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.
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.