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Weds 1st April: G20 protests - discussion, reaction and chat

Discussion in 'protest, direct action and demos' started by editor, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. DaveCinzano


    Some brief notes regarding the suggestion that the levels of violence directed at protesters were in any way due to 'lack of training' or 'inexperience' on the part of officers on the frontline:

    i. The officer suspended in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson is a member of the Territorial Support Group. The officer suspended in relation to the alleged assault on Nicola Fisher (and another assault) is also a member of the TSG, and a sergeant. Both these TSG officers had concealed their shoulder numbers.

    ii. The TSG is a unit specifically tasked with public order policing. In the Met's own words:
    iii. Also heavily present at some of the most violent incidents were members of the Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT). FIT officers are exponents of 'harassment policing', which involves following, photographing, videoing and identifying political activists and others, on demonstrations, at home and at work. FIT officers seem to pride themselves on knowing the 'players'.

    At the assault on Ian Tomlinson, at least five FIT officers were in the immediate vicinity, including PCs Alan Palfrey and Steve Discombe, both extremely experienced officers and well-known to activists in London.

    After Tomlinson was put to the ground by the now-suspended TSG officer, one FIT officer came over to him and either prodded him with his foot or kicked him.

    No FIT officers came forward to make a statement to the IPCC until after the 'American tourist' video was released - any statements were only forthcoming after the credibility of the original police narrative was in tatters.

    In addition the 'Fisher hitter' TSG sergeant is also a former FIT officer.

    iv. City of London Police deployed dogs in a most violent fashion, using them not to clear areas but instead to attack non-violent individuals.

    The CoL Police itself notes that:
    v. Bronze Commander Chief Superintendent Alex Robertson (CoL) - with full operational control for the policing of G20 - was on the ground at Cornhill during the assault on Ian Tomlinson.

    CS Robertson's biography states that he has "over 29 years police service" and describes him as "an experienced public order and firearms incident commander."


    So, notwithstanding that many police officers deployed during the G20 protests were no doubt undertrained, lacking experience in such situations, and even scared, such excuses cannot reasonably be applied to the most serious incident of Operation Glencoe - the death of Ian Tomlinson.

    Let's tot up who was present at the fatal Tomlinson assault:

    • Senior commander on the ground
    • Protest specialists of the FIT
    • Intensively public order-trained dog handlers
    • Riot-ready volunteers of the TSG

    So does that make it sound like an unfortunate accident, a tragedy, or the inevitable consequence of the ingredients thrown in the mix?
  2. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    DaveC -

    You've forwarded that posting to the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee? :D
  3. _float_

    _float_ New Member

    I've only had a glance but I was under the impression that the "inexperience" part of what the committee said related to not letting people out of cordons. Also the committee specifically didn't look into Ian Tomlinson's death as this is under investigation. I'll have another read around and see if this is correct.

    Edit 1: Here's the full report:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/418/41802.htm (html)
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhaff/418/418.pdf (pdf)

    Edit 2: Actually 'lack of training' and 'inexperience' seems like a catch-all which is mentioned alongside every aspect of the event, and seems IIRC to be ceasing on a comment by Bob Broadhurst rather than any actual in-depth knowledge or study of specifics. As much as some of these comments are welcome, I can't help get the impression that some MPs (ie Vaz) like to pump up their egos by thinking they are 'overnight experts'. For example - who decided to start dribbling on about tazers, which has no relevance to public order events like these?
  4. DaveCinzano


    The report was released under embargo on Friday, but is now available online for all. The "untrained and inexperienced" line comes from the opening summary on page 2:
    Further reference to 'lack of training' or 'inexperience' as an issue:
    • Police preventing journalists from carrying out their work (pp8-9 & 28)
    • The talking up of violence in police statements to the media before the G20 protests and failure to communicate directly with protesters (pp12-3 & 29)
    • Officers being taught that "force can be acceptable in all situations, providing it is subsequently justifiable" (p21)
    • The suitability or otherwise of "close containment tactics" (ie kettling) and "over reliance" on s14 POA "[g]iven the inexperience of some of the officers on front-line duty" (p22 & 32-3)
    • The conclusion (p25 & pp32-3), which states:
    Clearly the Committee is describing not just specific instances where it considers a lack of training and inexperience to be a factor (such as in media relations), but also in the general sense of putting "untrained, inexperienced officers on the front-line of a public protest".

    Those are the Committee's own words, and not limited to the issue of kettling.

    The Committee does not address the Tomlinson death in any depth, nor the Nicola Fisher assault, only in brief, with passing mention. The report explicitly states at para54 that "[w]e do not pass comment on the cases of Nicola Fisher and Ian Tomlinson."

    But I find it hard to believe that the Committee, whilst choosing not to directly analyse the specifics of those and other instances under investigation by the IPCC, did not consider them as part of the wider picture of Operation Glencoe. Indeed, were it not for the death of Ian Tomlinson then the Committee would not have undertaken this report in the way that it has.
  5. Kaka Tim

    Kaka Tim Crush the Saboteurs!

    It really pisses me off that the bbc keep referring to the g20 'riots' - there was no fucking riot. To use of that term implies a large angry mob kicking off and therefore indirecetly justifies the police violence.

    Sigh - whos got the bbc complaints link?
  6. xes

    xes F.O.A.D

    Nice one DaveCinzano, way to keep it balanced :cool:

    Just goes to show, the police force and the goverment are nothing but a bunch of fucking liars and wrigglers.
  7. DaveCinzano


  8. winjer

    winjer holocene death beat

  9. david dissadent

    david dissadent New Member

    Apparently all level 3 trained officers were pulled out of the line when the riot kit went on. It was all level 2 and level 1.
  10. moon23

    moon23 Well-Known Member

    On some of the videos I saw you could clearly see the line of command in action before attempts to close in the kettle lines and push back protesters with force. Seems the usual line of blaming individuals rather than the strategy that places them in these situations
  11. DaveCinzano


  12. ymu

    ymu Niall Ferguson's deep-cover sock-puppet

    Bloody hell!

    Newsnight just now, Keith Vaz (Chair of the HASC) with Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones. Short film about a TSG assault allegation, Brian Paddick talking about how highly trained they were. Then Keith Vaz says "we (the committee) weren't told about them. We were told they were all inexperienced officers on the front-line. Noone told us about this TSG." The rest of the panel go "huh?!" and he says "we can only rule on evidence we're given".

    Fuck's sake!

    Gonna write to Jenny Jones to make sure she follows up on this. They came back to it at the end, and Vaz did state again that they only had the evidence that they were given, but that the enquiries were still ongoing ...
  13. david dissadent

    david dissadent New Member

    Bleeding hell.
  14. partyzan

    partyzan New Member

    I disagree there was a riot - a police riot!
  15. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    What is all this "training" bollocks? It's just another attempt to portray deliberate tactics as mistakes, that's what it is. Even if there was no TSG it would still be a bit of a fucking coincidence if several hundred "untrained" officers decided to act in exactly the same way i.e. hit people a lot for doing nothing.
  16. partyzan

    partyzan New Member

    ...absolutely fucking outstanding - the report ain't worth the paper its printed on, except to confirm that leaving the responsibility of enquiries such as this in the hands of politicians is nothing short of pointless as they either have a complete lack of understanding of the issues involved, or they just want to give the Police an easy ride of it.

    From my reading of the report, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but the historical context of policing political demonstrations in the city, and also the actions of the Met when deployed to other parts of the country for similar operations wasn't addressed in the slightest - well apart from drawing parallels with Mayday 2001, but anyone with any knowledge of the policing of political protest in the capital will be well aware of the level of brutality that the Met has always been capable of meting out to protestors.
  17. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    Keith Vaz is a big cunt generally mind. I wouldn't have expected more.
  18. Bernie Gunther

    Bernie Gunther Fundamentalist Druid

    It does sound like a totally bizarre way of creating a whitewash. 'We were investigating whether the Met behaved like violent thugs, but nobody told us about the violent thugs dept. of the Met, so we didn't investigate them at all'
  19. two sheds

    two sheds not as daft as i look

    Course not, there's no violent thugs in the police so they obviously weren't there. :)
  20. ymu

    ymu Niall Ferguson's deep-cover sock-puppet

    Whitewash via the committee is likely, but I don't think Vaz was a knowing part of it - he seemed genuinely pathetic, and he didn't need to make the point at all. Noone turned to him and said "so this inexperienced officers thing is bollocks isn't it". He seemed genuinely surprised that there were specialist public order police and that they had been on the ground at G20. Paddick had already given him the get-out clauses he needed by saying TSG had descended into a gang mentality same as SPG did before them.

    I may be misremembering it, but what he said was really bizarre - like an actual moment of honesty from a politician unintentionally revealing how utterly stupid, lazy and complacent they really are. Anyone with a better connection than me want to look it up on iPlayer to check my impression?
  21. winjer

    winjer holocene death beat

    Vaz@23:20 "But what we were told in evidence, that the people on the frontline were actually inexperienced and untrained officers, we were not told in our evidence something that Brian [Paddick] has just told me as we were going on this programme, that actually the Territorial Support Group are usually in the frontline as far as these protests are concerned [...] It may be pretty obvious, but we can only produce reports on the basis of the evidence that we have received"

  22. two sheds

    two sheds not as daft as i look

    In which case, you'd think it would be a serious matter to mislead MPs who are making a Parliamentary Report.
  23. TopCat

    TopCat Gone away, no forwarding address

    How thick and out of touch are the MP's?
  24. xes

    xes F.O.A.D

    very, and very?
  25. DaveCinzano


    Transcript of studio discussion

    • EM = Emily Maitlis, Newsnight anchor and host of discussion
    • BP = Brian Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, and LibDem candidate for London Mayor
    • JJ = Jenny Jones MLA, Green Party member of the Metropolitan Police Authority
    • KV = Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee

    EM: Now joining me in the studio Brian Paddick, a former deputy assistant commissioner in the Met; Jenny Jones, who's a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority; the MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which also recently released a report into G20 policing, welcome to all, thanks for coming.

    Brian Paddick, you were in charge of south east Territorial Support Group in your time, does what you've heard here this evening surprise you?

    BP: Well, it's a great concern of mine because it appears to be history repeating itself. The Special Patrol Group, the predecessor of the Territorial Support Group, which was disbanded when Blair Peach was killed in a demonstration in 1979, started out as a very professional outfit, they were the elite of the Metropolitan Police, and gradually the gang mentality took over, and in the end they had to be disbanded.

    What I am very concerned about is the Territorial Support Group - again, the elite, um, took very great pride in their appearance, their fitness - could be showing signs of going the same way as the Special Patrol Group.

    EM: But you think you know it wasn't like this under your command? How well did you know it?

    BP: It certainly wasn't like that under my command, and I went out with the officers, on patrol, and it was a very different situation in those days. But the alarming thing is, one of the things that young man said, about being hit with the hat, one of the traditional TSG punishments amongst officers is a 'hatting', which is to hit a fellow officer with hats. So that story has a very sinister ring of truth about it.

    EM: Jenny Jones, this didn't just happen overnight, this doesn't even reflect what happened in the G20...

    JJ: I think that probably there is a much wider problem, I think the TSG has deep problems about the sort of robust policing they are trained for. But I think also, I've heard senior officers for example, say things like, they 'differentiate between things like innocent people and protesters', as if a protester cannot be an innocent person; now to me that suggests there is a deep thought process, and they can't understand the real function of protest, and that it can be utterly peaceful.

    EM: Keith Vaz, isn't it extraordinary that we've had a whole report on the G20 and the policing of it, and barely a mention of this controversial group?

    KV: Well, I'm very disappointed with what I've just seen on your programme. The fact is I think this is a very strong report, it's very critical of certain aspects of what the police did during G20, and it very much echoes what we said in our select committee report a week ago.

    But what we were told in evidence, that the people on the frontline were inexperienced and untrained officers, we were not told in our evidence, something that Brian has just told me, as we were going on this programme, that actually the Territorial Support Group are usually in the frontline as far as these protests are concerned...

    EM: ...But that was pretty obvious, that was pretty obvious from the footage we've seen in the last few months, why would you put inexperienced officers on the frontline?

    KV: Well... It may be pretty obvious, but we can only produce reports on the basis of the evidence that we have received, and certainly the evidence that came to us, the evidence that was given to us in this inquiry, was that the people on the frontline were untrained and inexperienced, and basically that's why we concluded that the police were pretty lucky in this instance...

    BP: ...The worrying point, Emily, is that the most senior, the most serious complaints that have been made, for example the ones regarding Ian Tomlinson, all involve Territorial Support Group officers, not the young inexperienced, untrained officers that the senior officers who gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee say were to blame for losing control during that situation.

    In my experience it is the experienced Territorial Support Group officers who are more likely to overstep the mark rather than beat officers who are drafted into that situation.

    EM: I mean, you talk about overstepping the mark, look at that case study: A young man, picked up off the street, called a 'fucking Paki', slapped around... The police have recognised that this is a legitimate complaint...

    KV: They have, and they should, it is totally unacceptable behaviour, even though in certain circumstances what the police do in terms of tactics they say is within their rulebook, it's totally unacceptable behaviour for any individual to be beaten, or...

    EM: ...But why then, 137 outstanding complaints, we're talking about one in three officers.

    KV: ...Well there shouldn't be, and one of the problems that I think we've had is what G20 has spawned, quite rightly, is a number of complaints that cannot be dealt with in the timeframe, that's why one of the recommendations we put forward, is that additional resources have to be given to the IPCC in order to be able to deal with these complaints. At the moment a third of the entire caseload of the IPCC is actually complaints against officers who were participating in the G20 protest.

    EM: Jenny Jones, it does seem extraordinary that at this point we're just talking about the process to handle complaints. Do we actually need the Territorial Support Group?

    JJ: Well, as a Green I'd like to say 'no, we don't need them', but in fact of course I think there will be times when you need that sort of very strong policing, because there are extreme incidents, but I think they are used too frequently, I think that the officers themselves are not rotated enough so they get out of what Brian calls this 'gang culture', and I think there could be better training about civil liberties. They're clearly not doing their job properly.

    BP: Let's put some balance in here though, because these are allegations, they're being investigated, these officers have not been convicted of any wrongdoing, and we have the word of one person, at the moment, who has made this complaint about their treatment at the hands of the Territorial Support Group, that investigation has not concluded yet.

    The second thing to say is what Chris Allison said, which is Territorial Support Group officers quite often are put in the frontline, and so you would expect to some extent them to have more complaints, perhaps, than other officers who are not put into those very stressful situations.

    EM: Alright, but let me put you back as, in charge, if you like... These are allegations and you have to deal, let's imagine, with those allegations. What would you do now, from inside the Met? I mean a complete reshuffle, a complete retrain? Would you disperse them so there isn't an elite force as such?

    BP: Well, you need to have a highly mobile force ready to deal with either a spontaneous outbreak of disorder or to deal with, we're on the anniversary of the seventh of July bombings, the Territorial Support Group was an extremely useful resource in that sort of situation.

    But what you've got to make sure is that there's rotation of those officers on a regular basis so that these cliques do not develop, that they don't become a law unto themselves, which is the problem we had with the Special Patrol Group before.

    EM: Keith Vaz, I come back to my previous point, neither in the report today nor in your report from the Home Affairs Select Committee did we hear any mention of the problems or the scale of the complaints against this force. Don't you think that's a pretty bad mess?

    KV: It is a pretty bad mess, but you can only produce reports on the basis of evidence that has been given to you, and if a Select Committee is given evidence about the type of officers who were on duty during protests of this kind, we can only conclude on the evidence that we've got.

    But don't forget, Denis O' Connor's report is an interim report in any event, this was brought out relatively quickly, in order to ensure that some of the main points were dealt with.

    But we will certainly return to this subject as a result of the consultations that we will have following the publication of this report. This isn't the end of it, I think the debate about policing with consent of major events of this kind, which, frankly, this report very helpfully talks about, is something that we have to return to...

    EM: Okay...

    KV: What the G20 gives us is the opportunity to have that debate with the public.

    EM: Jenny Jones, you've had that pledge here from Keith Vaz tonight, from the MPA's perspective, what would you actually like to see in concrete terms?

    JJ: Well, I think we have seen the start of a public debate which has not happened before, over many years I have complained about police tactics and mostly I've been ignored on the Police Authority, because people just haven't believed them, we are now in a different era, when we've seen some very bad behaviour, the police, I think have got to change.

    EM: Thank you very much indeed, thanks for joining me.
  26. DaveCinzano


    That's all from the studio discussion on Newsnight last night (7/7/9) following on from a report into the Territorial Support Group by Richard Watson.

    You can listen to the audio from both the report and the discussion here.

    Audio of the studio discussion begins at around 6min45s.
  27. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    How do people get to be witnesses?

    two ordinary protestors only, one of whom, Chris Abbott is a deputy director of a think-tank, had never been to a protest or been kettled before and only went there at 6pm after work, the other, Nicola Fisher, was on her second protest in 20 years and wasn't present during the main protest, only at the Tomlinson memorial the next day. Of course the views of the inexperienced should be heard, but is it any wonder the report is flawed with such an obvious issue as the TSG ignored if those are the only protestors they question?

    There are at least a couple of people on this thread that could have presented much, much more informed evidence. Whether they'd be prepared to I don't know, but surely someone with proper experience of public order policing should have been questioned?

  28. DaveCinzano


    That's the oral evidence heard before the Committee.

    There were also three memoranda of written evidence (from David Howarth MP, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and Defend Peaceful Protest), as well as seven written witness statements (Appendix 2 section 1) and fifteen witness statements gleaned from various public domain sources (section 2).

    (I'm not disagreeing with you, btw.)
  29. partyzan

    partyzan New Member

    ...but surely we can all see the direction this whole facade is heading, namely the Met at worst get off with a slap on the wrist. There's no way we're going to see an ounce of justice out of this. Now that the HAC report has been published it'll all be forgotten about....sorry to sound defeatist but unfortunately that's the reality of the situation...

    Oh btw anyone going down to the IPCC on Friday afternoon?
  30. DaveCinzano


    This is why we must keep this out in the open.

    Those who made the decisions that created this situation, those that gave the orders, those that briefed the media and those who threw the physical blows - all of them can be identified.

    Whether it's Bob Broadhurst swinging his big Gold Commander dick around, or Alex Robertson on the ground, ordering his troops to get fruity; or Steve Discombe and Alan Palfrey digging Ian Tomlinson in the ribs as he lies on the ground, winded, whilst they act out their Chicago 68 fantasies.

    Whether it's figuring out exactly who the 'Fisher hitter' TSG sergeant is, or who struck the fatal blow on Ian Tomlinson, there is a job for us all.

    Those culpable, the guilty parties, they must be brought to justice, out in the open. Their children and neighbours and friends must know how daddy is a killer, a liar, a bully.

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