Police to supply water, toilets to "kettled"

LONDON (Reuters) - Police will warn protesters when they intend to use containment “kettling” tactics through social media sites like Twitter during future mass demonstrations, a senior officer said on Wednesday

Assistant commissioner Lynne Owens, in charge of policing demos for the Metropolitan Police, also said water and portable toilets would be made available to those who find themselves caught up behind police lines.

In addition Owens told BBC Radio that a “containment manager” would be employed for a TUC anti-cuts protest on March 26 which unions say could attract up to 200,000 marchers.

She said the containment officer would be “effecting a very fast release of the people involved in the containment, particularly those who have not been involved in violence.”

Owens said the review of how mass protests were policed had been undertaken because student feedback had indicated they did not know how to prepare ahead of marches.

“They didn’t know what the route was and didn’t know where to go, where there as violence and where it was safe,” she said.

The move follows criticism over the way the police handled a string of student marches in London that culminated in the worst rioting seen the capital for years.

Protesters played cat and mouse with police across the city as they attempted to avoid the kettling tactic.

Union chiefs and the police have asked civil rights group Liberty to act as observers at the March 26 demonstration. Both Scotland Yard and the TUC both expect the march to be peaceful.

The TUC said in a statement: “March for the Alternative will be safe and family friendly. Liberty will provide extra reassurance.”

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; editing by Keith Weir