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Peter Brookes from the Times 9 April 2009

In the Times today this is further reporting on the policing of the G20 protests last week, in light of the new footage that is emerging of just what happened to Ian Tomlinson.

Tom Brake the Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington was there as an independent parliamentary observer. Having already read his note on Facebook and seen his pictures to see his thoughts being brought into the mainstream media was a welcome addition.

Tom himself was detained within the ‘kettle’ and saw for himself that the detention of the peaceful with those in minority who were out to cause trouble ended turning ugly.

“‘Kettling’ is a tactic that should come under review. At the first sign of difficulty, the police present a wall of riot shields and batons around protesters — the peaceful alongside the problematic — and slowly squeeze them into a tighter space. People are allowed in, but absolutely no one is allowed to leave.

“Slowly the number of inmates increases. No access to food. No water. Young trapped with the old. Journalists trapped with anarchists. People, like an elderly couple I spoke to, who simply did not want to be there at all.

“It is not surprising that under such conditions an otherwise overwhelmingly relaxed and peaceful crowd can become agitated, then angry, and then violent. The tactic proved misguided and counter-productive. It served to alienate a whole mass of peaceful protesters.”

It may be right tactic to deal with the violent in the mob, indeed as a football fan I have often been effectively in a moving kettle being shepherded away from an away ground into my means of transportation. But there is a difference from being moved along and being penned in, as journalists, MPs and friends of people who ended up needing hospital treatment were on that day.

If the police lose their sense of proportion, fairness and justice as well as the means to control a situation. If their actions exacerbate and pour oil on the coals of what they were trying to snuff out then there clearly needs to be a rethink. If innocent people (and today’s Times indicated multiple) were without provocation hit from behind by baton wielding men in uniforms, we need to do something.

We don’t accept thugs on our streets. Just because they have Her Majesty’s crest on their gang’s uniform or colours they should not be treated any differently.

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