British Police Must 'Adapt' to Today's Technology-Driven Protests: Report

By Beecher Tuttle February 09, 2011

UK authorities need to do a better job of adapting to modern day protests and violent demonstrations that are organized through social media sites like Twitter, a police watchdog organization said on Wednesday.

The report, issued by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of the Constabulary, said that British police need to be better prepared to respond to the "inherently messy" nature of today's protests, according to the BBC. The organization's chief inspector, Sir Denis O'Connor, noted that modern demonstrations can be pieced together through social networking sites in a matter of hours, and urged police organizations to train their personnel to react just as quickly.

"The pattern of protest is evolving in terms of numbers, spread, disruption and, in some instances, violence," he said

"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," O'Connor added.

The report also found that more than 40 percent of police units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to test their plans to respond to a sudden protest, and are unprepared to support other forces if the need arises. The police watchdog discovered that some forces didn't even have the appropriate number of police to mobilize cross-border support, according to TVNZ.

Derek Barnett, president of the Police Superintendents' Association, said that "forces must now address the issues raised by Sir Denis O'Connor as a matter of priority."

The report comes on the heels of two recent protests that quickly got out of hand and ended in violence and multiple arrests. Police were heavily criticized for their response to the 2009 G20 protests in London and last year's demonstrations at the Conservative Party headquarters, where hundreds of students easily breached police barricades.

O'Connor said that officers will need to better communicate with each other to avoid these types of situations.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

TechZone360 Contributor

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