The Chairwoman of the Metropolitan Police Civil Liberties Panel has seen a video which shows protesters being crushed by police in a "kettle" during demonstrations against the tripling of university fees. She described it as "appalling" and "ghastly".
Victoria Borwick, has suggested that people should complain officially about the Met. Ms Borwick is a Tory member of the London Assembly government.
The Metropolitan Police Authority, which scrutinizes the work of the Met, said a senior officer must report formally on its tactics for controlling and policing demonstrations.
An Oxford University postgraduate student has presented them with a video shot on his cell phone showing protesters shouting that there is no room" where the riot police are pushing them at times with horses. One student calls out a warming that the police are going to kill someone if they carry on.
Ms Borwick said that she could hear distress in the people’s voices on the video, and whilst she did not think that people could run riot in London this kind of policing made people very, very angry.
The video was shot by a student, Musab Younis of Wadham College, Oxford. He says that he started filming outside parliament just after the result of the vote was announced.
The police were trying to push people further into Parliament Square: maybe around 1,000 people were being held next to Westminster tube station, around 20 metres from the bridge. The police moved in from both sides, crushing people who were hemmed in by a wall on one side, vans and horses on another side, and two lines of police. People who fell over were simply trampled
Mr Younis said that they appealed to the police on the front lines, telling them that there was no space, that there were people who were being badly hurt and having trouble breathing. He said that they were ignored and if you didn’t move, they would kick you in the shins.
But it wasn’t just young people who were kettled. David Hough, a 51-year-old supply teacher was also caught in up the kettle. He reported that it was like Hillsborough. People were squashed and were saying that they couldn’t breathe.
A public order policing and law expert from the University of East Anglia said that he thought that what the police were doing was, in fact, illegal.
Clearly these marches have to be policed, if for no other reason for the safety of people living in the areas, or those passersby who are not involved in the protest (although that didn’t do Mr Tomlinson much good). But perhaps if the police showed a little more tolerance of protesters and if they would treat protesters with a little more respect, then perhaps they would find there would not be the escalation that the poorly policed demos in London have seen.
Police need to remember that they are public servants. They are not there to protect MPs from the anger that is felt by people whom they are denying that which they themselves enjoyed.
Parts of the video can be viewed here.
London's police need to learn, and rapidly, how to deal with these protests. I seriously doubt that Osborne's plans to reduce spending on policing will be able to be applied to London. These demonstrations will not go away. It may not be students next time, but there will be a next time. Then there are the Olympics coming up and that is a perfect time to demonstrate. What with that, terrorism, and having to stop people entering the Olympics are wearing T shirts emblazoned with "Burger King" or "Pepsi Cola", the police are going to need to perfect their techniques. They have to remember that the TV cameras of the world will be here.