Met Police to Twitter at protesters

CO11MetPolice twitter screenshot

The Metropolitan Police are trying new tactics to engage with environmental activists at next week’s Climate Camp in London.

The Met have opened a Twitter account @CO11MetPolice (named after its public order unit) which is intended “specifically to inform the Camp for Climate Action of any operational updates relating to the policing of their event starting on 26 August.”

From the Metropolitan Police website:

If you follow us, you can expect tweets covering some or all of the following:

•Operational updates about the policing of the Camp for Climate Action, relevant to participants
•Information from emergency services partners relevant to the safety and well being of participants of the Camp for Climate Action
•Crime prevention advice or local community information relevant to participants of the Camp for Climate Action

The site says that @CO11MetPolice won’t be autofollowing, but that they’ll read all @replies and Direct Messages (although you can’t DM if they’re not following you back). They say their team “ensures that any emerging themes or helpful suggestions are passed to the relevant people” – it will be interesting to watch emerging hashtags on the day.

An inquiry by MPs criticised the policing of the G20 protests in London on 1 April, in which newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson died after being struck by a police officer. “Communications between protesters and police” was one of five areas studied by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry into the Policing of the G20 Protests.

According to the Guardian, activists have been told that a “ring of steel” will not be employed around their camp, but that the use of kettling has not been ruled out.

Of course, Twitter alone won’t solve the problems witnessed in previous protests. It remains to be seen whether there will be changes in the police’s use of force and close containment as well as the police’s attitude towards journalists and photographers.

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