Investigation into G20 Police actions

Ian Tomlinson pushed to his death

Ian Tomlinson pushed to his death

The Commons Home Affairs Committee has released its report into an investigation in to the policing at the G20 summit.

Whilst the report had some positive things to say about the policing, there are issues that really should have been addressed a long time ago and the fact that no Senior Officers are being hauled over the coals is a sad indictment of the way in which no-one is prepared to take responsibility, though they are more than happy to take the Salary, Pension and Gongs.

Once again the Police have been criticised for using inexperienced Police Officers on the front line.

The continued failure by Police Officers to display their identification is a continuing issue and as this is a common sights across protests throughout the UK, I doubt the veracity of the claim that Police Officers are told this is essential and appropriate disciplinary action is taken against those who do not display their ID at all times.

I wonder if not displaying ID is actively encouraged to those members of the police force with the most volatile tempers. The rhetoric about displaying ID is old and stale and the reality is that nothing changes.

The attitude by the Police to view protestors first and foremost as criminals was again criticised, again age old mantra, with absolutely no change in action.

The use of Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, is nothing more than a standard criticism of police activity, in relation to not only large scale protests, but in day to day policing, with the creep of the misuse of anti-terrorist legislation to justify the unjustifiable.

ACPO guidelines call for clear communication from the Police, yet as Commander Bob Broadhurst admitted to that this certainly was not the case at the G20. The issue of communication with large crowds goes back to the May Day protest of 2001 and prior, yet Broadhurst is happy to acknowledge once again the Police got it wrong, but doesn’t feel any need to resign. How can something as simple as communication take over 8 years to work out?

Containment tactics are once again a pressing issue for the Police to review, but they appear happy to continue using a practice, which is has a clear House of Lords ruling:

The Austin ruling says that containment as a strategy is lawful only in specific circumstances including: when the cordon is necessary for purely crowd control purposes and to protect people and property from injury, when many of the people contained were bent on violence; and those who were not demonstrators, or were seriously affected by being confined, were allowed to leave.

The use of containment is also before consideration at the European Court, yet the Police continue to use containment as a first option strategy, despite on many occasions being in breach of the House of Lords ruling. This attitude by the Police that they are above the law is not acceptable.

The use of ‘distraction’ techniques, took some in the Committee by surprise, which is no great shock as MPs don’t seem to know very much about the legislation they pass and is yet another example of committee members not having much of an idea about the subject they are investigating, making their findings fatuous, rather than incisive.

The fact that ‘distraction’, itself a misleading term, which makes it lawful for police officers to hit, kick and baton whip people in certain circumstances, is not widely known, is a concern, as it demonstrates that the lawful Power of the Police to abuse members of the Public is not widely enough understood, or appreciated.

The Metropolitan Police choose to ignore reports such as this and it will be no surprise if they choose to ignore this report. The investigation in to the Parliament Square demonstration suggested that officers’ batons that had been used, should be taken away for forensic use afterwards. The Metropolitan Police decided they didn’t like this suggestion, so decided not to comply.

Knowing full well that there are major events which occur in London, I found the statement made by Sir Paul Stephenson, to the committee astonishing:

… I then tried to place that in the context that there were 13,000 officer days during this operation. It was a remarkable operation planned over an incredibly short period of time that would normally take years and actually the vast majority of my officers did a remarkable job.

I really think this man has lost the plot. The Met handle demonstrations regularly and should be prepared to handle demonstrations regularly, yet according to Stephenson ‘It was a remarkable operation planned over an incredibly short period of time that would normally take years’ If that is the case, the Met is even more incompetent than many people think.

It is not acceptable that we hear time and time again the same issues raised with Policing, yet nothing changes. Police Officers need to understand that they are the ‘Servants of the people not Masters of the People’ and needs drumming in constantly.

The Northern Ireland Police Service has learnt rapidly how to build a relationship with protestors that does not lead to conflict and the fact that their lessons have not been widely implemented is neglect and incompetence at the top of the Police Forces around the Country.

It is time some of these fat cat Senior Officers got the boot and they should not be permitted to drift on until they receive their pension.

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