Saturday, April 18, 2009

City protest and the police

The Metropolitan Police are under some pressure after the City protests in which Ian Tomlinson died and Nicola Fisher was struck by a sergeant. We have to have a balanced view of this. The City demonstration included hardcore anarchists, some of whom had come from the continent, who wanted a riot and did cause severe damage to one business premises. The police had to contain them amid the usual abuse and nastiness and by and large they did a decent job. Unfortunately 'by and large' doesn't cut it in the case of Ian Tomlinson. No-one has tried to defend the officer involved there and as the second post-mortem has shown death by internal bleed he may well end up in the dock for manslaughter. Nicola Fisher was behaving pretty badly, but she did not deserve to be whacked with a baton. What is worrying in both cases was police wearing balaclavas and covering up their IDs. What is even more worrying is that all of this has come out from digital filming from the public and that police statements were initially misleading. No, they were lies. This speaks to institutional failures, not a small number of hotheads. So, now we have a number of complaints that are being investigated by the IPCC and which will probably turn into trials. A government inspector is heading an enquiry into the whole affair. This mess further distances the police from the public which is not good for either.

The new Commissioner really needs to get a grip.

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