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UK G20 report recommends new protest policing strategies

[JURIST] The UK's Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary [official website] Wednesday released a report [PDF] critical of the manner in which British law enforcement handled protesters at the G20 summit held in London in April. The report also detailed a number of proposals to deal with future protester gatherings, including more proportionate amounts of force, increased training for police forces on techniques for handling public gatherings, and increased communication between protesters and police. In a release [PDF], Chief Inspector Denis O'Connor said, "the world is changing and the police need to think about changing their approach to policing protest." O'Connor also called for a comprehensive implementation of the changes, as British handling of large crowds will soon be on display again as the 2012 Summer Olympics [Guardian report] in London draw near.

The Inspectorate report came at the behest of Scotland Yard in the wake of the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson [Guardian report] during the G20. Police handling of protesters was also an issue at the second G20 summit of the year, held in Pittsburgh in September. There were no deaths during the Pittsburgh G20, but police tactics, including the use of pepper spray, smoke canisters, and rubber bullets [New York Times report], was questioned. Perhaps the most controversial tactic was the use of the Long Range Acoustic Device [Post-Gazette report] against citizens, a tactic that raised a number questions and drew concern from commentators [Tribune-Review Op-Ed] and civil liberties advocates [JURIST Forum].

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