Why And How The Policing Of Public

Protest Has Changed In The Last 25 Years Essay, Research Paper Historically political protests, demonstrations and riots were quite common in Britain. What was not common

Protest Has Changed In The Last 25 Years Essay, Research Paper

Historically political protests,

demonstrations and riots were quite common in Britain. What was not common

however, was a structured public service department equipped to deal with such

events. This essay will purport to show how and why policing of public protest

has changed in the past 25 years.?

Eighteenth century Britain experienced some horrendous rioting, i.e. the

St George?s Field Massacre 1768[1], the Gordon Riots 1780[2] and the Peterloo Massacre in 1819[3], is this a mirror image of things to come.?? ??????????? One of the major functions of the police has always

been the control of public order, i.e. demonstrations, sports grounds,

festivals and striking pickets. ?The duty of a police officer….includes

the preservation of the peace, or rather the prevention of a breach of the

peace…?[4]?It is also understood that the police have certain obligations in

ensuring the physical safety of people when faced with large gatherings.

However, three elements cause major problems for the police when faced with any

large gathering, (i) freedom of public expression, (ii) police

obligation to the public safety of the participants and (iii) their

obligation to the protection of the rights of others).? ???????????? It was not until the late 1800?s and early 1900?s that

British society started to settle down. The emergence of WWI made it difficult

for public protests of a large scale and Britain remained quiet as regards to

public disorder. However, with the emergence of Oswald Mosely and his right

wing supporter?s the situation began to change, hence the passing of the Public

Order Act 1936. Again, Britain began to quieten down, and even the

demonstrations became more civilised, i.e. CND rallies which were peaceful. ?Since the end of WWI there has been a marked declined in violent confrontation?[5]???????????? The early 1960?s saw one of Britain?s most serious

natural disasters in Wales. This event illustrated how ill equipped and

disorganised the police forces were in dealing with a large scale situation.

Laws and the policing skills which were in existence at this time were for

dealing with events such as future wars and not for police forces to assist

others in the occurrence of a natural disaster. Thus arrangements for ?mutual

aid? required a major overhaul, hence the establishment of the National

Reporting Centre, (centred in Scotland Yard and made operational in times

of national emergency). The passing of the Police Act

1964 and the establishment of the Metropolitan Force?s Special Patrol

Group (mobile public order police squads) was an attempt to make a more

organised and efficient police force.???????????? The growing prosperity in Britain in the 1950?s and

1960?s opened up a whole new domain of available information with television

and radio, the general public for the first time became aware of issues and

events nationally and internationally and witnessed a much more organised,

violent and confrontational style of protest and demonstrations, such as the Anti

Vietnam War demonstration which took place out side the American Embassy

in 1968. ????????????? This new style of aggressive demonstrating began to

gain ground with the emergence of mass picketing of miners at the Saltley

Coke Works in Orgreave 1972. The early 1970?s was an era of great

political turbulence in Britain, and it saw the development of the New Labour

and a rise in the far right which generated more protests. With the emergence

of this new style? political protest the

problem for the police was that they were not equipped in terms of specialist

equipment and trained to withstand these aggressive style demonstrations.? Hence it became common at these aggressive

demonstrations for the police to use dustbin lids, milkcrates and anything else

at hand which they could construct makeshift shields from in order to protect

themselves from missiles. ????????????? This inability to be able to disperse violent

demonstrations put the police in a very dangerous position, thus the issues of

equipping the police forces with tactical training and protective wear started

to be addressed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (A.C.P.O).

Unfortunately, the A.C.P.O were unable to finish addressing the situation

before more civil disturbances broke out.??

??????????????? In the St. Pauls area of Bristol the

police made a daylight raid on a club known as the ?Black and White Club?. It

was an extremely sensitive operation which resulted in significant rioting. The

then Chief Constable, Brian Weigh removed his out-numbered officers from the

area until reinforcements arrived, however, considerable damage to local

businesses and offices ensued by angry rioters in the absence of the police,

hence there was a local into the inadequate handling of the disorder. ????????????? ??????????????? 1981 saw the development of the Tactical Options

Manual (T.O.M.) which set out newly approved tactics for dealing with

disorder. Police training at this point began to follow the manual and the

larger police forces were issued with riot equipment. The training of advanced

riot control techniques required by individual police officers began with

training in skills such as (i) restraining and arresting armed and

non-armed violent attackers with the use of batons, shields or chemical devices

(ii) training in riot formations, shield tactics, group movement, arrest

skills and first aid.[6]? Senior

officers were being trained in (i) the management of large groups and

tactical development for more effective results. (ii) Communications of

intelligence to upper management for resource assignment. This training was

based on three levels of crisis management, (i) Bronze, where the

officer is in direct charge of the scene and reports back to Silver, (ii)

Silver, is the major incident commander of the situation who in return reports

to Gold, (iii) Gold is the most senior officer in charge of the

operation.[7]????? ????????????? However, no sooner had the new training begun within

the larger police forces that another significant public disorder erupted.? The Metropolitan police were engaged in the Swamp

81 operation which was trying to deal with rising problem of street robbery

(mugging) centred mainly in Brixton.?

The rioting which started on 10 April 1981 and lasted 4 days was a

delayed reaction of an event being misinterpreted, namely that a young man was

being assaulted, when the police went to assist him it was interpreted as the

police going to arrest or assault him. ? ????????????? Once again the police were not sufficiently capable

of dealing with this type of situation. Although training had begun, relatively

few officers had finished the required training for the few tactics they

possessed to be of any use to them. The police used their new riot shields to

form a wall of protection from the missiles and petrol bombs being thrown at

them.? Within days of the Brixton

disorders, the then Commissioner of Police, Sir David McNee and

the then Home Secretary, William Whitelaw set up an inquiry into the

disorders and appointed Lord Scarman with the power to make

recommendations on policing public disorder.???????????? ?????????????? Within a matter of weeks of the inquiry, there came

a barrage of riots breaking out all over Britain, i.e. Manchester, Leicester,

Toxteth in Merseyside, Birmingham and Southall in London.[8]? The Toxteth

riot saw for the first time in British policing history the use of C.S gas and

armoured police vehicles being driven at high speeds into the rioting crowds. ?….C.S. gas….merely inconvenienced rioters and

sometimes the police if the wind was in the wrong direction….but never the less could

harm the lungs of innocent people?.[9]????????????? The then Chief Constable James Anderton of the

Greater Manchester police had seen the tactics which the police in Northern

Ireland used when faced with civil disorder and he trained his officers in a

much more organised and systematic fashion. Hence, when copycat rioting broke

out in Manchester it never gained the degree verocity as in some of the other

area?s in Britain mentioned above.? This

along with the T.O.M. led to more police forces training their officers in a

more systematic and organised manner.?????????? When the Conservative government got back into office in

1979 they vowed that they would not allow the miners to beat them again in a

show down as happened at Orgreave, thus the Thatcher government planned for

their final showdown with the miners by passing legislation restricting

industrial relations. This inevitable showdown came in 1984 with Arthur Scargil

leading the miners, using tactics such as flying pickets, secondary picketing

and mass demonstrations.? In order for

the police forces with significant coal mines in their area to deal with the

situation they had to resort to the use of mutual aid, co-ordinated by the

N.R.C. ????????? The police were now showing some signs of being better

equipped with items such as the C-Type Rapid Response Shield[10] and training to deal with public disorder. They began

using controversial tactics which were approved in the T.O.M,? such as setting up road blocks in order to

stop flying pickets, and the ?Early Resolution? technique which allows

fast moving formation officers to break up riots when under attack by either

interlinking their shields to advance or safely withdraw. The primary aim of

?early resolution? is to arrive at a situation, make a situation judgement and

deploy and arrest, this prevents the situation escalating and placing officers

at risk. Thus eliminating high press coverage, looting and eliminates a safe

haven behind which rioters can operate. Hence the police now have the

initiative and not the rioters. ????????? However, it must be noted that the police were not happy

about the mutual aid situation as they believed policing of this sort was a

local activity and felt that there was too much government intervention at the

N.R.C with ministers overseeing the situation. The police were being instructed

to use a more military, aggressive and intimidating style tactics in the T.O.M

as mentioned above, to deal with the striking miners as disturbances broke out

all over the country.? ??????????? One particularly criticised tactic in the manual was

that of police officers using their batons to bang on their riot shield in a

rhythmic manner which was perceived as being very intimidating by rioting

crowds (and probably fused their anger more rather than helping the situation).

???????? Although the miners strike finished after eighteen months

it can not be said that either the police nor the miners were victorious, the

only winners as such to come out of this long lasting series of public disorder

was the Thatcher government. In a sense, like they had promised they quashed

the miners. However, the police faced a backlash the likes of which they had never

encounted with allegations of political intervention during the policing of the

miners strike.? Senior police offices

wanted desperately to re-establish the separation of policing and politics. ???????? In April of 1985 the Public Order Training Centre

(P.O.T.C.) and the Public Order Intelligence Unit (O.C.U.) [11] were established to train public order officers

within the Metropolitan Police Service.?

It trains every rank of police officer with the skills needed to face

and deal effectively with public disorder.[12]? 1985 also saw

more inner city outbreaks of public disorder and hostility towards the police

and a police office was killed during the Broadwater Farm riot. ???????? Other outbreaks around the country were developing i.e. in

Birmingham and the Battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge with ?Operation

Solstice?, these new riots particularly in Birmingham were not just violent

and aggressive in nature the protesters began causing damage which amounted to

millions of pounds. The police again came under allegations that they were

being politically driven and were using?

semi paramilitary tactics against the protesters[13], hence the establishment of the Scarman Centre

in 1987, which was set up to research and teach by professionally training

officers in the study of public disorder and crime prevention.[14] ????????????? The governments response to the problems of this era

was to issue the police with more and more powers and set into motion more

legislation which was going to see the biggest ever riots Britain had ever

experience on a massive national scale in 1990. ????????????? The police had been trying with some success since

the miners strike to disengage themselves politically from the government in

order to deal more effectively with any major outbreaks of disorder, however,

with the passing of the Poll Tax bill and the build up of united public

protest it was becoming more difficult for the police to encourage the public

that they wanted to get back into a community style of policing again. The Battle

of Trafalgar which the poll tax riots became known as commenced on 31 March

1990 and the police attended in force[15]? ?…a

peaceful, disciplined demonstration became a violent melee because police

grossly over-reacted, charging marchers with vans and horses, bearing down en

masse on terrified crowds and beating up innocent people?.[16] ?????????????? In conclusion as to how the policing of public

protest has changed over the past 25 years it must be said that there has been

an influx of new idea?s in trying to tackle a problem that does not seem to be

getting any better, with some success and a lot of criticisms. Just looking at

our riot police of today it is evident that Britain is moving closer and closer

to a more military style policing of public disorder as it was in 18th century

Britain.[17] ?Proactive, aggressive policing fans the flames ???????? of

public disorder, it does not quell them?[18] ??????????? The recent events of October this year with the visit

of the Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the policing tactics used have once

again come under heavy criticisms that the police are being politically

driven.? Discussing the issue on BBC

Radio 4?s Today programme, former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation,

Mike Bennett said ?…this is not the ?normal? police reaction…I can only

assume the word came down from above, possibly government level, and the police

have over reacted?.[19] Footnotes & Bibliography???? ????? [1] The

Saint George?s Field Massacre 10 May 1768 a crowd of 15,000 gathered in protest

of former MP John Wilks being imprisoned at the King?s Bench Prison. 7 citizens

were killed which led to subsequent disturbances throughout London. [2]? Lord George Gordon led a crowd of 50,000 on

2 July to the House of Commons in protest of the Roman Catholic Relief Act

1778. The protest turned into a riot which lasted for 5 days when on 7 July the

military was called in and again citizens were shot at and killed. The Gordon

riots saw 285 citizens killed and 173 wounded with a mere 139 arrested. [3]? The Manchester Patriotic Union Society

established in March 1819 led a crowd of 50,000 to Saint Peters Field on 16th

July 1819 to obtain Parliamentary reform. 11 citizens were killed and over 400

injured. ? [4] p.

14? J. B. Hill,? K. Fletcher-Rogers Police Powers and the

Rights of the Individual (1988) ? [5] Steve

Uglow, Criminal Justice (1995)?

quoting Greay,s work? Policing

Industrial Disputes (1985) [6]

Advanced Riot Control Techniques – Training Considerations: Civil Defence

Supply Research, Development, Supply & Manufacture of Specialised Police

Security Products. http://www.civildefence.org ? [7] ibid. [8] p.

156? Law and Disorder (1984)? John Alderson [9] p.

157? ibid. [10] C-Type

Rapid Response Shield was developed for police units ho needed a very

lightweight riot shield for snatch groups. It is a fully interlocking riot

shield which includes over head cover for the officers. ? [11] The

Public Order Intelligence Unit (O.C.U.) New Scotland Yard and The Public Order

Training Centre Hounslow London.

http://www.met.police.uk/1hq/co11/1hqpunham.htm [12] See

Picture 1 a fully equipped O.C.U. officer.

http://www.met.police.uk/1hq/co11/1hqpu3.htm [13] The

Observer 3 Nov 1991 doing a review on the video documentary ?Operation

Solstice?? See Picture 2 [14]? The Scarman Centre University of Leicester.

http;// www.le.ac.uk/cp/cpin.html [15] See

picture 3 Scenes from film footage shown at the time on the news and again in

the Independant Sunday 15 September 1990.?

[16] Sandy

Smithers: Watching Brief: The Guardian 18 Sept 1990. [17] see

picture 4 Complete equipment of an elite riot officer, Civil Defence Supply. ? [18]? Jim Carey, Squall Webzine Content Editor;

BBC News Thursday July 29,1999 talking about the ?Carnival against Capitalism?

protesting the opening of the G8 summit in Cologne. ? [19] BBC

News Sunday October 24 1999.