Monday, November 27, 2006

Damned if we do..damned whatever we do..

The report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the events of September 2004 when elements within the demonstration (organised by the Countryside Alliance) tried to break through police lines to reach Parliament is apparently due out today.
'Leaked' extracts from the report have caused the 'Political' Editor of the Mail to harrumph in undisguised disgust at the verdict.
The report basically agrees with the Met that the violence was provoked by elements within the 20000 that formed outside Parliament.

In the aftermath, the IPCC flexed its muscles on this one and launched an extensive enquiry.

It resulted in a number of officers facing criminal charges at court. Not one case resulted in a conviction as the various trials have examined the events dispassionately, in the cold light of day and found that the officers had not gone beyond what would reasonably have been expected of them in that situation.
The Met estimate that about 60 officers suffered injury that day trying to police the demonstration.
As with any demonstration that turns to violence its organisers invariably blame the 'policing of the event' and not the actions of those who turned up. The spokespersons for the Countryside Alliance are no different on this matter.

The IPCC, like any other armchair commentator wearing hindsight goggles states that crowd dynamics should be considered.. and tactical options other than 'sheer physical force' should be considered. They even suggest the option of 'water cannon'.....mmmmmn'.

Having found myself over the years, along with thousands of other Met officers, on the receiving end when an apparently 'peaceful democratic demonstration' kicks off I can say that the only way that the Met have gained control is by the use of ' sheer physical force'
To quell ( an old fashioned word but I think it still sums it up) those sections of the demonstration, can require nothing else than the willingness of the officers on the ground to go and engage them and enforce what we are ultimately paid to do.. keep the Queens peace.

Officers from the Met will continue to police large scale demonstrations in this city.
As the Capital it naturally attracts those willing to get the greatest exposure to their cause.
The vast majority pass by peacefully with minimal police interaction.
Demonstrations do not 'go wrong' because of the police .. they go wrong because those within the demonstration chose to make it go wrong.

That is the crowd dynamic that the IPCC should mull over.


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