Examination of Witnesses (Questions 222-239)|
12 MAY 2009
Q222 Chairman: Deputy Chief Constable,
thank you very much for coming to give evidence to this short
inquiry into the policing of the G20 protests. You have had the
benefit of listening to the evidence of Nicola Fisher, David Howarth
and others. Are you concerned with what they have said this morning
and what you have seen about the way in which the G20 protests
were policed as you are the ACPO Lead on Public Order?
Ms Sim: I think what I need to
do for the Committee is to explain what the ACPO Lead in relation
to public order is.
Q223 Chairman: No. I would like you
to answer my question. I will come to what you do. I have asked
you a specific question. You have heard the evidence of Nicola
Fisher. You have heard the evidence of David Howarth. You have
known about the circumstances of the G20 protests and you will
have seen the reactions of other senior police officers. What
is your reaction? Are you concerned with the way in which the
G20 protests were policed?
Ms Sim: What I will say is that
I have heard today for the first time the version of events from
Mr Howarth, from the two colleagues that were with him and for
the first time I have heard what Ms Fisher had to say. I have
not heard what the police commander has had to say about it and
neither have I heard what the police officers have got to say
about it. I am aware that there is an Independent Police Complaints
Commission inquiry into a number of complaints. Experience over
a considerable period of time in policing, 24 years actually,
has shown me not to jump to conclusions. I have seen photographs
that have appeared in newspapers which if taken on a first-hand
impression would lead me to believe that police officers had inflicted
dreadful things of violence. I have then listened to the investigations
after that and had the photographs explained in such a way as
to show me that actually there was not any misdoing in relation
to the police officers.
Q224 Chairman: With the greatest
of respect, you are not a High Court judge, you are the ACPO Lead
on Public Order. So Sir Paul Stephenson was wrong to be concerned
and Dennis O'Connor in evidence to this Committee? I am sure you
have seen his evidence because that was part of the G20 protests.
These senior officers themselves were not present but saw exactly
what you have seen and have all commented on this and said that
they were concerned with the way in which these matters were dealt
with, to the extent that Sir Paul has set up a review. Are you
still not concerned with what was seen?
Ms Sim: I have not said
Q225 Chairman: Will you answer my
Ms Sim: You have asked me whether
I was concerned with the way the G20 was policed. My answer to
that is I do not know because I do not know the full extent of
the policing of the G20. The officers who will be able to provide
you with those accounts are the ones that you have got coming
before you next week.
Q226 Chairman: So you have no comment
to make about it despite the fact that the Metropolitan Commissioner
has made a comment and the new Inspector of Constabulary has made
a comment? ACPO and you as the Lead on ACPO will make no comment
on whether or not this matter was
Ms Sim: Until I am fully aware
of all of the facts I will not make comments about individual
police officers' actions.
Q227 Chairman: I am not asking you
about individual police officers. Did any behaviour at the G20
protests violate ACPO norms?
Ms Sim: What the ACPO norms say
is that police officers have to be able to justify any force that
is used in line with Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act. If those
officers are able to justify the violence that they used then
that would be all right. If not, then the investigations will
find that and the officers will be dealt with accordingly. I have
no intention at all of saying that if police officers have committed
deliberate acts of violence then that is acceptable. What I am
saying is I do not know the full circumstances and I do not believe
in trial by press. I believe that a full investigation has to
take place and what happens as a result of that investigation
then is what happens.
Q228 Mr Streeter: Could you just
share with us the ACPO guidelines for the policing of public protests
like this? I am interested particularly in kettling. We have heard
a little bit this morning about the line of police with the shields
just marching towards people without any warning and dialogues
with people. Could you just share the relevant guidelines that
ACPO has handed down? Are they available for public record?
Ms Sim: Firstly, I do not understand
the term "kettling". Kettling is not a British policing
public order tactic, it is something that has been created apparently
in the media.
Q229 Mr Streeter: What do you call
it when you group people together in this way?
Ms Sim: I would call that containment.
Q230 Mr Streeter: Containment?
Ms Sim: Yes. The public order
doctrine says that you should have a strategy in relation to how
you are going to police protests, you should be aware of the tactics
that you are going to use and your officers should be fully trained
to deliver the tactics that you are going to put into place. When
Mr Howarth said that the public order doctrine was that all police
officers viewed protest as unlawful, that is not the case: police
officers and our manuals talk about the fact that human rights
is at the very foundation of our democracy. If my mum wants to
protest, I am more than happy for her to protest, it is a fundamental
right, and police officers are taught the human rights articles.
Specific emphasis is placed on Article 10 and Article 11 in relation
to public order policing.
Q231 Mr Streeter: But when a six-foot
police officer cuffs a five foot young lady around the face, is
that in accordance with ACPO guidelines?
Ms Sim: What the ACPO guidelines
say is that the police officer has to be able to justify their
actions via section 3 of the Criminal Law Act. It is up to that
police officer and the investigation, because all we have heard
so far is Ms Fisher's version.
Q232 Mr Streeter: We have seen a
little bit of video evidence, have we not?
Ms Sim: Yes, there has been a
small part played, but, as I have also said, we have seen a considerable
number of times before evidence that would appear, in the first
place, to be prima facie but then subsequently does not
turn out to be so.
Q233 Mr Streeter: We have just heard
that the IPCC might take 12 months or 18 months to investigate
that particular claim. Do you think that is a reasonable amount
of time, or do you think that perhaps three months for something
like this would be much more reasonable? There is significant
public interest. What on earth can take 12 months?
Ms Sim: Again, I cannot talk for
the IPCC. I do not know whether it is the case that they have
said that. I am not disputing Ms Fisher's version of events, but
the IPCC would have to explain why they are saying it is going
to take 12 months.
Q234 Tom Brake: Can I come back on
the issue of public order policing? You say that the police are
taught about the human rights of protesters. Are you aware that
apparently, when the Army and the Police do joint training exercises
on public order, they are taught to consider the protesters they
are dealing with as the enemy? Is that likely to lead to good
public order policing if that is the attitude that is being adopted
in training exercises?
Ms Sim: Mr Brake, I am not aware
Q235 Tom Brake: Could I ask you perhaps
to investigate whether in joint Army and Police training that
is the attitude that is being adopted?
Ms Sim: I will certainly look
at that. I am not aware of any joint Army and Police training
in relation to public order, but I will certainly look at that
on your behalf.
Q236 Mr Winnick: Ms Sims, you have
said that you have listened to one version of events, namely Ms
Fisher's. Would I not be correct in saying that you have seen
for yourself what happened when you saw she was slapped across
the face on television?
Ms Sim: Mr Winnick, I have seen
it on television, but, as I have said, I did not see the issues
that happened before the incident.
Q237 Mr Winnick: Can I, therefore,
ask you this question. Are there any circumstances in which you
believe it would be appropriate for a police officer to slap someone
across the face in the way in which Ms Fisher was slapped across
Ms Sim: I believe whole-heartedly
the British law says that the officer has to be able to justify
Chairman: Could you answer Mr Winnick's
Q238 Mr Winnick: It is very simple.
You are not here as an apologist, presumably, for the Metropolitan
Police. Yes or no?
Ms Sim: I do not know all of the
circumstances. I cannot prejudge an officer that an investigation
is going on in relation to.
Mr Winnick: Unsatisfactory.
Chairman: We do accept "I do not
Q239 Ms Buck: Going back to the issue
of kettling as a term, as a concept, it is something that has
entered discourse in terms of crowd control probably since the
May Day demonstrations at the beginning of the decade. In an earlier
answer you kind of rejected it as a term. Are you saying, really,
that this is a media invention and that actually there has been
no change in the tactics of crowd control?
Ms Sim: Kettling is not a term
that is contained within any policing manuals or with any policing
concept. The issue of containment is a public order tactic.