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Kettling ‘tzar’ is deeply troubling, says solicitor

22 March 2011

The Metropolitan Police’s decision to appoint a kettling manager is “deeply troubling”, according to a Bindmans solicitor.

As the force prepares for this weekend’s protests against the government’s budget, assistant commissioner Lynne Owens announced the selection of a special ‘containment manager’, tasked with engineering potential kettling procedure.

Responding to the appointment of what he called “some form of kettling tzar”, John Halford, a partner at Bindmans, said: “That is deeply troubling. What the courts have held to be an extreme step – particularly because of the risk of fundamental rights being compromised - has now become routine.”

To bolster its civil liberties cache the Met Police has also announced human rights champions Liberty will be allowed access to the control room for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) rally on Saturday.

James Welch, legal director at Liberty, said: "It is heartening that the TUC and Metropolitan Police are working together to ensure a free and peaceful protest. Liberty is honoured to accept their invitation to provide independent monitoring.

“Our roots lie in the legal observation of demonstrations in the 1930s and our founders would have been delighted with the kind of cooperation offered by the police and protest organisers of today. It shows that the right to peaceful protest now guaranteed by the Human Rights Act has made some advances over eight decades."

Halford is leading a judicial review against the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the 2009 G20 protests. Speaking on the eve of the first day of the hearing, he said: “Many countries around the world take their cue from Britain as to what is acceptable in terms of the policing of protests on the streets of their capitals. This case exposes the shameful fact that many police officers lack even a basic understanding of their proper role which is to facilitate non-violent protest, not suppress it using violence.”

BLOB: The Metropolitan Police has released surveillance footage of nine more protestors they are seeking to question as part of Operation Malone.

Detectives investigating ‘incidents of disorder’ that occurred during student protests on 30 Novermber and 9 December are appealing for information on the individuals, who they believe were involved. The Metropolitan Police’s appeals section states: “Officers suspect the individuals featured were involved in offences of violent disorder and affray.”

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Police & Prisons