Student protests may be banned altogether if violence continues

Scotland Yard will consider asking the Home Secretary to ban further student marches should the levels of violence which have marred the recent protests continue, Britain's most senior police officer said yesterday.

More than 180 people have been arrested after four protests in London against the Government's proposal to increase student tuition fees.

The most violent scenes were witnessed last week, when protesters clashed with police in Parliament Square. The clashes left 12 police officers and more than 40 protesters injured. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall came under attack as they were driven to a charity event nearby.

Yesterday the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson spoke about a "sustained and serious level of violence". He said banning students from marching was a power he had not ruled out using. "It is one of the tactics we will look at and something we will keep under review, and if we think it is the right thing to do then we will do it," he said.

But he added that a ban could cause more trouble. Under the Public Order Act, the police can ask the Home Secretary to ban marches. Sir Paul said: "When you have got people willing to break the law in this way, what is the likelihood of them obeying an order not to march or complying with conditions on a demonstration? Sometimes putting that power in could just be inflaming the situation further."

The NUS president, Aaron Porter, said in response: "Peaceful protest is an integral part of our heritage and it is the responsibility of the police to help facilitate that."

The Commissioner also spoke of his worry that the continued protests are "stripping London out". He explained that almost 3,000 officers are being deployed to police the protests and it is leaving neighbourhoods in other parts of London vulnerable. Speaking about the suggestion that water cannons could be used to control crowds in the future, Sir Paul said that the force had ruled that option out three years ago but that officers were taking advice from colleagues in Northern Ireland about its efficacy in London. He added that currently the Met does not have a water cannon. Sir Paul refused to say whether "snatch squads" will be deployed immediately to arrest the most serious troublemakers. But he did say that, following Thursday's scenes in which monuments were defiled, police will consider boarding up potential targets for damage.

Sir Paul also revealed that he will be off work, possibly until the end of January, as he is due to undergo surgery for what is believed to be a non-cancerous tumour in his femur.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence