New HMIC report: 'Adapting to Protest'

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Wed Feb 9 09:17:39 GMT 2011

Hash: SHA1

To summarise to a sentence, "oh no, the oiks are better at using IT systems 
for command and control than we are!". Certainly has implications for how 
climate camps and other eco-protest will be policed, especially now that the 
government say they're going to make camping on private land a criminal 

The new HMIC report is on-line at --

Rather a dull looking tome, but basically the police are getting rather 
worried that all this austerity is really going to annoy people, and at the 
moment the police are no match for determined protestors using social 
networking to co-ordinate their actions (then again, perhaps they're looking 
at tunisia/Egypt and bricking it).

Press release attached below.





Police forces cannot plan for a quiet world and must swiftly adapt in real-
time to protests that pose risks to public safety, a report by H.M. 
Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found today.

HMIC’s 2009 reports, Adapting to Protest and Adapting to Protest - Nurturing 
the British Model of Policing, balanced human rights with keeping the peace 
during the digital age, when social media and mobile phones enable 
demonstrators to organise and change their plans quickly.

Today’s review considers the implications of the British model, built on “toe-
to- toe” policing – the principle that officers should police amongst the people 
without barriers or obstructions.

This approach has to-date prevailed, even during recent events, where protests 
escalated to include violence against officers on the ground and attacks on 
iconic buildings.

However, HMIC is calling for the police to remain adaptable to the changing 
nature of protest, and is urging the police to consider how tactics used to 
safeguard peaceful protest can be developed to deter those with criminal 

H.M. Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O’Connor, said, “The pattern 
of protest is evolving in terms of numbers, spread, disruption and, in some 
instances, violence.

“Police tactics must be as adaptable as possible to the circumstances, and the 
challenge of striking the right balance between competing rights is a difficult 
judgment call. Commendably, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is 
taking up most of HMIC’s recommendations in their new training procedures. 
However, these changes are taking time to embed with officers; months, if not 
years. The new ACPO manual, finalised in October 2010, will be used as the 
basis for training from Spring 2011. Taking into account the time required to 
train officers, changes on the ground may take up to two years or more.

“Those in command of policing events must consider how to accelerate learning 
in order to respond to the sort of changes in protests that we have seen.”

HMIC identified in 2009 that a lack of a common view in the use of force was 
problematic, and recommended that ACPO, the Home Office and the National 
Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) agree an overarching set of principles on 
the use of force that cover all circumstances of policing. This recommendation 
has yet to be addressed.

In an HMIC review of 45 forces in September 2009, less than 60% of forces had 
tested their plan to mobilise their public order resource. In December 2010, 
this figure remained unchanged; more than 40% of forces had not tested their 
plans. ACPO has identified that some forces may not have sufficient numbers of 
trained officers to meet a mobilisation request. By contrast, large numbers of 
protesters can be organised in hours, and protests can change focus in minutes 
through the use of social media and mobile phones. This is a considerable 
issue if more public order events take place in the year ahead.

HMIC’s report found that adaptability comes at a cost. Some metropolitan 
forces showed budget increases of between £245,000 and £636,000 between 
2009/10 and 2010/11 due to the extra resources needed to police protests. One 
metropolitan force reported that their opportunity costs for policing student 
protests in November and December 2010 amounted to at least £100,000.

Sir Denis concluded, “Continuing to respond to the whole spectrum of protests 
is a particular challenge in austere times, when savings must be made to every 
police budget. The key to the police successfully adapting to the need for 
peaceful protest is to prevent the disorder from occurring in the first 
instance, where possible. Learning lessons faster and communicating better 
with officers on the ground, as well as with the public, will help the police 
minimise risk and maintain order on the streets.”

Notes to Editors

1. HMIC’s 2009 reports, Adapting to Protest and Adapting to Protest - 
Nurturing the British Model of Policing, can be found on HMIC’s website

2. To bid for an interview with an HMIC spokesman, please contact the HMIC 
press office on 020 3513 0600. Outside of office hours, please call 0782 583 3222 
if your query is urgent, or email hmicpressoffice at

3. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public 
interest and rigorously examines the effectiveness of police forces and police 
authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise 
public confidence.

4. Further information about HMIC can be found on the website


- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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For details see

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