Police ‘must change the way they control protests’

Author: By Chris Greenwood, Press Association

Senior officers must review public order training, warn participants of their
plans and allow vulnerable people to leave, the Independent Police
Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

The call was made as the watchdog released its findings from an inquiry
launched after a woman claimed she was assaulted during G20 demonstrations.

The 23-year-old woman said she was left with bruising on her arms and legs and
heavy intimate bleeding after being forced to leave the Climate Camp in
Bishopsgate.

Officials found officers used their shields to try and move the crowd
backwards, a tactic which has not been approved nationally by senior
officers.

The incident took place during the Climate Camp, a spontaneous demonstration a
short distance from the Bank of England, on 1 April.

IPCC officials concluded the woman was forcibly pushed back by an officer
using a “short shield”, a tactic developed by the Metropolitan Police.

They also found the woman was not allowed to leave the area of Bishopsgate for
up to five hours, despite her heavy bleeding.

The woman told investigators her doctor said the bleeding may have been caused
by a miscarriage, but she was not aware she may have been pregnant. Medical
staff were unable to confirm if the woman had been pregnant.

Deborah Glass, of the IPCC, said: “While this young woman’s alleged injuries
were more serious than most, her experience appears to have been typical of
many peaceful protesters on 1 April.

“She was caught up in what appears to have been a frightening experience over
which she had little or no control.

“Like many others that day, she says she had no prior warning of the police
intention to use force in containing the crowd, and no prior warning of a
containment tactic that prevented her leaving.”

Six inquiries were launched after complaints of police brutality during two
days of clashes during the meeting of world leaders in London.

The operation also sparked a series of high-profile inquiries into police
tactics, including the practice of penning in protesters for long periods.

Earlier this week, a file of evidence on the death of Ian Tomlinson was passed
from IPCC investigators to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

They must now decide if a Metropolitan Police constable caught on camera
hitting the newspaper seller and pushing him to the ground should be
prosecuted.

The officer, a member of the force’s territorial support group, has been
interviewed under caution on suspicion of manslaughter.

The precise events of the last minutes of Mr Tomlinson’s life remain unclear
after two pathologists disagreed over what caused him to die.

His widow called on the CPS to let a jury decide what role, if any, the
officer played in his death.

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