Independent panel on protests and demonstrations meets

6 comments

protest

The independent panel set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner to scrutinise the policing of protests and demonstrations has met for the first time.

Tony Lloyd has convened the panel to provide strategic input on how police manage major demonstrations, as well as observing and advising during live incidents.

The panel is chaired by Martin Miller from the Diocese of Manchester. Martin also had a leading role in the Hope Not Hate campaign, which takes a stand against extremist organisations like the British National Party and English Defence League.

Martin said: “We’ve had a productive first meeting where we’ve sorted out how the panel is going to work. Now we’re all keen to get down to business and are looking forward to addressing this important issue with vigour.”

The other panellists are:

  • Atiha Chaudry, an equalities and diversity specialist and magistrate
  • Matthew Colledge, former leader of Trafford Council and a Vice Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Diane Curry OBE, Partners of Prisoners Chief Executive and independent member of the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Panel
  • Davine Forde, a youth and community organisation manager who is currently Project Coordinator at Manchester charity Reclaim
  • Alan Manning, former TUC Regional Secretary
  • Mohammed Sultan, a retired police inspector with more than 30 years’ policing experience
  • Janine Watson, who has 30 years’ experience in communications and community engagement in Greater Manchester local authorities and media organisations, and is currently Assistant Chief Executive at Stockport Council

Tony added: “I’m very grateful that all of the panellists are willing to give up their time. They come with a vast range of experience and expertise and I have no doubt they will make a valuable contribution in this important area. I am a strong supporter of the right to demonstrate and believe protest to be an invaluable part of our democratic heritage.

“Police are there to facilitate peaceful protest, but it is often a complex area as conflicting rights can present real challenges to the policing of demonstrations. Having a scrutiny body in place that can advise, challenge and recommend is a major step forward, which both I and the Chief Constable welcome.” 

At the panel’s first meeting this week, the chair was selected, terms of reference agreed and an initial work programme drawn up.

The panel will reconvene next week to get an overview of how police approach protests and demonstrations with examples of previous incidents. They will also be given a detailed briefing on the ongoing Barton Moss operation.

6 comments

Richard Ford

I note with some regret but not with any great surprise that the panel are not represented by those very people who are directly effected by the policing of peaceful protests, the protestors themselves.

Given the recent, and continuing, protesting against the drilling/fracking site at Barton Moss, and given the wealth of photographic and video evidence of the obviously heavy handed policing there, would it not have been politic for the group to have contained at least one person who could be “representative” of, and speak with some authority on, those who are protesting at the site.

The problem is of course that as soon as a complaint is made about a police officer’s conduct then the standard line that is trotted out is “we cannot comment upon individual cases especially if they are under investigation”. Which is a very good shield to hide behind but does nothing for the abuse that has taken place and is currently still taking place.

You have for example blatant, recorded, instances of identified police officers who have gone to the site wearing SAP gloves, which are gloves weighted with steel or lead shot, and are used as an offensive weapon in hand to hand combat. Even when this was pointed out to senior officers on duty at the site at the time they ignored it. Had such weapons been used or displayed by protestors they would have been arrested and charged with possession of an offensive weapon. This is just one of the myriad instances that have occurred during this operation, and protestors (including many local people) have become extremely upset and angry at the way police officers are allowed to hurt, harass and frankly terrorise people with a right to peaceful protest.

So to sum up, people already do not trust your panel to come up with anything that is truthful, or helpful or relevant, and you are not helping that by excluding them from the process.

Regards
Richard Ford

graham Jones

so who is there to speak up for the protestors -no one another whitewash to justify the over policing by gmp and their justification of heavy handed tactics by bully boys against people legitimately protesting against something they dont want

webadmin

Hi Richard. The panel is not a single-issue one. Although they will be considering the issues at Barton Moss their remit is much wider. The panellists bring with them a wealth of experience, with several having considerable experience of protests and demonstrations. On this issue of police conduct at Barton Moss, or indeed anywhere else, is that officers are expected to behave properly and if they do not then the appropriate disciplinary action should be taken. They aren’t there to take sides, but rather are there to uphold the law, keep the peace and facilitate sometimes competing rights – that is the rights of people to peacefully protest and the rights of local residents and businesses to go about their usual business. If anyone has a complaint about police officer conduct, they should complain to GMP, which is a straightforward process on their website

webadmin

Thanks Graham, as made clear in the previous comment to Richard, this panel comprises a wide range of people, many of whom have significant experience (as does Tony Lloyd himself) of participation in, and organisation of, protests and demonstrations. The panel is not a police panel, it reports to Tony.

Dave Haslam

When will the panel reconvene? This week? Will the minutes be published? How do members of the public make representations to this panel and what powers does this panel have?

webadmin

Yes, the panel has met for the second time. Minutes, terms of reference and contact details will be published on the website shortly.

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