Letter: British policing

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The Independent Online
Sir: People attending the anti-vivisection demonstration to which Susan Dickens refers in her letter (20 November) were searched under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. This was because we anticipated serious disorder. Our expectations were, unfortunately, accurate.

Evidence-gathering teams with cameras were used throughout the day. The evidence will assist us in identifying offenders who, during the demonstration, tore down a fence guarding private property, threw missiles at police officers and fought with them in a frustrated attempt to break into the farmyard.

Evidence gathering and searches continued after the main demonstration was over. After demonstrations, groups of protesters carry out "home visits" which intimidate individual employees of the farm at their home addresses. These have as much potential for trouble as the demonstrations themselves.

The fact that someone is middle-aged or elderly is no longer a guarantee that he or she is not prepared to participate in violence, disorder and attacks on police officers.

This is the state of the Britain that we police today.

PAULINE M SYDENHAM

Superintendent Area Commander

Thames Valley Police

Witney, Oxfordshire

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