Policing the G20
On 29th June the Home Affairs Select Committee, on which I serve, published the findings of its investigation into the policing of the G20 protests in London.
The policing of the G20 Protests was a remarkably successful operation; more than 35,000 protesters demonstrated in the centre of London with a police presence of several thousand, yet there was a minimum of disruption to the City. Aside from a few high-profile incidents, the policing of the G20 Protests passed without drama.
However, these incidents and the tactics that led to them caused considerable adverse comment and have the potential to seriously damage the public's faith in the police. The use of containment (detaining people in a confined area for a sustained period of time), and distraction tactics (the controlled use of force against those who appear hostile) while legitimate according to the police rule-book, shocked the public. Whether they should continue to be used must form the basis of a wide-ranging discussion on the future policing of public protests.
Police communications with the media and the protesters must also improve. This would require the police, media and protesters to engage better with one another both before and during the protest.
There no circumstances in which it is acceptable for officers not to wear identification numbers and urgent action must be taken to ensure that officers have the resources to display identification at all times; those officers found to be consciously removing their identification numbers must face the strongest possible disciplinary measures.
While the vast majority of officers on duty performed very well, we are deeply concerned that untrained and inexperienced officers were placed in such a highly combustible atmosphere. We cannot condone the use of untrained, inexperienced officers on the front-line of a public protest and feel that an element of luck must be attributed to the success of the operation.
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