Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Senior Met Officer Calls for End to 'Aggressive' Policing of Public Demonstrations

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Senior Met Officer Calls for End to 'Aggressive' Policing of Public Demonstrations

Article excerpt


ONE of the Met's most senior officers is to call for sweeping changes to its policing of demonstrations in a potentially damaging rebuff to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

The officer, who is a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers, will issue the call for reform next week in a joint submission with colleagues from across Britain to an official review of public order policing.

Early details of the document urge an end to the allegedly overly aggressive and "faux-US style" tactics the Met adopts when controlling demonstrators.

But the Standard can reveal today that the leading Met officer, who to achieve Acpo membership must hold the rank of Commander or above, is aiming for a fundamental change of approach and has contributed to proposals for an alternative strategy.

The submission -- being co-ordinated by former Met Commander David Gilbertson -- will also raise concerns that some officers' confrontational tactics at the G20 demonstrations are being replicated in day to day to policing.

The document, to be sent to the Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Denis O'Connor, will argue that this is damaging the Met's ability to win public confidence and suggest that widespread cultural change is needed within the force to improve its effectiveness.

The disclosure of unease at such a senior level in the Met about the force's strategy will present a further challenge to Sir Paul, who is already facing questions about his handling of the G20 protests and the subsequent allegations of police brutality and the failure of some officers to display their identification numbers.

Critics claim that Sir Paul, who pledged to improve the Met's reputation after the early departure of his predecessor Sir Ian Blair last year, has failed to offer sufficiently strong leadership or to address concerns that have emerged after the G20 protests.

Sir Paul, who will be questioned by MPs on the Commons home affairs select committee next week, was expected to face further scrutiny today during an appearance at an event in Islington to raise awareness of violence against women. …

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