Met go into denial over G20 policing criticism

The Metropolitan Police appears to have swept aside criticisms expressed by MPs in a report into the policing of the G20 protests.

The report, by the home affairs select committee, condemned the police for their use of “kettling” tactics and the concealment of ID numbers by a large number of officers during the April protests, which saw one man lose his life and hundreds of reports of brutality by officers.

Commenting on the committee’s findings, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison stated: “What we have always sought to do is facilitate lawful protest, balance the competing rights of those affected by that protest, and to do our duty to uphold the law.”

He said it was wrong to claim officers were untrained and said that the operation had been policed “remarkably successfully.”

And he then appeared to blame protesters for the trouble, saying they had not communicated with police.

Some of the worst scenes of brutality were at the climate camp at Bishopsgate and Climate Change Action’s Richard Bernard confirmed that campaigners had tried to engage with police prior to the event.

“What the Met seem to have done is ignore recommendations and criticism expressed in the home affairs committee report, which said that more effort to communicate was needed on both sides, and twisted it,” he said.

He added that “some parts” of the police appeared to be interested in communicating with the pressure group, “but this statement would suggest that the Met is not.”

And he accused the police of “fulfilling their own prophecy of violence by giving out the violence they said would happen – and trying to do it unrecorded – when most of the media had gone home. The levels of violence that day were definitely excessive.”

Meanwhile, solicitors acting for G20 protesters will today launch a legal challenge over police tactics, demanding that senior officers furnish a legal basis for the use of “kettling.”

Solicitor John Halford said there was “something unreal” about a police operation with facilitating peaceful protest as one of its aims which led to hundreds of peaceful people being penned in for several hours, scores of assaults by police officers and a fatality.

“More unreal still is the institutional position taken by police in response to this claim – that nothing whatever went wrong and that everything was authorised by law,” he stressed.

Paddy McGuffin
Copyright Morning Star