Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Can The Israeli Police Learn New Lessons and Tactics?

I wonder, are Israeli police open for ideas regarding how to deal with demonstrators?

Seems there's an attempt over in Britain:

'Mediators' proposed for protests

Independent Northern Ireland-style go-betweens could ease tensions between police and protesters, say MPs.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights...report says a decision to "kettle" some of the London demonstrators had failed to recognise their rights. One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.

..."Both protesters and police must share information," said the report. "Whilst this happens in many cases it is clear that at least some aspects of communication at the G20 protests were poor. "Mutual distrust was apparent and the police and protesters seemed to have different expectations of what the dialogue should be about and how it should proceed.

"This ineffective communication led to frustration on both sides and, possibly, to the police taking a more heavy handed approach to the Climate Camp protest than would otherwise have been the case."

..."There is a case for considering the use of independent negotiators to facilitate dialogue between police and protests to overcome distrust and tensions," said the committee.

...Andrew Dismore MP, the committee's chairman, said: "While kettling may be a helpful tactic, it can trap peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders for hours. "There must be clear safeguards in place to make sure containment is used only when necessary and proportionate."

This I found most appropriate to the situation here in Israel:

The committee also said officers should be legally obliged to wear their identifying numbers, after a number of complaints during the G20 that officers did not have them on display.

And I found this on the media of special interest:

Media reporting of the build up to the G20 protests

31. The Climate Camp Legal Team, in its written evidence, commented on “increasing concern that the police were talking up the potential for violence in their press briefings”.78

Commander Bob Broadhurst, “Gold Commander” for the G20 operation, was reported as having spoken about activists planning in an “unprecedented” way to “stop the city”. The Metropolitan Police’s press spokesman, Simon O’Brien, was reported as having described the police as “up for it”, the implication being that the police were ready for violence. There was talk of old anarchist groups reforming and using new technology to thwart the police.79

Paul Lewis of the Guardian cited a briefing provided by Commander Broadhurst on 20 March in which it was alleged that he “told reporters of the possibility that protesters might storm buildings, damage property and bring large areas of London to a standstill”.80

32. AC Allison denied that the Metropolitan Police had talked up the prospect of violence. He said that police spokesmen had not mentioned the possibility of violence and had emphasised that plans to disrupt the City were “aspirational”.81 Quoting Commander O’Brien in full, he showed how his comment on the police being “up for the [G20] operation in all of its complexities” had been taken out of context and applied solely to the public order elements of the operation.82 He took issue with Mr Lewis’s recollection of Commander Broadhurst’s comments and said “the last thing we wanted to do was hype this up in any way, because we recognised that if we, in any way, hyped this up, all we were likely to do is encourage more people to come out and commit disorderly acts”.83

33. We have had the opportunity to review the transcripts of the press briefings provided by Commanders Broadhurst and O’Brien and they are consistent with the oral evidence we heard from AC Allison. The briefings clearly set out the police’s concerns that the G20 summit would create some difficult public order challenges, without forecasting violence or buildings being stormed and without giving the impression that the police were relishing the opportunity for a fight.84 Consequently, we conclude that the main responsibility for talking up the prospect of violence and severe disruption rests with the media, not the police. As AC Allison said, “our briefings were designed to say exactly what our intelligence was … sadly, the media took it in a particular way and started reporting it in a particular way”.85

34. AC Allison said that the police had responded to exaggerated press comment about the G20 protests by briefing the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority to undertake a round of interviews to argue that the prospect of violence had been over-emphasised.86 We welcome this approach, but suggest that the Metropolitan Police could have done more to respond to exaggerated and distorted press coverage of its briefings. We note the conclusions of the parliamentary observers’ report that “aspects of the media strategy employed by the police prior to the demonstrations may have contributed to escalating expectations of violence”.87 We recommend that the Metropolitan Police review how the media reported its briefings on the G20 protests with a view to ensuring that exaggerated and distorted reporting can be countered with a quicker and more effective and authoritative response in future.
78 Ev 58.
79 For example, “G20 summit: Britain’s biggest ever policing operation launched”, Telegraph, last internet update 3.4.09;
“Office staff warned of confrontation as City braces for mass G20 protests”, Observer, 22.3.09.
80 Ev 78 and Q84. Also Q19 and Policing of the G20 Protests, paragraphs 25-6.
81 Q81.
82 Ibid.
83 Qq84-88.
84 See Q234.
85 Q82.
86 Q81.
87 Executive Summary, paragraph 2.

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