Talking good! Kettling bad!

I can’t say I find anything particularly disturbing about Police Liaison Officers (PLO) contacting event organisers. Police Scotland’s role involves facilitating lawful public demonstrations and protecting those participating. If, as seems to be the case, PLOs are merely seeking information about upcoming events, what possible harm is there? The more event organisers and Police Scotland talk to one another, the better.

As we know from the All Under One Banner marches, close cooperation between Police Scotland and the organisers has helped to ensure that these events go off without any trouble.

It’s always healthy to be slightly suspicious of the authorities. But it’s far from healthy to let this descend into paranoia. If folk want to make a fuss about police methods, they should object loud and long to the practice of ‘kettling‘; which is nothing more than unlawful detention. Police Scotland needs to be made aware of the extent to which this practice anger and alienates members of the public who would otherwise be appreciative and supportive of their service.

I have only ever experienced ‘kettling’ once. And then only briefly. But I really didn’t like the way it made me feel – despite the fact that I understood why it was being done. Even the memory of it continues to disturb me. I’m not sure Police Scotland is taking due account of the impact this practice has on the law-abiding people who are subjected to a form of imprisonment without cause or explanation.

Since I’m on the subject, I’ll also point out that ‘kettling’ is a very lazy and ineffective and inefficient form of policing. Lazy, because it is policing people instead of crime. Ineffective, because the people who are likely to be disruptive are familiar with police procedures and absent themselves as soon as they see preparations being made for ‘kettling’. Inefficient because it requires large numbers of officers to do nothing other than aggravate peaceful demonstrators while potential trouble-makers are long gone.

Police Scotland should keep talking to event organisers. But they need a rethink on ‘kettling’.


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