Untested 'kettling' awaits UK marchers

22/03/2011 15:43

British police are planning to use a new untested kettling tactic in a bid to control the crowd in upcoming Trades Union Congress (TUC) massive anti-cuts protests.

The TUC protest rallies scheduled for March 26 are expected to attract over 100,000 people from across the UK including trade unionists, public servants, teachers, doctors, students, activists against tax dodging and even off-duty police officers.

Chairman of Police Federation Ian McKeever has warned that many police officers who are assigned to patrol the protest marches are feeling a lot of sympathy with protesters as they are faced with thousands of redundancies and £500 million in pay cuts.

The Metropolitan Police were heavily criticized during last year's student protests, when they kettled thousands of students as young as 11 for several hours, even preventing them from using toilets.

A London top cop says the Met are considering using a new kettling tactic, which has never ever been tested yet.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said in the Met's new technique, officers answer to a "containment manager" who chooses choke points for kettling demonstrators.

Police haven't had a chance to try it out at other protests as the events had remained largely peaceful, she said.

The police said they were expecting a peaceful protest on Saturday but were planning for "a whole range of eventualities.”

“The broader public expects us to be in a position to respond robustly to protect the safety of other people who might choose to be in London on that day and to protect our iconic sites,” added the Assistant Commissioner.

“We see some early intelligence that some troublemakers, for want of a better word, may be seeking to disrupt the march," she said.

Owens told MPs earlier this month that kettling at past demonstrations had gone on longer than necessary and the force was trying to speed up the process, but would also ship in portable toilets and drinking water for those detained.

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