Miners’ voices ‘will be heard’ in police probe

Some miners travelled from Fife to Bilston Glen in Midlothian to join protests in 1984.
Some miners travelled from Fife to Bilston Glen in Midlothian to join protests in 1984.

News that an independent review into policing during the miners strike of 1984-85 has been welcomed in Fife.

The strikes saw tense confrontations across the UK between police and miners during the eighties, at a time when coal mines were among the biggest employers in Fife.

Now Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has ordered an independent review into the impact of policing on communities during the era.

While Fife escaped the worst of the confrontations, many local miners travelled to make their voices heard in protests elsewhere in Scotland.

The announcement was welcomed by Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted by this announcement, and it was evident from the reaction of the miners that attended Parliament, just how much this review means to them and their families.

“This independent review will hopefully help to reconciliate and reconnect communities following many years of bad feeling since those turbulent times.

“Fife was one of Scotland’s main coal mining areas – the Seafield and Frances Collieries, the miners’ and their families playing a massive role in Kirkcaldy.

“There continues to be a strong sense of hurt and anger amongst those affected, I am thrilled that their voices will now be heard.

“It is vital that the many unanswered questions on the key issues of policing during the strike are investigated and action taken to address the injustice felt by so many families all across Fife, and wider Scotland.

“The UK Government must now follow the positive and progressive approach of the Scottish Government and initiate a similar inquiry.”

Former Fife Councillor Tom Adams was previously a miner during the strikes, and was arrested during a picket in Perth.

He said that union officials were being targeted by police during a picket at Dysart’s Frances Colliery in 1984.

“The police had a van with the back door open, and a folding table with photographs all over the table, and they were standing picking us out. I saw them pointing at us as they looked at the pictures.

“They came for us, but the rest of the men were stopping them. A group of officials were arrested, and subsequently sacked.

“They were definitely targeting people, and that’s what I want this review to confirm, along with where those orders came from.”

The news comes after Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has ordered an independent review into the impact of policing on communities during the Miners’ Strike, from March 1984 to March 1985.

The Justice Secretary, who met with representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers prior to announcing the review to Parliament, said: “Through this independent review, Scotland will lead the way in ensuring the experiences of those affected by the policing of the dispute in the 1980s are properly understood.”