On SAGE Insight: Policing unacceptable protest in England and Wales

Article title: Policing unacceptable protest in England and Wales: A case study of the policing of anti-fracking protests

From Critical Social Policy

Following the death of Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor, at protests against the G20 meeting in London in 2009, a number of changes were proposed to public order policing in England and Wales. A new ‘human rights compliant’ framework for public order policing, based on dialogue, communication and a commitment to ‘facilitating’ peaceful protest, was proposed as a necessary response to help the police service ‘adapt to the modern day demands of public order policing’. This new approach to protest policing, based on compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 led to the introduction of new policing initiatives, the most notable of which was the introduction of Police Liaison Teams (PLTs) whose role is to liaise with protesters before, during and after protest events.

This article highlights protests against ‘fracking’ as a case study of police responses to protest in England and Wales. It suggests that despite recent changes to police policy in relation to protest in England and Wales, definitions of who and what constitute acceptable political activism, developed by police, are affecting how communities are able to protest and how they are being policed. The article makes a contribution to the body of academic work considering the impact of these changes on operational policing. The article will be of interest to an academic audience in areas such as criminology, sociology, social movement studies, and policing studies, but may also be of interest to a wider public audience concerned with the ways in which communities opposed to fracking are able to exercise their rights and demonstrate their opposition to government policy.

Abstract

In recent years public order policing policy in England and Wales has undergone significant changes. A ‘human rights compliant’ model of protest policing has been developed since 2009 and this article makes a contribution to the body of academic work considering the impact of these changes on operational policing. Drawing upon a longitudinal case study of the policing of protests against ‘fracking’ in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2013–14, the article contrasts post-2009 policy and academic discourses on protest policing with the experiences of anti-fracking protesters. To develop this assessment, the article also draws attention to previously unexplored definitions of acceptable and unacceptable protest set out by police in more recent policy, and considers the extent to which these definitions are reflected in the police response to anti-fracking protest. The article suggests that a police commitment to a human rights approach to protest facilitation is, at least in the case of anti-fracking protest, contingent on the focus and form of political activism.

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Article details
Policing unacceptable protest in England and Wales: A case study of the policing of anti-fracking protests
Will Jackson, Joanna Gilmore, Helen Monk
First Published January 23, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/0261018317753087
From Critical Social Policy

 

 

     
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