Sukey Comments on today’s HMIC Report


9th February 2011, 10.15am

Team Sukey, authors of the online tool that helps keep protesters safe at demonstrations, is delighted by the continued positive interest in our work from journalists and activists around the world.

We believe our project is contributing to public order and increasing safety on the ground during legal protests by reducing tensions on the street to the point where police do not feel the need to use the highly controversial technique of kettling.

The publication of the H.M. Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Public Order Review today makes it clear that the police are struggling to cope with the increased volume and frequency of protests. This is not helped by proposed cuts to their budgets that will see large numbers of officers lose their jobs.

Worryingly, the problem identified by the last HMIC report in 2009 that there is no overarching agreed set of principles on the use of force has still not been addressed. Moreover the proposed timetable for recommended extra training for front-line officers means that most will not have been properly trained for another two years.

Sukey would like to step into that gap and help provide a safe room in which protesters and the police can meet as equals and work together to enable peaceful protest by sharing information on planned kettles openly and honestly.  

Kettling is having a chilling effect on the democratic right to peaceful protest and is directly increasing the possibility of violence.

We want to see an end a tactic that in the words of a senior doctor risks repeating a Hillsborough-type tragedy and which has been condemned by the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority's civil liberties panel Victoria Borwick.

We have been delighted to receive countless messages of support from people including this heart-warming message that should stand us a reminder to what we are doing:

"We are planning to be at the 26th March TUC demo. We would like to know how to avoid trouble and violence, from any quarter. We are both 60+ and there are health reasons for not being kettled or near violent people. Good luck with your work "

Our work coincides entirely with the police goal of preserving public order, and the public’s concern of staying safe at protests. It goes without saying that we are addressing concerns that we restrict criminals from exploiting it.

The best way to prevent trouble on the streets is to restore faith in the ballot box and to restore faith in the police. We hope by increasing transparency and accountability for the police and protesters that we are playing a key role in doing so.