Policing of the G20 Protests - Home Affairs Committee Contents

7  Conclusion

76. Despite a lack of time for planning[83], the policing of the G20 Protests was in many ways a successful operation. Front-line officers who were untrained and inexperienced in this area were placed in a highly combustible atmosphere and performed an admirable job. The vast majority of those wishing to protest were facilitated in a peaceful manner with a minimum of fuss and drama. On the whole, the police should be congratulated for their work. However, this success should not distract from the failings in the operation which were also on show and we feel that an element of luck must be attributed to the success of the operation. It is troubling that the policing operation relied so heavily on untrained, inexperienced officers. Future events may not be so calm and some officers will be found wanting through no fault of their own.

77. This is a risk the police must not run. We cannot condone the use of untrained, inexperienced officers on the front-line of a public protest under any circumstances and this must be avoided at all costs. Equally while "containment" may have been the optimum tactic available in this operation, we urge the police to address the specific details of its application which we have discussed above and make public the situations in which they consider its use appropriate and the internal checks they have on its strategic use and practical deployment. We note the reviews on this matter and urge the police to take decisive action to prevent a re-occurrence of the problems we have identified. It is clear that the concerns about the policing of the G20 Protests have damaged the public's confidence in the police. There must not be a repetition of this.

78. Above all, the police must constantly remember that those who protest on Britain's streets are not criminals but citizens motivated by moral principles, exercising their democratic rights. The police's doctrine must remain focused on allowing this protest to happen peacefully. Any action which may be viewed by the general public as the police criminalising protest on the streets must be avoided at all costs.

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Prepared 29 June 2009