Chief Insp Andy Prophet (July 15) seeks to justify his decision to authorise photographing of citizens attending a formal meeting with an MP and planners.

As part of his justification, he cites Operation Leopard in Basildon where they photograph known criminals.

So we now know how he views us law-abiding folk who may legitimately attend any meeting – council, church, school, etc.

Seeing it as his duty to film us, if he gets the tiniest hint that someone might actually “bang the table.”

It confirms my view we are now a police state and all are seen as criminals.

Not content with this insult to democracy, he then contrives to further justify his actions, saying he had “information to suggest some might use the occasion to disrupt the business of the airport”.

Honestly? Where did this piece of convenient fantasy come from?

As for the photos, we are assured they will be destroyed, but with modern technology of memory cards, etc, I am unconvinced.

Not least by the contemptible attitude displayed, Not content with this I see Insp Les Hawkins (July 15), also tried to justify the action at the Leigh Crime Prevention Panel, quoting “unique issues at airports etc”. All nicely vague with a hint of unseen alien forces lurking “people with other interests.” but precious little substance, as justification to abuse democracy If it is a public meeting, it is open to all, whether they are local or come from elsewhere and have a right to exercise their democratic right to put their point of view.

After all, the effects of airport expansion go way beyond the airport.

Perhaps we should ask for details of both officers’ “claims” under the Freedom of Information Act!

Even if any disruption had happened on the day, there was still no justification for photographing people arriving or leaving the meeting.

The only justification for filming would have been of anyone actually in the act of carrying out or attempting to carry out a criminal act “disrupting airport business,” which did not happen.

Own goal chaps. I suggest next time you are in a hole, you stop digging!

Mike Hansford
Blenheim Chase

...What planet does Chief Insp Andy Prophet come from?

Equating a peaceful protest meeting at Southend Airport to policing known local troublemakers is just about typical of the type of police we have allowed to harass us over the last couple of decades.

The defence that he “had information to suggest some might use the occasion to disrupt the business of the airport” will simply not wash.

Does this mean if I ring up Chief Insp Prophet and his boys and tell them there’s going to be trouble at the next Moonwalk they will turn up team-handed with the Kodaks? Just what constitutes “information”

and from whom should it come?

Increasingly, it seems the police actually resent the people they are supposed to protect.

A friend of mine once said that anybody who wants to be a policeman should actively be prevented from so doing. I’m beginning to see what he was getting at.

Brian Williams
Elmsleigh Drive

...So the police have been at it again. They photographed members of Greenpeace and Stop Airport Extension Now as they left a meeting with an MP.

A policeman also photographed me while my colleagues and I, all members of those notorious dissidents who campaign for nuclear disarmament, recently leafleted in Southend High Street.

When I complained, we were similarly told it was to prevent crime and disorder and the photo would not be preserved.

Now, despite their excuses, the police in the town continue to harass harmless protesters in this way.

We in CND have learnt that in Britain those who intend to protest in numbers should be warned: You will not be allowed to march; you will be surrounded by intimidating numbers of police; you may be “kettled” and you will be photographed in order to remind you “we know who you are”.

When the day comes, we will find the authorities will have in place all the apparatus for a police state.

John West
Chairman, Southend CND
Bramble Road