Boris Johnson suggests radical change in Met tactics is needed ahead of any future student protests.

Boris hints at tougher police tactics on student demos

London Mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed that police tactics after the student demo are being assessed and could become tougher.

During mayoral questions on December 15, John Biggs, London Assembly Member for City and East, questioned the mayor on the much criticised policing of Wednesday’s demonstration.

Mr Johnson stated: “I had long and detailed discussions with the commissioner throughout Wednesday.  We discussed the urgent necessity to mount a full enquiry into what had gone wrong.”

He hinted that tough police tactics may be re-established: “There is a serious conversation to be had about the extent to which at G20 there may have been a change in police tactics, whether the pendulum was allowed to swing too much in the other direction”

“We need to examine that, I am sure the police will be examining that… I think that the investigation that the police are now conducting will get to the bottom of that and it’s very important that they do.”

Mr Biggs went on to raise the issue of government plans for fees saying: “Do you have any understanding of the anger felt by the vast majority of students who feel concerned that the government’s plans will force them into great debt?”

Mr Johnson responded “I have to say that I do not understand or accept that people can be driven to commit acts that endanger human life.”

The chair interrupted the discussion pointing out that education was not under the remit of the GLA, but not before Mr Johnson had proffered his experience of the student demonstrations.  

In direct contrast to the anti-Tory rhetoric expressed during the demonstration, Mr Johnson said: “I went past the student demonstration in Westminster, I talked to a great many of the charming demonstrators most of whom said how much they supported me, indeed it may be a measure of the education that they are receiving that quite a few of them said that they had voted for me, I was delighted by that.”

The Mayor’s comments were supported by Gareth Bacon, Councillor for the London borough of Bexley who praised the police’s use of kettling and urged the mayor to stand by its use.

Mr Bacon said:  “Kettling… is tremendously effective at preventing disorder and damage to property.

The police change in tactics on this occasion allowed what seemed to be a peaceful demo to pass on its way and to wreak damage to property and put lives at risk.”

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