Stupid policemen will need to explain themselves

Police still don’t realise that they are now doing their jobs in a goldfish bowl. It’s just as well there’s plenty of video about when coppers seem thuggish and their bosses seem thick.

Readers of previous posts wil know that I think much peaceful direct action protest is about as stupid as possible. In general, I have defended police tactics in dealing with it. I have been at odds with the liberty movement and even the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and its thinking about the policing of protest. Even the G20 London protest seems to have been better policed and managed than the protest in Continental cities which followed at the weekend.

All that said, the coppers have given “the other side” far too much evidence that they are thick and nasty. Let’s list the dire catalogue so far.

(1) Police appear to have been thuggish in their disbanding and dismantling of the climate camp in Bishopsgate on the evening of 1 April. Yes, the camp was absurd, and yes it had to be got rid of at some point. But if it is true that unmarked policement thumped harmless protestors, then the police have taken leave of their senses. I am not so concerned that some junior policemen may have misbehaved themselves. I am very concerned that no proper account of the events and of disciplinary action has been given by senior officers in public.

(2) Something similar applies to the way a policeman hit Ian Tomlinson. From start to finish that incident seems to have found no response, or the wrong response, from senior policemen. I can think of one reason why senior policemen have to stay quiet in the wake of such events. It is that legal process has to take its course and it won’t do for officials to second guess the process. I don’t know whether this is what has silenced senior people. I am pretty sure that the chain of command will need as soon as possible to be very frank in admitting that any thuggishness in the junior ranks is almost completely a management and a cultural failure.

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Publication date

09 April 2009