By Justin Davenport, Martin Bentham and Kiran Randhawa |
SCOTLAND Yard today admitted that Territorial Support Group officers pointed Taser stun guns in a raid on protesters connected with the G20
Two new videos show the protesters were lying on the ground with their hands in the air when police burst into the squat in east London.
The footage shows one officer pointing the 50,000-volt weapon at a group sitting on the floor of the Earl Street squat in Bishopsgate.
The videos have raised questions over whether the use of the Taser contravened police guidelines.
These state the weapon should only be drawn or fired when there is a risk of serious violence, for instance when a dangerous suspect is armed with a knife.
Scotland Yard said Tasers were not fired during the raid but were issued because of intelligence that they faced a serious threat.
Metropolitan Police Authority member Jenny Jones said she was concerned about the deployment of Tasers saying: “I would like to know if they went through all the correct procedures.”
Today the Met confirmed TSG officers led the raid on the squat.
A spokeswoman said: “A risk assessment was carried out to cover a dynamic entry into unknown properties and the nature of the intelligence police had relating to who may be inside. As a result Taser was authorised to be taken on the operation.”
Hannah McClure, 21, who was at the squat, said: “We sat on the floor with our hands up showing our peaceful intentions. Dozens of riot police entered. I remember seeing one officer with a Taser gun. He pointed it at us and yelled at us to lie face down and with arms stretched out. Very direct and abusive language was used.
“I heard one guy received more abuse because he was filming. They took the guy away and later I heard him yell, Help, I need a medic’.
“I lay on the ground for around 30 minutes and was then handcuffed, searched and detained on the suspicion of violent behaviour. I was left psychologically and emotionally drained, shocked at the tactics used by police. I feel legal action should be taken for this unnecessary and violent raid.”
Dom Marsh, 26, another demonstrator in the squat, said: “It was terrifying. They rushed in and one was carrying this Taser. He faced the room with his legs apart and was pointing it at people. We were all really shocked. One of the people next to me was filming it. He got hit with a baton. Anyone who was not lying on their front got hit.”
In a separate development today, one of Parliament’s most senior MPs said police should be made to display their names as well as numbers to make them more easily accountable. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, also said this would “humanise” officers and improve relations with the public.
“We have to think about humanising the police and make them more accountable and that means showing their names, which are much easier for the public to remember.”
Mr Vaz’s call came as MPs prepared to launch a new inquiry into the policing of public protests and a separate probe into the handling of cases by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The first inquiry will begin tomorrow when the IPCC’s chairman Nick Hardwick and the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary Denis O’Connor appear before the committee to face questioning about the G20 protests.
It is expected to be followed by further hearings if MPs agree more witnesses should give testimony on the police’s controversial “kettling” tactic and alleged brutality by some officers.
The second inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the IPCC will take place later this year, although Mr Hardwick will also be challenged about this during tomorrow’s hearing.
Mr Vaz added he wanted to see a Parliamentary statement or debate on the G20 protests, but said the home affairs select committee hearings would help fill the void by allowing MPs to discuss police tactics.
“There have been calls for a public debate on this and Denis O’Connor has been asked to conduct a review by the Met, but Parliament should not be left out of this,” he said.
Meanwhile, the joint Human Rights Committee, which published a critical report into public order policing, is considering re-opening its inquiry in the wake of the G20 protests.