An independent panel to examine major protests and demonstrations in Greater Manchester has been set up by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The panel will provide strategic advice on how police manage major demonstrations, as well as being actively involved in police operations during live events.
Members have been drawn from across Greater Manchester’s diverse communities, and bring with them a vast range of experience including protest and trade union activism, politics, policing, community relations, media and youth engagement.
The first meeting will take place this week. As well as discussing the role and remit of the panel, members will discuss recent major demonstrations in Greater Manchester including the ongoing protest at Barton Moss.
Tony has set up the panel with the full support of Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy. GMP will provide information to the panel on its procedures on policing protests, and will involve members in the planning stages. In addition, panel members will be present during live operations to observe and provide advice.
Tony said: “Greater Manchester has a great history of protest and I am proud to say that I have been on many demonstrations throughout the years.
“As public servants; police have a duty to ensure that people’s freedom to peacefully protest is both facilitated and respected. This is frequently a challenge, as they are often thrown into the middle of conflicting and competing rights.
“GMP has a good record in policing protests. Just last year we saw the largest demonstration ever held in the city and it was a textbook case of what can be achieved when protesters work with police.
“But there’s also been issues of legitimate public concern raised: this panel will ensure that there is independent scrutiny of how police approach demonstrations in our region. I’m confident that it will build both trust and public confidence in our police service.
“I’m very grateful that panel members have been willing to give up their own time to provide this advice and input. The members are leaders in their respective fields with an impressive and broad range of experience.”
Sir Peter added: “I am pleased with this development. Policing has always benefited from local independent oversight and GMP has nothing to hide. The panel will be able to take an objective view on the balance between the right to protest and the rights of residents and businesses.
The panel will meet quarterly and will report regularly to Tony. Its findings and recommendations will be made public on the GMPCC website.