ASYLUM rights campaigners involved in the release of the men detained in Kenmure Street have questioned secrecy over the police response, The National can reveal.

Hundreds of peaceful protestors disrupted the removal of two men from the Glasgow street last month as so-called “dawn raids” by the Home Office returned to Scotland.

The detained pair, Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev, were released after eight hours in custody in a van prevented from leaving by demonstrators who stayed around and even underneath the vehicle amidst a large police presence.

Police Scotland said they attended to ensure public safety and the agency carrying out the immigration detention had authority to do so.

But the force has declined to reveal how much public money was spent on the operation, saying this could put the public at risk of crimes being committed and could even stop offenders being arrested.

That’s in response to a Freedom of Information request from this newspaper.

READ MORE: HMRC loses child tax credits case as refugee family make legal history 

Now two of those involved in responding to the raid have raised questions about the force’s response.

Mohammad Asif of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation spent hours on the scene, told the crowds to keep calm, and was seen walking Singh and Sehdev from the van with lawyer Aamer Anwar (shown below).

The National:

Robina Qureshi of the charity Positive Action in Housing helped the two men secure solicitors.

She said: “I don’t see where the risk to the public is in disclosing the extent of money that they spent on a peaceful demonstration.”

Asif said: “People should answer questions as long as there’s public money involved. There should be accountability and they should justify their actions.”

The National asked Police Scotland how many officers were deployed to and around Kenmure Street on May 13 in response to the detention and protest there.

READ MORE: Revealed: The Glasgow dawn raid the public did not witness 

We also asked how many vehicles and horses were used in the response, how much the operation had cost and from what budget these costs would be met.

In an official response, the force declined to reveal those details under an exemption designed for information deemed to be “likely to prejudice substantially the prevention or detection of crime and apprehension or prosecution of offenders”.

It said: “Release of the requested information would adversely impact on the operational effectiveness of the service. Being aware of officer numbers, vehicles and horses utilised, would allow persons or groups intent on committing offences or causing disorder with the means to make a reasonable assessment of the policing plan at similar incidents.

“This in turn would allow those individuals or groups to make an accurate assessment of the capacity of the Service to deal with similar incidents, compromising any tactical advantage the police may have over such persons or groups when dealing with any crime or disorder.”

It also ruled that disclosure “would leave members of the public at an increased risk of being the victim of crime, unruly or intimidating behaviour and jeopardise wider community safety”, adding: “Further disclosure may have the potential to increase the number of attacks on operational police officers or present a risk to their personal safety.”

The National:

The response read: “It could be argued that disclosure of the requested information would lead to a better informed public, improving their knowledge and understanding of how Police Scotland provides a key role in protecting the public. This would increase public debate and encourage accountability regarding the delivery of this area of core policing.

“That said, the subject matter of any information request should not just be of interest to the public, but something which is of serious concern and benefit to the public. It can never be in the public interest to compromise law enforcement which, in turn, may compromise public safety.”

On the overall costs, it said it does not hold this information, but all officers “were on duty resources” and so their pay would come out of “the normal salary budget”.

Addressing the Scottish Police Authority late last month, Chief Constable Iain Livingston said there had been a “proportionate and professional” response to the incident and that police had moved to release the men. He said: “This was a decision that was taken to protect the safety and public health and the wellbeing of all involved.”

The incident happened days before the George Square riots by Rangers supporters. That week, politicians from across parties spoke out about police actions and compared the events.

Livingston said of both responses: “Our commitment to public safety and upholding human rights is not based on the popularity of the views held.

“As custodian of the office of Chief Constable, I’m a strong advocate for the principle of my operational independence and the operational independence of policing in Scotland.

“Policing cannot be directed in operational matters by government ministers, by politicians or indeed by a police authority.”