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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine