More arrests at UKuncut Manchester protests

Article published: Monday, May 30th 2011

For the second time in the space of a month protestors have been arrested while taking part in demonstrations called by the anti-cuts campaign group UKuncut Manchester.

Protestors outside Santander.

On Saturday police arrested nine protestors who took part in a peaceful sit in occupation of Santander bank on Market Street in central Manchester. This follows the arrest of several demonstrators outside the Vodafone store on Market Street on May 14.

Saturday’s protest at Santander, dubbed ‘the emergency operation’, was part of a nationwide decentralised day of action against proposed NHS reforms and spending cuts. UKuncut targeted branches of major high street banks across the country. The purpose, according to UKuncut spokespersons was “to highlight alternatives to NHS cuts, including making banks pay for their ongoing public subsidy of up to £100bn a year.” This subsidy, based around government guarantees backing risky lending, is roughly equivalent to the entire NHS annual budget.

While around 40 branches were shut down nationwide, it appears that arrests only took place in Manchester. The nine arrested at Santander were held to “prevent a breach of the peace”, and were taken straight from the bank into waiting police vans. The protestors claim that they were not given an option to leave the bank voluntarily before being arrested. All were subsequently released without charge.

The arrests on 14 May took place at a picket of the Vodafone store to highlight the company’s controversial avoidance of around £6bn in tax payments. A scuffle took place after protestors were assaulted by another member of the public. The assailant was given a fixed penalty notice, while three UKuncut protestors were arrested and cautioned. They maintain they were acting in self defense after nearby police failed to intervene to stop the attack.

UKuncut Manchester claim they have on several occasions been subject to intimidation from the police and Arndale Centre security guards, and claim the incidents exhibit a “classic case of political policing attempting to stop legal protest.”

More: Manchester, News


  1. The bank was open for customers, not protestors.

    To avoid any arrests why not hold the demo when the bank is shut or in a place which causes no disruption to business?

    As for the ‘The protestors claim that they were not given an option to leave the bank voluntarily before being arrested’, they certainly had an option not to enter the bank at all, an option they chose not to take, so making it entirely reasonable for the police to arrest them to get rid of them from the scene.

    Comment by simon on May 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm
  2. an arrest for preventing a breach of the peace means the coppers had to suspect violence was about to happen. you can’t just arrest someone for walking into a bank and sitting down

    Comment by tom on May 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm
  3. ‘To avoid any arrests why not hold the demo when the bank is shut or in a place which causes no disruption to business?’

    Because Simon direct action protests are successful precisely when they disrupt business and economic activity, because it hits businesses where it hurts. Would you really suggest protesting outside a closed business? And before you say it, it did not make them legitimate targets for arrest, as you will note they were released without charge (since they did nothing wrong).

    Comment by Right to the City on May 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm
  4. They were probably released without charge because a breach of the peace is not a criminal offence and you cannot be charged with it. You get released once there is no chance of the breach reoccurring.

    Comment by ZZ on May 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm
  5. Disrupting the running of a business is quite likely to cause a breach of the peace because of annoyance to staff and customers.

    Well done to the police for removing the protestors to avoid any trouble.

    Why should staff and customers have their business disrupted by a bunch of uninvited people choosing to crowd the place out?

    I think the police should be empowered to make this type of protestor report to police stations when told, so making their attendance at these immature protests more difficult. This method works with football hooligans.

    We need to impress upon these middle class student type protestors that they’ll simply be removed from the scene if the choose to barge into private premises where they haven’t been invited and are not wanted. Mummy, Daddy and the ‘uni’ authorities migh hang on their every word so as not to boost their self-esteem, but the rest of us needn’t.

    Comment by simon on June 1, 2011 at 10:54 am
  6. @Simon. Ever had a day off sick? Do you go on paid holidays? Presumably you vote every now and again?

    Ever wonder where these wonderful innovations came from? They certainly weren’t provided by benevolent employers or governments out of the goodness of their hearts. They were won by people who campaigned and protested, who got arrested, locked up, beaten, and even killed. And yes, they have even caused some disruption! That’s how real democracy works. If you have a problem with this I suggest you renounce all the ‘rights’ you currently enjoy and go back to working 13 hour shifts 6 days a week for less money you need to live.

    Comment by Daz on June 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The comments are closed.