Policing of the G20 Protests - Home Affairs Committee Contents


Examination of Witness (Questions 380-402)

SIR PAUL STEPHENSON AND COMMANDER BOB BROADHURST

19 MAY 2009

  Q380  Chairman: Do you want to tell us what it was then?

  Commander Broadhurst: I have not got it in front of me, sir.

  Chairman: Do you have it?

  Mr Winnick: The statement is here.

  Q381  Chairman: Read it out then.

  Commander Broadhurst: Read it out, sir.

  Q382  Mr Winnick: It did not indicate in any way. This is the point, and I do not want to pursue it because it is the subject of investigation and I do not want to pursue it endlessly, but I do put it to you, Mr Broadhurst, that this statement on 1 April made no mention that the police had contact with Mr Tomlinson beforehand. Do you stand by that? It is a simple question.

  Commander Broadhurst: If I can explain the statement, sir? At the time it was made, bear in mind I am in the control room at Lambeth—

  Q383  Mr Winnick: Why can you not answer yes or no?

  Commander Broadhurst: I need to put it in context.

  Chairman: We must allow the Commander to answer the question.

  David Davies: I would not be allowed to question a witness in this discourteous fashion.

  Q384  Chairman: I think the Commander is going to give us an explanation.

  Commander Broadhurst: At the time, I was in the control room at Lambeth where I only have access to the CCTV coverage that I see. The first time I became aware of Mr Tomlinson was seeing him on the pictures from our helicopter being treated by our medic officers. It became very clear to me that he was in a very bad way, and I was told very quickly afterwards that he had died. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our systems within the control room, I do not have the ability to rewind and look at any other footage. We can only do that subsequently. So, at that time, none of us in the control room had seen any of the footage that later came on television. The first I saw of Mr Tomlinson was him being treated. As soon as I had heard that he had died, because I now have a suspicious death, I did exactly as I would do in any other suspicious death on the streets. (By "suspicious" I mean we do not know why he has died.) I asked for it immediately to be made a crime scene, I sent a detective chief inspector to the scene to start forensic recovery; I asked that we capture any CCTV images we may have taken (bearing in mind I cannot immediately view them but I can ask for them to be kept so that we can subsequently view them—I do not have the facility to view them), and I asked that we make a note of which police serials were in the area, again knowing that as these things fade away from us it is hard to work out who was there. So I took steps, because I did not know whether Mr Tomlinson had come into contact with police, I did not know whether he had come into contact with the crowd, I did not know if he was just a passer-by who had been mugged, or just had a heart attack. I knew none of that, and I had seen none of the footage until I saw, on the television, a week later, the same images that you saw. We, the Metropolitan Police, had no prior knowledge as to what had happened, because we did not have the camera systems to allow us to go back and look. That has subsequently happened.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: Just two quick points, if I may, Chairman. You have got to remember this is now part of a third new investigation now being undertaken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into what was said. Secondly, I have to say it would be hugely irresponsible of the police to speculate as to we may or may not have come in contact with the inquiry; the best and safest course of action is to stick with the facts. That is what the statement did. To try and imagine, or try and distil early information so that we could have put a press statement out would have been hugely irresponsible, and I would not have supported that being done. The fact were published from the Met.

  Commander Broadhurst: Before that statement was issued, we contacted the IPCC's press officer, ran the statement past them and, also, contacted our Director of Professional Standards. The reason we put the statement out is normally we would not because there is potentially an IPCC investigation in the offing; it was because I was concerned about the potential community interest; I thought it was only right and proper we say: "Somebody has died in this demonstration. We do not know why."

  Q385  Mr Winnick: Mr Broadhurst, can I say that if a moment ago I seemed discourteous, I apologise.

  Commander Broadhurst: You did not, sir.

  Q386  Mr Winnick: It is not our wish to put dedicated public servants in a position where they are subject to rudeness. If I was, as I said, I apologise. Is it not important on future occasions to learn from what has happened as regards the statement and to be absolutely clear, as far as the Met is concerned, be it at the most senior level, or next to the senior level, like yourself, to have absolutely the facts gathered together, even if it means delaying the statement until you are absolutely certain of all the facts? Would that not give greater confidence to the public?

  Commander Broadhurst: I would then have been accused of not reporting the death at all.

  Q387  Mr Winnick: You smile, Sir Paul.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: Exactly what Commander Broadhurst is saying, Mr Winnick. The reality is you are damned if you do and you are damned if you do not. Not to have put anything out in these circumstances would potentially have led to much further problems. Our intent is to reduce problems and reduce tension on the street, but to go beyond the facts as you know them at the time is a very silly thing to do—

  Q388  Mr Winnick: The facts were not quite out with precision.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: The facts, as far as the Met was concerned, were put out with precision, and we learnt that from Stockwell.

  Q389  Tom Brake: It has been put to me by the crime correspondents with whom you meet, I understand, that their concern may have been about the verbal briefings that were issued as opposed to the written statement. Do you have any concerns about any verbal briefings that were issued?

  Commander Broadhurst: Is this before the event, sir?

  Q390  Tom Brake: Yes.

  Commander Broadhurst: I briefed the Crime Reporters' Association. The Commissioner has a monthly briefing with the Crime Reporters' Association. We took advantage of that, about 10 days to two weeks before the week of the summit, to personally brief them. I have read some articles since that my briefing, if you like, "hyped-up" the situation and "hyped-up" the potential violence that they were going to look at. That caused me concern. I have reread my transcript; I did not use the word "violence" or "force" once; I merely said it was the aspiration—and I repeat "aspiration"—of the protesters to "stop the City".

  Q391  Tom Brake: Thank you. Can I, just very briefly, state and go on the record saying that the overwhelming majority of officers on the day acted perfectly professionally and that it was very clear that a small minority of the crowd were there to cause trouble, were being violent and aggressive. I want to go on the record about that. I would certainly hate it if the UK moved to a more remote form of crowd control. I do not think that would be the right thing for us a country. I want to return to this very serious allegation, because I want to try and get you on the record just confirming, Commander Broadhurst, or Sir Paul—whoever is appropriate—whether you are going to be investigating that allegation about agent provocateur or not.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: I will go away from this Committee and examine what we have done with that letter and I will communicate with you immediately afterwards, Mr Brake.

  Q392  Tom Brake: Thank you. If you want my assistance with going through the footage I am very happy to do that, as I am contributing to this allegation in one small respect, in having said that I saw two men leave through the police cordon in a way that nobody else on the day had been able to do. Just to come on to a couple of questions about what actually happened in relation to a number of things, such as the availability of water, such as the availability of toilets, such as the warnings that were issued on the day and, also, the ability of people to leave through the police cordon. In the evidence that the Metropolitan Police Service gave to the MPA, there were, I think, some fairly categoric statements about water being available, toilets being freely available, small numbers of people being allowed to leave through the police cordon and warnings being issued to the crowd about the action the police were about to take. My evidence, as submitted in the report that you have received, is that water (certainly when we were requesting it) was not available; toilets were not available after a certain time because the police cordon had moved forward and they were then behind the cordon; there was no evidence that I could provide of anyone that we had asked to be allowed to leave through the police cordon to be allowed to leave, and there was evidence that warnings were not being issued before—and I personally saw it—the crowd were being charged by the police. How does that tally with the evidence that was provided by the MPS to the MPA?

  Commander Broadhurst: I think, sir, given that, again, I wrote the report and I stand by what I wrote in the report, everything in the report is factual. Again, having learnt the lessons from 2001 and the containment in Oxford Circus, one of the recommendations from that was that if police use that tactic on a large-scale again they should ensure toilets and water are provided. So through the City of London Corporation we did just that. They were put into Lombard Street at a given time. I was not aware, until you told me afterwards, sir, that that had moved back a bit so they were no longer available. People were let through cordons and warnings were given.

  Q393  Tom Brake: How many people were let through the cordon?

  Commander Broadhurst: We do not keep a note of that, I am afraid, Chairman. Bear in mind there were five cordons. A sizeable number of people were allowed through. If I can just finish, it comes back to, I think, the confusion of any public order situation. The lessons that I have taken away—and we are already starting to act upon—is, one, clearly, our communications to the crowd were not good enough, so we need to think: do we need to invest in dot matrix signs or louder PA systems rather than just a hand-held megaphone that probably does not reach too many people? That is an issue we need to look at. So, for instance, we put water into Lombard Street. I have asked the question: how would you have known if you were on the other side of it? You probably would not. I accept that we need to get that better. We need to get better, as we have said before, at identifying those within the crowd who we think will cause us problems and those who are wholly innocent. I have read, again, some very factual reports from your report, sir, where people have come up and said: "I'm epileptic, can you let me out?" The Bronze Commander's view was: if everybody comes up and says: "I suffer from this, that or the other condition", how do we know? We need a better way of filtering people out so that we can actually manage that. We need a better way of communicating to the officers at the front of the cordons—the very ones who have been the subject of assault, abuse and everything else—that they get the message from me. For instance, at one stage I was told that members of the press could not get out. That actually came through to us in the control room; the message I got back was: "Please let them out if they are bona fide press." That message takes a long, long time to get down to the front line. Again, I think your experience was officers at this end of the cordon interpret "discretion" in one way and officers at this end in another. That is for us to get into in our training. Again, I only have these two days a year and most of the training is around techniques and using cordons, etc. We do not do enough around the softer issues of speaking to crowds, etc. I accept that is more work for us to do.

  Q394  Tom Brake: Thank you. Can I make a recommendation that when the MPS do provide evidence to organisations like the MPA that that evidence is, perhaps, more caveated than is the case, because my experience was not what you have just described in terms of the police cordon—the way they were operating—the availability of water and the availability of toilets. In terms of credibility it has got to be not quite as black and white in terms of its presentation.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: Chairman, if I may say, the commissioning of Sir Denis O'Connor to actually review the tactic is not necessarily designed to lead to the result that containment is bad; actually, it may well be how do we improve containment, if that is the appropriate tactic and we are not going to move towards this distancing approach. Those lessons are about signage and they are about communications to the crowd but, critically, I think, Commander Broadhurst has raised a real issue (and you have raised a real issue) and that is how do we get the message through so that officers can with discretion let the right people through? That is extraordinarily difficult, and we need to work harder on that.

  Bob Russell: Commissioner and Commander, this is the second session we have had where the term "kettling" or "kettle" has been used. I find it offensive. I do not know where the term has come from. The police have stated it is not terminology they use. I wonder if, first of all, you could tell us what your terminology is and, perhaps, the London Evening Standard can run a competition to get a British-sounding terminology for this type of police operation.

  Chairman: Are you implying that "kettle" is not a British term?

  Q395  Bob Russell: It is something, Chairman, that in my many, many years in public life, and as a former court reporter, I have never heard of until relatively recently. So I am just wondering where the term came from.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: It is not a term we use; it is not a term we favour; we—and I think it is in the ACPO manual—use the term "containment", and that is what we will continue to use because that accurately describes what the tactic is.

  Q396  Ms Buck: Can I ask you about some of the evidence we have received from representatives of the NUJ, which is that journalists were told, on the evidence that was given to us: "You can go or you will be arrested. You can come back in half-an-hour." Do you regret that that side of the management was, perhaps, not done in a way that did not keep the media with you, in the first instance? Do you accept that that is an accurate version of events?

  Sir Paul Stephenson: I will pass on to Commander Broadhurst, but I think, as I have already said, Bob has already given an example of how officers on the front line were, perhaps, not responding as precisely as Bob would have intended to respond, in terms of letting journalists through.

  Commander Broadhurst: Just to tell you, on the allegation itself, clearly, if that was someone's experience then I accept it. I would say probably the officers would have a different version of what they said and what they did. Coincidentally, I spent a rather feisty afternoon yesterday in front of the NUJ and their photographers, many of whom had been at G20, and I think they are absolutely right. We do not set out to cause difficulties for journalists or photographers or anybody else; it is in our interests that things are reported and reported accurately. However, I come back to the point, if you look at any of the images, our officers were faced, sometimes, by more photographers and journalists than protesters, which they find very, very confusing. When they are told: "You can let journalists out", a lot of people will come up with a camera and say: "I'm a journalist", and they have not got a press pass; they might be working for a protest organisation, a college or university—it matters not. I got into quite an embroiled debate with the journalists yesterday. Certainly my view is, and I am sure the view of the Metropolitan Police is, that we support journalists in doing their job. We try to give them facilities. However, when there is a disorderly situation they have no more right than the ordinary citizen to come through all our cordons.

  Q397  Ms Buck: Can you also clarify for me, because constituents have been in contact with me about G20, that you would not seek to use powers available to you under counter-terrorism legislation to prevent photographers from taking pictures?

  Commander Broadhurst: Not at all. In fact, I make it quite clear at all briefings that we try never to confuse our counter-terrorist/anti-terrorist powers with our public order powers, and that goes to stop-and-search and section 44 as well.

  Q398  Gwyn Prosser: We took evidence from Sir Hugh Orde and he told us the value of using the Parades Commission prior to demonstrations and how effective it was in taking the heat and hostility out of those events. Would either of you favour the adoption of a similar strategy or similar commission throughout the UK?

  Sir Paul Stephenson: I will let Bob answer for himself. I wonder, rather—I know these are serious matters—whether, on mainland UK, that would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The vast majority of demonstrations and parades that we deal with we deal with responsibly; we have organisers who tell us what they intend to do and we police it very well. To actually put that under an additional constraint, I think, would be an unnecessary constraint. The difficulty we have is when, on a very small number of occasions, we have organisers who are not willing to share with us their intentions, so that we can do something to facilitate their peaceful protest. I am not entirely sure we are comparing apples with apples there. I have worked in Northern Ireland, on the Garvaghy Road on Drumcree back in 1992 in a very significant public disorder situation. It was (and, perhaps, still is) a different world and not one that we can compare directly with our streets.

  Commander Broadhurst: I fully agree with that. As I said earlier on, in the vast majority of protests/demonstrations/marches that we deal with, we have organisers who come to us, they tell us what they want to do, we negotiate and then we facilitate whatever it is. Generally, they go exceedingly well. That is what happened on 1 April. Where we have issues are where we have nobody to talk to. Whether you had a Parades Commission or not, anarchists, by their very nature, would not talk to anybody in authority—otherwise they would not be anarchists. I do have some issues with Climate Camp. Whilst I accept that they are a peaceful organisation, and I understand what they are trying to achieve, they will not put forward organisers because they say they are a non-hierarchical organisation where nobody makes decisions, which then gives me huge problems in trying to find out, as happened on 1 April, what they intend to do and where they intend to do it. They sometimes confuse being peaceful with unlawful.

  Chairman: A final question on a non-G20 related subject.

  Q399  Mr Winnick: Commissioner, your immediate predecessor had an agenda to do whatever could be done to encourage black, Asian and women into the force. Does that remain your objective, and how successful do you believe you will be over a period of time?

  Sir Paul Stephenson: Absolutely. I think the organisation—and I am on record as saying that, Mr Winnick—has made very significant progress since the Macpherson report, but there is much more yet to be done. We have seen significant improvements in our recruiting; last year, I think, the percentage of new recruits into policing—that is new recruits—ran at something like just over 16% from black and minority ethnic communities. That is light years away from where we were 10 years ago. Our target is in excess of 25% from black and minority ethnic communities in our next recruiting round. Similarly, we are trying to improve the position of women, which again has improved dramatically. On recruiting we have made great strides forward, but there is more to do. Similarly, there is more to do in how we treat people once inside the force; how do we ensure that all our processes and systems allow people to access not only advancement in a vertical sense but, also, in a lateral sense. I think you cannot police London without understanding diversity.

  Mr Winnick: Thank you very much.

  Q400  Chairman: Have you dealt with all the outstanding cases that were brought against the Met as far as racial discrimination was concerned? Is that all now sorted out, because we do not read about them any more?

  Sir Paul Stephenson: There will always be ongoing issues because people have a right to bring employment tribunals. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on high profile cases. There is one very high profile case outstanding, but I think the other high profile case is now settled.

  Q401  Chairman: Do you think we will have a black Commissioner some day in London?

  Sir Paul Stephenson: It is not for me to comment on, but certainly not for the next four years because I intend to be here.

  Chairman: We are very pleased you are there.

  Mr Winnick: We will believe it when we see it.

  Q402  Chairman: On behalf of the Committee could I thank both you, Commander Broadhurst, and you, Commissioner, for coming here. I am sure that you will be back in the future, as we have always dealt very courteously with your office, and we wish you the very best of luck in your term as Commissioner.

  Sir Paul Stephenson: Thank you very much.





 
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