Tuesday, 8 November 2011

alarmist story by BBC about plastic bullets

The BBC has put out a rather sensationalist story about the the upcoming student demo in London on Nov 9th,  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15625213) using the headline;

'London tuition fees protest: Rubber bullets 'available'

In it they state the Metropolitan Police are prepared to use rubber bullets (or baton rounds) in 'cases of "extreme" disorder' at tomorrow's demo, and then they interview a Green party member of the Greater London Assembly who is appalled and denounces such a plan. This seems to me a bit of a non-story. The Metropolitan Police (and other regional forces) have had officers who are trained in the use of baton rounds for at least the last 30 years, and it would seem likely that they always have such officers on stand by to use in emergencies if ever needed. It doesn't mean that they will be deployed specifically on tomorrow's demo, or that they are likely to be used.

Baton rounds have not so far being used on the Mainland UK in public order situations (they are used quite frequently in Northern Ireland though). As far as I am aware, the closest that the Police in England have come to using such weapons was during the 1985 Broadwater farm riot in Tottenham, London, when officers with baton rounds were deployed with orders to fire if necesary, because a Police officer (PC Keith Blakelock) had been killed during the disturbances. However, thankfully they did not end up opening fire, as the officers deployed did not consider it necessary.

Therefore, while I personally think that the chances of the Police using baton rounds tomorrow against unarmed student protestors are minimal to non-existent ( I sincerely hope I am not proved wrong!), I don't think stories like this are particularly helpful, as such rhetoric merely raises the stakes, decreases trust between the two sides, and makes collective disorder more, not less likely.

No comments:

Post a Comment