Friday 3 April 2009

met trick

The method used by the police on Wednesday to contain the demonstrating crowds, known as 'kettling' , is coming in for some criticism.

The Met is not being given a fair hearing. Their behaviour, as witnessed by the BOF, was almost entirely decent. While one or two donned their helmets with blazing eyes and and a set jaw, the huge majority behaved in a restrained and controlled fashion.

By the time most of the demonstrators had had enough of it all, they had realised that they would have to stay for a little longer. Every exit appeared to be blocked by a double line of day-glo yellow jackets, or helmets and shields. Yet the crowd appeared to be thinning.

How could this be, when every request for information about the opening of the cordons was met with the same answer?

"We know as much as you do. Nothing."

The BOF decided to explore. Moving down Victoria Street, he walked into an alley which appeared to be a dead end. It had a passage leading off at right angles, hidden in shadow, and the passage led to freedom. There was not a policeman in sight.

The intention was clear: by allowing a slow trickle of participants to leave, there would be no sudden rush of hyped-up crowds, no storming of public transport. And all the while those who were either determined to stay and cause trouble, or those who were too stupid to find their way out (and therefore best left in the hands of the authorities) could rant at being held captive.

It was a kettle with a smart leak.

Someone has to say it: well done, the Met.

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