25 Nov 2010

Police warn of further protests

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police says the “game had changed” after chaotic scenes punctuated this week’s student protests over higher tuition fees.

Sir Paul Stephenson, Britain’s most senior police officer, said that the way police control protests would have to change after admitting that current tactics were not working as efficiently as before.

He told the Metropolitian Police Authority: “the game has changed.”

Sir Paul’s comment’s came as Downing Street intimated that a Commons vote on the proposals to raise tuition fees would be held in the next month.

The Commissioner told the MPA that officers had failed to correctly assess the mood of protesters before the violence at the Conservative Party HQ two weeks ago.

Police warn of further protests (Reuters)

However, he said they did not make that mistake at yesterday’s student protests in London and across the UK, which saw 35 people arrested and seven police officers injured.

Scotland Yard deployed more than 800 officers, almost four times as many as on November 10.

Sir Paul said in recent years that the Met had been reducing the numbers of officers and other resources deployed to tackle demonstrations.

He said an internal review of what went wrong on November 10 showed that many more people turned up than the police had expected.

And he said officers were caught out after a long period of peaceful student demonstrations and their good relationship with organisers.