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IPCC calls for immediate change in policing tactics: G20 pdf Bishopgate Report

observer | 06.08.2009 13:10 | G20 London Summit | Repression

Lots of coverage appearing online and on tv news of the latest IPCC report into G20 policing, this one in relation to police tactics in dealing with the Climate Camp on Bishopgate and the specific experiences of one woman mostly at the hands of TSG.

The report is available here:
and reprinted below for information purposes.

HMIC has made three immediate recommendations:

- No surprises – Protestors and public should be made aware of
likely police action in order to make informed decisions.

- A release plan to allow vulnerable or distressed persons or those
inadvertently caught up in the police containment to exit.

- A review of current public order training.


Commissioner’s report following the IPCC
independent investigation into a complaint
that officers used excessive force against a
woman during the G20 protests


This report sets out the Commission's findings following its investigation into a complaint from a 23-year-old woman that police officers had used excessive
force against her at the G20 protests.

This complaint is one of 134 received by the IPCC about the police use of
force during the G20 protests on 1 and 2 April 2009, and one of five that has
been independently investigated.


On 16 April 2009, the IPCC received a complaint from a 23-year-old woman
who had been at the Climate Camp on Bishopsgate in the City of London on 1
April 2009.

Her complaint was that, during her time in the Climate Camp, she was kicked
and struck with shields and batons with no warning. She stated that this left
her with bruising on her legs and arms and later, some heavy vaginal bleeding which lasted throughout the night. Following consultation with her GP, the complainant was informed that the bleeding could have been a miscarriage, although she was not aware when she attended the demonstration that she might have been pregnant and this was never confirmed.

IPCC investigation

The IPCC decided to investigate this matter independently because of the
serious nature of the alleged possible miscarriage.

The purpose of the IPCC’s investigation was to identify whether there was
evidence of criminal or disciplinary conduct by a police officer, and any
learning, for individual officers or the police service as a whole.
During the investigation, statements were taken from the complainant and
four of her friends who were witnesses. CCTV was obtained, video footage
was examined and medical evidence sought. Several of the complainant’s
friends witnessed her being struck with shields. One describes her “being
tossed around in…a scrum.” All the officers in the video footage are wearing
personal protective equipment including helmets and their faces are not

At about midday on 1 April 2009, the woman arrived at the Climate Camp at
Bishopsgate where she met a number of friends. She spent the afternoon at
the camp and at approximately 6.30pm, saw police officers wearing “riot gear”
starting to assemble outside the Carbon Exchange and moving towards the
protestors. She could see her friend in the crowd and went to check she was

The exact sequence of events over the next 30 minutes is unclear. Footage
obtained from private recordings show a melee involving a large crowd of
protestors and police officers, and during that time a number of altercations
took place.

The complainant describes police pushing the crowd with their shields and
shouting “get back” but the crowd was immovable behind them so those at the front were crushed. She believes she fell to the ground at some stage and
was helped up. She also describes being struck to her face and body with
shields and batons, and being kicked.

The video footage taken by the complainant’s friend is shot from above and
shows officers with batons drawn and, on occasions, using them against the
protestors. The codes visible on their helmets identify the serial of a group of
officers from the Territorial Support Group and another officer from the
borough of Richmond and Twickenham. Further work to identify the officers
involved was not carried out, in response to the complainant’s wishes.

Once police had managed to move the crowd back some 10 to 15 metres, the
demonstration became peaceful again and the woman sat on the ground with
her friend. During this time, the complainant says she began to bleed quite
heavily and tried to leave, but was not allowed to leave the area. She
eventually left sometime between midnight and 1 am.

The IPCC sought medical evidence from the complainant’s GP, who
confirmed that she had bruising. He was unable to confirm whether or not she
might have been pregnant but felt that the likelihood she had miscarried was

During the course of the investigation the complainant clarified that her
complaint was about the tactics used by, and the behaviour of, the
Metropolitan Police Service as a whole rather than any individual officer. She
did not want action to be taken against individual officers but did want to
ensure that learning was taken from her case and that her complaint is
considered with future tactics for policing demonstrations in mind. She told us:
“I feel the treatment I received by the police officers was unnecessary,
disproportionate and inhumane. I feel violated. The police used excessive
force against me causing me to suffer bruises, swellings, and potentially a
miscarriage. I will probably never know or be able to prove that I was pregnant
but I feel very distressed that this may have happened.“

The nature of the IPCC investigation therefore altered and I took the decision,
in line with the complainant’s wishes, to conclude the independent
investigation and ensure that her experience would be used to inform the
HMIC review into the policing of the protests. She also asked us to identify the
group of officers who had been involved in the altercation with her, and to
write to them outlining our findings. We have identified the serials and will be
sending them this report. Our concern here however is not with individual
officers carrying out a tactical plan set by a commander, but with those who
commanded the operation who should also learn from her experience.

We also offered to facilitate a meeting between her and a senior officer of the
Metropolitan Police to address her wish to know how the police have learned
from the incident.


The complainant was one of a large number of peaceful demonstrators at the
Climate Camp in the City of London on 1 April 2009. The camp was there to
promote environmental awareness; all witness accounts and media reports
suggest the camp was, in the main, peaceful, with a “carnival like
atmosphere”. At about 6.30 p.m. witnesses report the policing atmosphere
change; as one witness told us: “I have been to many camps and I have never
seen anything so calm turn into something so violent”.

In the course of the melee the complainant was forcibly pushed by an officer
using their short shield in an attempt to move the crowd backwards. There are
also attempts by an officer to move her backwards using their forearm. These
pushes connect with her chest and neck. It is clear from video footage that
she is unable to move backwards due to the number of people behind her.

The front of the crowd is clearly most susceptible to injury as a result of the
police tactics being used here, as they take the full force of the police efforts
to move the crowd.

The HMIC review has revealed that the use of the short shield began to be
developed by forces in response to events at the G8 summit in Scotland in
July 2005. These tactics have been developed locally, and do not form part of
any national training or the current ACPO Public Order manual. They have
not been medically assessed centrally, nor have they been adopted by all

This complainant’s experience highlights the recommendation made by HMIC, that early consideration in any review of training should be given by the MPS and ultimately ACPO to undertaking a review of current public order training including an examination of tactics (such as the use of shields and batons) ensuring that they are subjected to medical assessment.

The complainant was not allowed to leave the area of Bishopsgate for some
four to five hours in order to make herself more comfortable with regard to her
bleeding. It is difficult to see how this could possibly have been justified. We
echo the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee: “There is no
excuse for the police preventing peaceful protestors or other people
innocently caught up in a protest from leaving a “contained” area where the
police can be sure that they do not pose a violent threat to society. “ While
accepting that the police are unlikely to be “sure” we think that sensible
discretion should prevail here and “this is a risk which the police must be
prepared to run.”

While this young woman’s alleged injuries were more serious than most,
prompting the need for independent investigation, her experience appears to
have been typical of many peaceful protestors on 1 April. She was caught up
in what appears to have been a frightening experience over which she had
little or no control. Like many others that day, she had no prior warning of the
police intention to use force in containing the crowd, and no prior warning of a
containment tactic that prevented her leaving when she began to bleed.

HMIC has made three immediate recommendations which would bear
directly on this complainant’s experience:

o No surprises – Protestors and public should be made aware of
likely police action in order to make informed decisions.

o A release plan to allow vulnerable or distressed persons or those
inadvertently caught up in the police containment to exit.

o A review of current public order training.

The IPCC has also previously recommended that consideration be given to
the use by police of portable matrix information boards with large-scale
displays to assist communication.

The experience of the complainant in this case directly supports the need for
these recommendations and we encourage the Metropolitan Police Service to
respond to them as soon as possible.

Her experience also confirms the need, borne out in the HMIC report, for the
police to develop more sophisticated tactics to deal with peaceful, but
disruptive, protest, in which the use of force should be seen as a last rather
than first resort.

Deborah Glass
Deputy Chair



Hide the following 2 comments

IPCC reveals its true colours

06.08.2009 22:30

"While this young woman’s alleged injuries were more serious than most, "

In less than a sentence the IPCC has yet again demonstrated that it is a propaganda arm of the police. There is nothing alleged about the injuries. They were confirmed by several people including the GP. However, by claiming that the injuries may not have been real the IPCC have issued police propaganda again.

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