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The Copenhagen Post

Climate Protestors Face Sleeping in Prison Gyms


Prisons prepare for an influx of detainees during the UN Climate Change Conference happening in two weeks. (The Copenhagen Post)

Prisons prepare for an influx of detainees during the UN Climate Change Conference happening in two weeks

Overcrowding in the country's prisons means protestors arrested during the climate conference will be held in uncomfortable conditions.

Climate activists are gearing up for the UN Climate Change Conference in two weeks, but face harsh jail conditions if arrested.

Legislation was recently tightened to allow police to hold protestors for up to 40 days if they hinder police work and the already overstretched prison service is gearing up for new arrivals.

Vestre Fængsel prison in Copenhagen is preparing to house those who are being held in custody by doubling up on cell-space and holding others in the prison gym and workshop areas.

The prison houses many pre-trial detainees and if climate protestors are added to the current population, prison warden Peter Vesterheden warned that conditions would not be ideal.

‘There's no doubt that they'll be bored and really surly,' Vesterheden told DR News.

The warden said they plan to convert the gym to house 40 inmates temporarily, sleeping on mattresses on the floor at night. Single person cells of 8sqm will double up to house two inmates - one on the bunk and one on the floor.

A further 30 temporary detainees may be housed at the Ellebæk detention centre next to the Sandholm Asylum Centre in North Zealand.

Activists have also been warned by police not to spread advice that could lead to criminal behaviour.

A number of manuals on how to avoid the police and deal with them in case of arrest have been circulating on activists' websites.

The manuals give details on usual Danish police operating procedures and advise activists not to answer police questions or allow their mobile phones to be confiscated.

‘These recommendations are aimed at people with a criminal agenda. It's a little like the gang conflict - not that I'm comparing the two groups - where people are also advised not to talk with police,' Mogens Lauridsen, deputy chief superintendent of Copenhagen Police, told Politiken newspaper.

‘If you haven't done anything wrong then there's no problem informing us what you're doing in Denmark and why you're here,' he said.

The umbrella organisation for activists' demonstrations, Climate Justice Action, is meeting with police today to discuss their plans and Lauridsen said they would be required to provide an explanation for the manuals.

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