Sunday, 13 November 2011

Student Protest

                    7 minutes of tedium if you want to watch it.

I went to Dale Farm weeks ago now and was sent home as a learned judge decided that he wanted more time to consider the case of the travellers before he confirmed the eviction could go ahead. When the eviction eventually took place I was away on holiday. I saw on the news that the usual suspects or 'swampeys' as they are sometimes known, had taken over the protest on behalf of the travellers.

The police took it all slowly and steadily and dismantled the barriers and lock-ons etc. Some officers had buckets of urine and excrement thrown over them. There were some fires and a few scuffles. The media had some good pictures to show but overall the eviction went without any major problems or criticism of the police.

I was slightly surprised to be packed off to London last Wednesday for the student protest march. The Met have rarely asked for assistance and support from County Forces but the August riots seem to have changed this. In the short term at least, it appears the Met don't want to be criticised again for under-resourcing incidents such as this.

Fewer protesters than expected turned up at the event and the police were robust regarding setting up tents at Trafalgar Square and ensuring that the march followed it's prescribed route. Inevitably a few agitators tried to cause problems and there were around 20 arrests. In general, the protest march took place peacefully.

As no rioting took place, no premises were smashed up or invaded, no looting, coverage within the media was not significant. The march organisers criticised police for what they perceived as over policing of the event. They also suggested that protesters had stayed away because of the threat of the use of baton rounds. This is a shame because in reality this was democratic protest almost at its best. No 'kettling' took place. Students exercised their right to protest. The protest was largely peaceful and nearly everyone went home afterwards unhurt.

I don't believe that the policing of the event was overpowering or that the threat of baton rounds influenced attendance at the event. I believe the reasons for the reduced numbers and lack of violence at this protest are fourfold.

1. Some of the agitators who attend these events were unavailable having been imprisoned or placed on bail conditions following the riots in August and the Dale Farm eviction.
2. Robust sentencing has provided the much needed deterrent that has been missing in our justice system. On the day of the protest four thugs who took part in the previous student protest (riot) received sentences totalling six years.
3. The protest was midweek and many genuine students were not prepared to travel to London and miss their studies.
4. The police had sufficient numbers and their actions made it clear that the agreed terms of the march would be adhered to and those protesters who wished to commit criminal acts would be dealt with robustly.


  1. In an unarmed society, fear which is deliberately generated to the extent of police assuming the role of State shootists, must be attended by consequences of the dire kind.

  2. As usual, the peaceful democratic protest is ignored. Sadly violence make people take note. You mock the protest for being tedious. What is your real opinion on the tuition fees situation? Did the police threaten to use baton rounds? If so that is despicable, because they are using fear to control democracy.

  3. @ Anonymous 17/11 - I thought I was making the same point as you. It is unfortunate that peaceful protest does not attract the media coverage that the violent ones do.

    My daughter started 7 years of medical school this year and I thank God that it isn't next year when the tuition fees would be treble. My opinions of tuition fees on a police blog are fairly irrelevant. I understand the financial mess the last Government and the banks left us in and that it must be resolved. I think that far too many people are going to University and the numbers should be reduced. I aslo think that University places should be means tested and should be free for those that cannot afford it.

    The police made a statement before the student protest that baton rounds had been authorised if necessary. You might see this as a threat but it seems obvious to me that the police would not use baton rounds unless serious violence occurred. The police would be crucified in the press and by the public if baton rounds were used in anything but the most dire circumstances. I don't see the statement made would concern anyone attending a purportedly peaceful protest.

  4. "The police would be crucified if they used baton rounds in anything but the most dire circumstances" You mean like if they used tasers in all and any circumstances instead of only the most extreme circumstances where guns would otherwise be used? That is what we were told when the police were given tasers they would only be used instead of guns. And I hardly think you need baton rounds, in the 80s you got stuck in with wooden sticks wearing nothing but the clothes on your backs. What's changed? And don't say obsession with rights because threats of baton rounds and yes it is a threat we're not idiots shows you're not terribly bothered about that.

  5. Anonymous 19th Nov - 'We're not idiots' The jury's out on that one. Show me where you were ever told tasers would only be used instead of guns. I do love bigots who alter facts to suit their own prejudices.
    I was around in the 80's with my wooden stick and it was pretty useless. I used it once to subdue a prisoner. It doesn't look pretty and can cause a lot of damage. CS and taser are a lot more effective and don't cause any lasting damage to the recipient.
    Baton rounds are a different matter. They can cause serious injury and death. They are not however particularly effective on individuals but are a significant deterrent to crowds. They must only be used in the most serious circumstances such as the August riots, when they should have been used. I don't have a problem with that and I don't see why you or any law abiding citizen should either. Wolfie Smith's are obviously a different matter.

  6. Police need to become more politically aware. There is a line between keeping public order and becoming a force for oppression. As a group policemen need to decide where that line is and soon. Most people, including ordinary police officers, understand that they are the victims of a problem that was not of their causing. The primary movers and instigators of the economic crisis reside in the financial sector. Those instigators are still calling the shots. Goverment policies across the world are aimed at protecting financial sector interests at the expense of the welfare of their respective citizens. There will be more protests because there will be more hardship. The powers within the financial sector are replacing elected officials and essentially taking over nations (see Their interests lie in protecting the assets of the wealthy.
    Please take note that it is very easy to cross the line from keeping the peace to oppressing the people. It doesn't happen overnight, it happens in small little steps. One day you are preventing some anarchic protestors from throwing a rock at a shop window, a year later you are hitting an old lady on the head with a baton because she is one of Them. It is difficult for an individual to take a stance and say, no this is wrong, but as a group you can. So take care, be watchful, educate yourselves about where the real power lines are being drawn, and talk to each other and listen to the protestors. Don't dehumanize them. As a group, you need to decide where to draw the line, otherwise you will find yourselves in the position of enemies of the people, rather than the protectors of people. Think, take notice and be prepared. Please - from a concerned citizen.

  7. @ justamug.

    Mercy spares passengers sound of the torturous words 'Brake, cliff ahead!' once the 60 mph bus is within 100ft of the precipice.

  8. No I cannot remember where I read/heard that tasers would only be used instead of guns, it has been a good few years since you got them. Maybe it was a lying politician.

    Law abiding citizens like Tomlinson and Demezzes you mean?

    And what do you mean CS and tasers are safe, CS can blind and tasers can kill. Not likely I know but the company that makes tasers sells them as "less lethal" products not Non lethal.

  9. ...ensuring that the march followed it's prescribed route...
    Does the Thinking Police think he knows how to use an apostrophe?