Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chocolate and Hugs

More musings on riot policing.

I just want people to imagine for a second what it would be like to be a public order (riot) officer, using the G20 circumstances.

You know that a number of your colleagues have been injured. The persons responsible have simply melted away back into the crowd. You know that somewhere in the crowd in front of you is a person wishing to seriously injure you, but you have no idea what they look like and you know they will give you no warning when they try to.

Exactly how do you feel? How do you interact with the people coming near you?

I see Mr new Commisioner whatsisname has ordered a review into public order tactics. Well part of me is glad of that. The public order training I've had is heavily geared towards full riots, poll tax style. There doesn't seem to be an inbetween option, so if this review can come up with something then maybe it'll be for the good. I've heard various ideas from the troops as to what the end result might be though. The consensus from the ground is that we should offer hot chocolate and hugs in future disorder situations.

On a more realistic note I reckon it's time to introduce (like everyone else in Europe) water cannon. It's more image friendly- no headline pictures of sticks swinging and blooded people- and appears to be quite effective. I have no idea why we don't have it. I think it's because of top level paranoia that we don't want to appear too militaristic. But to me it seems a lesser use of force- one bowser with a fire hose versus a line of 16 ugly mugs wielding batons.

I wonder what will happen with those two TSG guys. Not that there was ever a place for getting away with anything but in modern times any place in public with near every person with a video recording phone do something out of line, you know it is near inevitable someone will have recorded it, and won't be saying no to a nice sum from a newspaper or two.

I've done a couple of things public ordery since G20 and the level of paranoia from top brass is laughable. Actually, from some. On one of them the briefing was by a Chief Inspector with all the charisma of a flannel, and said all the right buzzwords, and took extra time to remind us about the current political situation.

A second Chief Inspector on another day was clearly less career minded and was more forthright in his instuction. He reminded us that was never a problem in the use of force on two conditions, namely that it was justified and recorded (in some kind of notes). There may have been a colourful adjective or two inserted.....