The October 94 demonstration against the Criminal Justice (then) Bill saw riot-trained police and mounted police used against protestors in an attempt to clear Hyde Park and Park Lane in London. Training is to be changed after Commander Kendrick found that there was a "cultural abhorrence" by riot-equipped police to withdraw when ordered. At one stage of the confrontation senior officers ordered the withdrawal of officers with shields, riot helmets and batons and for them to be replaced with "ordinary beat officers in the hope that this would reduce hostility to the police":
"Many kitted officers, however, seemed reluctant to withdraw. When withdrawal began the crowd became more vociferous and there was an increased missile attack. Some of the serials responded by advancing in an un-coordinated manner to the crowd while others were withdrawing."
Another problem to be addressed is Commander Kendrick's finding that during the confrontation there was a "seemingly sub- conscious cultural indifference to evidence gathering and successful prosecution during the event itself."
Two new-style command training courses have been introduced - the Pre-Planned Public Order course and the Spontaneous Disorder course (which takes account of all major disorders over the past 15 years).
Another change is the introduction of the Public Order Intelligence System to gather information on "potential troublemakers". Teams of 12 specially trained officers will form a Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) who, operating in uniform, will seek to build a "rapport" with "street activists" so that people "likely to provoke disorder can be identified early in an event". Prior to an "event" assessments are provided by the Special Branch together with reports on "areas of tension". Assistant Commissioner Tony Speed said in July that the 1994 Urban Trends report indicated that "the conditions which prevailed in the early 1980s, which were generally blamed for widespread urban disorder, remain". He singled out for mention the London Boroughs of Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Newham and Tower Hamlets.
The Metropolitan Police have also developed a new method for filming demonstrators. In the past it has proved difficult to capture people on film from behind a riot shield. Now the "Virtual Vision" hi-tech video camera allows cameramen from SO3 Public Order Branch to film by use of a tiny screen which projects the image into the retina of the eye. Underneath the now familiar riot helmet the officer wears what looks like a pair of dark sunglasses while the camera can be pointed in any direction.
Alan Lodge / Tash: ... email@example.com