Police forced to review strategy after G20 videos
By politics.co.uk staff
The police have agreed to review their public order strategies after widespread and deep-seated condemnation of their tactics during the G20 protests.
The decision follows the emergence of a video which shows a police officer slapping a female demonstrator with the back of his hand before hitting her legs with a baton.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission announced today they would investigate the incident.
Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson also announced he would ensure all police officers are identifiable by their identity number at all times when on the job. The police who attacked Ian Tomlinson and the woman in yesterday’s video had covered up their identity numbers.
“One matter that I want to make clear is that uniformed police officers should be identifiable at all times by their shoulder identification numbers,” Sir Paul said.
But the Liberal Democrats indicated their concerns went further than that. Chris Huhne, the party’s home affairs spokesman pointed out that one of the policemen was sergeant, who should himself have been responsible for ensuring that identifying numbers are clearly displayed.
“Instead, it is disturbing that he seems to have disguised his own,” he said.
“Sir Paul has some serious questions to answer about what guidance was given to officers ahead of the G20 demonstrations.”
“The public has a right to be able to identify any uniformed officer whilst performing their duty. We must ensure this is always the case.”
Protestors and media onlookers at the demonstrations questioned the police’s decision to implement a ‘kettling’ tactic on the demonstrators, where no-one attending can leave or enter a policed zone. There was particular anger at the way police used the tactic before any violence had broken out.
“G20 was a complex policing operation managing the movement and protection of many heads of state across the capital while balancing the right to lawful protest and maintaining public order for many thousands of people,” said Sir Paul.
“A number of complaints have been raised in relation to the tactic of containment and as to whether this achieves that balance. I want to be reassured that the use of this tactic remains appropriate and proportionate.”
Sir Paul asked the chief inspector of constabulary, Denis O’Connor, to conduct the inquiry.
He also promised to review all police video of the protests for footage of other police violence.
“Separately, I have already expressed my concern that the video footage of some police actions are clearly disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated,” he said.
“As well as the post-event investigation into those responsible for violence and disorder, I have also ensured that footage in police possession is reviewed to identify any other matters of individual police conduct that may warrant investigation.”
The officer involved in the most recent video footage, a sergeant from the territorial support group, has been suspended over the incident, which took place on April 2nd in a vigil marking the death of a man at the G20 protests in the City a day earlier.
Ian Tomlinson died from a heart attack shortly after a confrontation with riot police.
Despite Scotland Yard initially claiming there had been no contact between officers and the newspaper seller, a video revealed that he had been pushed to the ground and apparently struck in the legs with a baton while he walked away from police with his hands in his pockets.