Friday, 10 December 2010


Very little (or nothing) in this world is a simple matter of being black of white; there are many shades of grey in between, especially when it comes to how large demonstrations are policed and even more so when there is resultant disorder which is splashed across the TV and the Press subsequent to the events of the Student protests. One thing, however, is very true, little is added to the eloquence of your argument by trying to stove in the head of a Police Officer.

We should ask (and it is proper in a free society that we do ask) searching questions about the Police tactics (especially 'Kettling') used by the Police at large demo's - I have been on both sides of the line so to speak and have seen both sides of confrontational demonstrations. I can accept that in heated or tense situations a Police officer at the end of his or her tether after hours of provocation (from the usual suspects the SWP and their ilk) might on occasion be less than polite when he or she asks people to move out of the way or along. It is worth noting that press photographers have lived with this sort of thing for years, but, there is no excuse for excessive force or violence. This does not, however, make it acceptable conduct or excuse blatant brutality.

One thing to remember is that there are those amongst the thousands of peaceful and law abiding demonstrators who attend demo's, there are those (and this is by way of experience and observation rather than the near permanent hysterical rant usually found in the pages of the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph) who do systematically direct what can be best described as focused and targeted hostility towards our Police officers for their own ends.

Whether we like it or not there are those who are looking to provoke a tangible public reaction for their own purposes, and who are more than happy to hide behind more naive and inexperienced demonstrators at large demo's and high-jack peaceful demonstrations. Now Police officers are effectively empowered to use reasonable force providing that it is proportionate to the situation they find themselves in, if excessive force is used by either side then it should be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Any Police officers who knowingly or maliciously crosses the line when it comes to acceptable standards of behaviour should be firmly dealt with; as should any demonstrator who likewise may have crossed the line of acceptable behaviour. It is important for us to develop and retain a sense of perspective, we should remember that the vast majority of Police Officers and the vast majority of demonstrators did not cross the line when it comes to acceptable standards of behaviour at the Student protests, only a very small minority of people at the protests did so.

At the end of the day we are dealing with Policing by consent within a democratic society and it is important to remember that Police officers are only human and may react, as would anyone who has been subject to systematic provocation at the hands of a very small minority hell bent on inciting or causing trouble by provoking a reaction from harassed Police officers.

Now it works both ways because the public would expect overly thuggish or aggressive violent behaviour and the use of excessive force towards peaceful demonstrators and similar behaviour from demonstrators towards our Police officers, to be dealt with. Violent conduct from public servants to the public and from the public towards public servants is not, has never been and never will be acceptable and should be subject to the full penalties and rigours of the law - not trial by media or the Daily Mail.

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