Follow-up report on review of policing the G20 protests

28 July 2009

A Joint Select Committee on Human Rights report published today says its review of the policing of the G20 protests leaves it concerned that there is "a long way to go before promoting and protecting human rights is central to police policy, training and operations"

The Committee considers that using 'kettling' as a tactic during the G20 protests the police did not recognise the rights of the protesters who were contained. As of 25 June 2009, the Independent Police Complaints Commission had received 277 complaints about the protests.

The Committee heard complaints about the use of force against ‘kettled’ protesters. It heard about protesters and other members of the public caught up in the protests being prevented from leaving the cordon even when in need of medical care. The Committee proposes a list of requirements that must be met if the use of kettling is lawful and proportionate.

The Committee describes communication between police and protesters as "very poor", leading to mutual distrust. It concludes, after examining the transcripts of police briefings to the media, that the "main responsibility for talking up the prospect of violence and severe disruption rests with the media, not the police".

The Committee recommends a legal requirement for officers to wear identification numbers while on duty.

Andrew Dismore MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"There were obvious problems with this policing operation. While kettling may be a helpful tactic, it can trap peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders for hours. There must be clear safeguards in place to make sure containment is used only when necessary and proportionate. It did not help that communication was so poor between police and protesters. Both sides must try to improve this in future.

"Public trust in the police is seriously damaged if accountability is lacking. It should be a legal requirement for police to display ID numbers. We also call on the Metropolitan police Commissioner to release the full report into the death of Blair Peach, a protester killed in Southall in 1979. Today’s Metropolitan Police Service has nothing to fear from a report on events 30 years ago, which would give perspective on the development of police strategy and might help restore the confidence that has been damaged."

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