Inexperienced officers in protest frontline – never again, say MPs

An inquiry by MPs into the 1 April G20 protests has concluded that untrained police officers must never again be placed in the frontline of public protest.

From the Guardian:

The conclusion from the Commons home affairs select committee inquiry into the G20 protests of April 1 follows admissions from senior Metropolitan police officers that some inexperienced officers, who were clearly quite scared, used “inappropriate force”.

The report by the cross-party group of MPs says they “cannot condone the use of untrained, inexperienced officers on the frontline of a public protest under any circumstances”.

The inquiry also calls for the police to seriously consider whether they can continue with the use of tactics such as kettling – containing protesters behind cordons for a sustained period of time – and the controlled use of force against those who appear hostile without first holding a public debate over the future of policing public protests.

The report includes sections on Relations with the Media, Communications between Protesters and Police, Use of Close Containment, The Use of Force and The Use of Tasers. It does not comment on the death of Ian Tomlinson, instead summarising the policing of the G20 protests as a “remarkably successful operation” and making only oblique reference to “a few high-profile incidents.”

The report also says that, given the use of untrained and inexperienced officers “in such a highly combustible atmosphere”, the operation’s success was down to luck.

You can read the full report here.

Also see Libby Purves in the Times on how policing civilians is a subtle and unresearched science.

As the Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said,

The basic principle that the police must remember is that protestors are not criminals – the police’s doctrine must remain focused on allowing protest to happen peacefully.

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4 Comments

  • God I’m a cynic these days.

    My immediate thought is:

    “In the wake of headlines showing him in a less than positive light, Keith Vaz attempts to score points with the anti-authority & anti-authoritarian guardian types by appearing to confront the police.
    Cleverly he manages to also score points with the police by blaming failures on ‘innexperienced’ officers rather than police policy or even incompetent officers.’ ”

    And as I don’t have any time to wade through the actual evidence I guess I’ll stay ambivalent on Vaz and the Met.

  • Europhile-EUphobe 30th Jun '09 - 10:37am

    So the select committee swallows whole the argument ‘It isn’t our good police force becoming ever more extreme in its policing of dissent and using ever more draconean interpretations of its powers (e.g. kettling), but a few officers we had to use who weren’t properly trained (probably not properly trained to put their id badges on either) and the problem will all go away once we get them trained (presumably trained not to get caught).

  • I don’t swallow the whole ‘untrained officers’ was the problem line. For one thing ALL PCs get basic training in public order policing as part of their training to become a PC. Secondly as far as I can see it was not ‘untrained’ Officers that were at the centre of most of the most contiverial actions but rather the complete opposite, the supposedly highly trained and specialist Terratorial Support Group Officers.

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