Policing UK Demonstrations

Heavy handing policing of demonstrations

18th April

Update: Killing and Kettling...

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Police tactics need urgent investigation

' The UK police officer caught on film attacking Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests could face manslaughter charges after a second postmortem concluded that the newspaper vendor died from internal bleeding and not a heart attack.

It emerged last night that the Metropolitan police officer who had been suspended from duty has now been interviewed under caution on suspicion of manslaughter by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The New York fund manager who handed the Guardian the video evidence said last night that he felt vindicated by the findings. Now I'm glad I came forward. It's possible Mr Tomlinson's death would have been swept under the rug otherwise. You needed something incontrovertible. In this case it was the video.

The first postmortem results - which were released by police - said Tomlinson had died of a heart attack. The second postmortem was ordered by the family's legal team and the IPCC after the footage was broadcast.

The second postmortem was conducted by Dr Nat Cary, who was able to scrutinise video evidence before conducting his examination. In a statement last night, City of London coroners court said Dr Cary had provisionally concluded that internal bleeding was the cause of Tomlinson's death. Dr Cary's opinion is that the cause of death was abdominal haemorrhage. The cause of the haemorrhage remains to be ascertained. Dr Cary accepts that there is evidence of coronary atherosclerosis but states that in his opinion its nature and extent is unlikely to have contributed to the cause of death.

Neither the IPCC nor City of London police made any mention of the injuries or abdominal blood found by the pathologist Dr Freddy Patel when they released results of the first postmortem. City of London police said only that Tomlinson had suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work.

Tomlinson's son Paul King said: We believe we were badly misled by police about the possible role they played in Ian's death. First we were told that there had been no contact with the police, then we were told that he died of a heart attack. Now we know that he was violently assaulted by a police officer and died from internal bleeding. As time goes on we hope that the full truth about how Ian died will be made known.

O'Connor Inquiry

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, has ordered a review of public order policing amid mounting concerns over the way his force and the City of London police handled the G20 protests this month.

Stephenson said he had asked the chief inspector of constabulary, Denis O'Connor, to examine police tactics. The so-called practice of "kettling" containing crowds will be a prime focus of O'Connor's inquiry.

Stephenson has also barred uniformed police officers from covering their shoulder identification numbers, saying the public has a right to be able to identify them.


28th November

Update: Policing without Consent...

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Police and politicians undermine Robert Peel's vision of British policing

Political leadership is urgently needed to protect the British brand of policing after years of drift and piecemeal initiatives, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary told The Times last night.

Denis O'Connor said that the principle of policing by public consent had been severely undermined, most visibly by aggressive and unfair tactics at protests such as the G20 demonstrations.

In a highly critical report O'Connor depicted how deploying officers in riot gear had become a routine response to lawful demonstrators because of ignorance of the law surrounding protest and a lack of leadership from chief officers and Home Office ministers.

O'Connor said that he had been particularly alarmed to discover that some forces trained officers to use their riot shields as offensive weapons. The potentially dangerous technique had spread by word of mouth.

His report was commissioned after the G20 protests in the City of London in April when one man died and hundreds of complaints were made about police violence, abuse of powers and the tactic of kettling or containment of crowds.

The 150-page document exposed the ad hoc nature of public order policing, with forces across the country differing in the equipment they bought, their training methods and their understanding of their powers to stop, question or arrest protesters.

The failure of police to understand the law was in part explained by the complexity of legislation, with 90 amendments to the Public Order Act since it was passed in 1986.

I would welcome some senior politicians addressing these issues, O'Connor said. We don't have these difficulties, albeit there are some terrible challenges, in defence. There are lots of discussions about health. Can we not elevate the discussion about policing?

He said that the British policing model, as set down by Sir Robert Peel, should be nurtured and protected and that every policy initiative should be examined to see if it was compatible with the principle of policing by consent.

He added: It gets eroded, potentially, by each new bit of legislation, each new initiative health and safety, whatever else to the point where you end up with a shadow of what you thought you had.

It has happened by drift, by the absence of somebody asserting what matters. We need to think about the principles as well as the technical matters.


26th May

Update: Ominous Double Speak...

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Protester Brian Haw arrested whilst the Queen was saying her government would restore the right to peaceful protest

David Cameron's coalition government promised Britons a new era of freedom and civil liberties today, only hours after the country's most prominent antiwar campaigner was arrested outside Parliament.

Brian Haw, who has kept up an anti-war vigil for eight years, was forcibly detained and handcuffed at 8am as police with sniffer dogs moved in to search the ragtag collection of tents on Parliament Square. A supporter, Barbara Tucker, was also detained.

They were arrested under 'police can make it up as they go along' Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The two were being held at a Central London police station.

This morning's swoop was reportedly ordered by the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to remove what he called the mess and chaos ahead of today's state opening of Parliament.

But it sat uneasily with the more libertarian and reformist elements of the Queen's Speech, which included widespread political and parliamentary reform and a new Freedom Bill which will enshrine the right of individuals to protest peacefully without fear of being criminalised .







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