Police facing growing pressure over tactics

By Siân Ruddick |

The Metropolitan Police Authority is under growing pressure over its operation around the G20 protests and the death of Ian Tomlinson shortly after he was pushed and assaulted by police in central London on 1 April.

There are now a number of inquiries underway, scrutinising both individual incidents and the overall tactics of the police.

Campaigners are determined to defend the right to protest and to hold the police to account.

They have set up the United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV) following the G20 protests, which was due to be formally launched on Tuesday, after Socialist Worker went to press.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is now carrying out four investigations relating to the G20 protests.

The most high profile is the inquiry into Ian’s death.

Ian’s family and supporters are pressing for the investigation to be carried out speedily so that they can find out exactly how Ian died and they can get justice.

The second investigation is over an alleged assault by a police officer on a 22 year old woman. The IPCC will also look into the case of an unnamed man in his 20s who was allegedly assaulted by police officers.

A fourth investigation is into the assault of Nicky Fisher, the woman seen on a YouTube video being slapped across the face by a sergeant.

The IPCC has received 256 complaints relating to the policing of G20 protests.

This includes 75 complaints about police tactics. Many relate to the forced containment of protesters, known as “kettling”.

Comments made on the social networking website Facebook have also called into question the attitudes of some police.

PC John Hayter, from the police’s royal protection unit, recently resigned after allegedly writing on his Facebook page, “I see my lot have murdered someone again. Oh well, shit happens.”

This follows the case of PC Rob Ward, a police officer who is being investigated after allegedly writing on Facebook that he was “looking forward to bashing some longhaired hippys [sic] @ the G20”.

There have also been more revelations in the past week about the state’s systematic monitoring of protesters.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how the “comms directorate” at the Department for Transport monitored environmental campaign groups in the run up to the announcement of Heathrow airport’s expansion.

Activists from UCAPV protested outside an MPA meeting at City Hall on Thursday of last week.

Protesters said that there was a lot of anger in the room, although at times it felt as though the meeting was simply a forum for the police to continue to defend their actions.

London mayor Boris Johnson was heckled from the gallery as he claimed that “the Met is a first class force”.

Some MPA members, including Jenny Jones from the Green Party and Kirsten Hearn, an independent, asked questions about police tactics.

Kirsten Hearn raised concerns that the policing on the demonstrations discriminated against people with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women.