181 Views

How should the police handle protests?

Police at the G20 protests

There is an unequivocal agreement that the primary role of the police is to uphold and implement law and order.

However, implementation of order has always been a contentious issue especially when it appears to go against the concept of liberty, and freedom of protest.

This moral issue has been brought to the forefront of discussion, and it is increasingly evident that the answer is not as clear as we would hope.

The protest at St Paul’s is an interesting case to consider when discussing this issue, for police action has yet to be implemented, and moral objections have been raised over the possibility of forceful removal.

The message we can draw from former Canon Chancellor Glenn Fraser’s resignation is a vital one: that you cannot allow force to be used against a peaceful protest under the name of an institution which is suppose to uphold moral concepts, such as justice and liberty.

This applies to both the Church and the government.So it’s clear that you cannot advocate freedom of protest and then use force to silence it without endangering public safety. So what is reasonable for the police to do when public safety is in danger?

The student protest in London during December 2010 is a key example of when both the protestors and the authorities hold a degree of moral standing, and yet both are vulnerable to criticism.

I don’t think you could reasonably argue that it’s wrong for the police to use force to combat those who were guilty of vandalism, assault and arson. However it is more difficult to defend when the tactics utilized affect those who are protesting peacefully.

To confine a group of students by kettling, the majority of whom had no link to, or advocated, the violence occurring, in the freezing cold without toilet facilities, food, water or any information of when they were to be released, is not what would spring to my mind when thinking about the police morally upholding law and order.

Despite this fact it would be unscrupulous to not consider the alternative view that these actions were taken during an atmosphere of hostility, and these measures were to prevent further social disorder.

Both views have value and the facts to support either one are hard to distinguish in the turbulent events. There are cases, though, in which maintaining the peace is no longer the principal aim, instead it is to restrict the protest with severe repercussions for the liberty and safety of protestors.

The G20 demonstrations highlight these repercussions with video evidence of peaceful protestors being beaten by batons and riots shields, with the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson epitomizing the police brutality. It was at that moment history had repeated itself, and protestors were facing the same ruthlessness experienced during the Thatcher era.

Though one could well ask, can we expect the authorities to consider liberty, human rights and respect as well as upholding the law whilst in the midst of a crowd of 50,000 protestors?

The answer is an obvious yes! When the police have not considered these notions we have experienced the same result every time and that is further disorder, resentment and casualties.

Admitting the obvious however, does not necessarily give us any clear direction of how to balance the demands of liberty for freedom of protest, and the requirement of the police to have the ability to uphold law and order.

Whilst the actions taken at the G20 were an abuse of authority and planned to be so, the actions at other protests such as the student protest are more morally ambiguous.

For while I would instinctively disagree with kettling, within a stressful and volatile environment I would concede it could be a better alternative than letting events take their course, if we were to judge from the recent riots.

With more protests surely to occur as defiance against government cuts to public services increases, it is imperative that the police maintain a balance between the rights of the protestors and public safety.

Yet the charged nature of large-scale protests means disorder can easily transpire, and if turbulent events occur it becomes the most important time, as well as the most difficult time, to obtain the balance between liberty and the implementation of order.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
916 views1
Campus News
916 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
249 views
Arts
249 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
265 views
Arts
265 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
247 views
Arts
247 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
305 views
Arts
305 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
312 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
283 views
Arts
283 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
266 views
Arts
266 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
406 views
Campus News
406 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
214 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
678 views
Arts
678 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
277 views
Arts
277 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
368 views
Artist Focus
368 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
280 views
Interview
280 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
347 views
Arts
347 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
399 views
Arts
399 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
421 views
Arts
421 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
330 views
Artist Focus
330 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
361 views
Books
361 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
459 views
Science
459 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
388 views
News
388 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…