Police criticised over kettling at G20 protests

MPs say that widespread use of kettling failed to respect human rights

The police failed to respect the right to protest when they subjected demonstrators and members of the public to "kettling" techniques during the G20 protests in London, a parliamentary committee has said.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said that the widespread use of kettling, a tactic which pens protesters in behind large cordons for hours, did not give "sufficient weight" to the rights of individuals.

The report said: "In our view it would be a disproportionate and unlawful response to cordon a group of people and operate a blanket ban on individuals leaving the contained area, as this fails to consider whether individual circumstances require a different response."

The MPs also criticised those officers who removed their identification numbers and urged service heads to use the strongest disciplinary action against them. They added that police had a "long way to go" before they fully respected human rights in their operations.

The Labour chair of the committee, Andrew Dismore, said: "There were obvious problems with this policing operation. 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. It did not help that communication was so poor between police and protesters. Both sides must try to improve this in future."

A number of serious allegations were made against the police following the demonstrations in April, in which 35,000 people took part.

The death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, who died after he was pushed to the ground by officers, is currently being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission along with three other complaints of violence from protesters.