Protesters win judicial review of G20 police tactics

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The Independent Online

Protestors who complained that they were beaten and unlawfully restrained by the police during the G20 demonstrations have won a judicial review of the tactics used by the officers during the event.

The announcement today coincided with the publication of a HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report which warned that the police risk losing the public’s sympathy and consent if they do not review the way public protests are policed.

The legal challenge was brought against the Metropolitan Police by three protestors. Researcher Chris Abbott, student Hannah McClure and Josh Moos, a campaigner for Plane Stupid, claim they were kettled and violently treated by the police during the protests in London’s Bishopsgate in April this year.

They aim to prove that officers from Scotland Yard broke the law in their attempts to police the protest. Solicitor John Halford, of Bindmans, who represents three protesters, said a full judicial review hearing will take place in the Administrative Court next year. If the protestors win they could be awarded damages.

He said: “The court’s decision granting permission for judicial review in this litigation and the HMIC report highlight a fundamental problem with the policing in Britain.”

The report, Adapting to Protest: Nurturing the British Model of Policing, says that controversial tactics for tackling highly-charged demonstrations could erode the public’s support for police. It added that apparently unfair and aggressive moves may help officers keep order at protests, but they risk damaging confidence in the service.

And it criticised the variation between forces in tactics, training and equipment and stressed the need for a uniformed approach.

The report was written by Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who said that the British style of policing for demonstrations had been neglected and eroded as forces focused on other areas.

He said: “Homicide has advanced enormously in the last couple of years, counter-terrorism and neighbourhood policing too. But this, curiously, where police are on display on screens around the world, has clearly not been monitored in the same way.”

Mr O’Connor admitted his review has not been a “source of joy”for everybody in the police service. Yet reaction in other quarters was positive. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said Britain’s “proud history” of policing by consent is undermined by over-the-top tactics such as those seen during the G20 protests.

Paul McKeever, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said policing must remain consistent and called for better levels of training for officers involved in public order.