Police chief condemns G20 officers for removing ID tags

Stephenson criticises Met's policing of demonstration

The actions of some police officers at the G20 protests were "unacceptable", according to both the Met Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, and the man leading the investigation into police tactics.

Sir Paul said it was "absolutely unacceptable" that some officers covered or removed their identity shoulder tags during the protests.

Denis O'Connor, the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary, called for an immediate end to the practice. Mr O'Connor, appearing before the Commons Home Affairs Committee, contrasted alleged police brutality against protesters to the heroism shown by the south London constable Gary Toms, who died last week after he was run down by a getaway car.

"When you see something that does not square with that noble cause, it is disappointing and hugely concerning," Mr O'Connor said. "My concern was obviously about the individual incidents where officers, on the face of it, appeared to break with their colleagues and assault people."

The Home Affairs Committee confirmed that it would hold its own inquiry into the G20 policing, as The Independent disclosed yesterday. It plans to publish its report in June, alongside Mr O'Connor's initial conclusions on the tactics used by police.

Mr O'Connor admitted that seeing images of protester Nicola Fisher being struck across the face by an officer made him "very uncomfortable". He added: "I would expect police officers in public order and other situations to wear their numbers so the public can identify them. It acts as a good check and balance for all parties in the situation."

More evidence of police brutality emerged yesterday: a video posted on YouTube showed a young, female protester being pushed in the face by an officer. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is conducting three investigations into G20 policing, examining the death of Ian Tomlinson, the treatment of Ms Fisher and a complaint from an unnamed 23-year-old man.

Yesterday, Police Federation chairman Peter Smith accused IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick of running a witch-hunt against G20 officers and depicted him as a "grandstanding anti-police campaigner". "Keen, apparently, to don the mantle of witchfinder general, Mr Hardwick discusses some selective aspects of G20 and passes lofty and withering judgment on London's police officers," he said.

Yesterday, as more footage emerged of alleged police brutality, the IPCC failed to secure an injunction to prevent Channel 4 News from broadcasting fresh pictures of events preceding Mr Tomlinson's death. Originally intended to be screened yesterday, the report is now scheduled to be shown tonight.

The IPCC said yesterday that a third post-mortem would be carried out on Mr Tomlinson, who died minutes after being pushed to the ground by an officer. The first post-mortem concluded that he died from a heart attack, but a second examination certified the cause of death as abdominal bleeding.

Mr O'Connor admitted to concerns about the use of "kettling", a tactic deployed by police during the G20 protests to restrict the movement of protesters. It meant that some people caught up in the protests on their way home from work were prevented from leaving for many hours, while those penned in were denied access to food and drink. He said the tactic posed obvious problems when used "inflexibly", and his investigation would be examining how it was applied during the G20 summit. Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, released a video showing police preventing a journalist from leaving the "kettle".

MPs also raised concerns over so-called "distraction tactics", which allow officers to strike anyone who they believe is acting violently. Nick Hardwick, head of the IPCC, said that the term was a "euphemism" and that support for the technique may have to be looked at as officers could not be blamed for deploying a tactic they had been trained to use. The Police Federation accused him of conducting a witch-hunt against G20 officers.

The Home Office minister Lord West defended G20 police. "I think we should be extremely proud of them," he said.

He did not want to "excuse" any "criminal acts" under investigation, he said, but insisted that British police tactics were better than "water cannon, baton rounds or shooting people - all of which seem to occur in some other countries".

Lord West, speaking in the House of Lords, added: "Thousands of officers acted absolutely professionally and proportionately, thousands were actually able to demonstrate peacefully on our streets, criminal activity in the rest of the metropolis was kept to an absolute minimum and the police also maintained high levels of security.

"And I think we should be extremely proud of them. This does not excuse acts which are criminal and there are now investigations taking place for those particulars.

"But in general I think we are very well-served by our police. I am very proud of them and the way I approach it generally is they are on our side and they are our people."

A policeman has been interviewed under caution on suspicion of Mr Tomlinson's manslaughter.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home