Police role when dealing with protest demonstrations

Essay by gartsUniversity, Bachelor'sB, August 2007

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QUESTION 1Police have been, and are, subject to pressure from both local councils and members of the public to intervene when a demonstration takes place. The level of intervention required is subject to the manner of public demonstration taking place. In this instance, the 'protest demonstration' occurring seems somewhat civilized and therefore requires very little or no physical force, instead urging police to take on a peace-keeping role. This essay will examine the role of police in a peaceful demonstration with reference to the governing legislation for public assemblies in the Summary Offences Act 1988. Further analysis will study the rights of those involved in the demonstration.

Studies in the role of police in maintaining order during public protests suggests that; providing demonstrators display lawful conduct during the action taken, police will not only exercise discretion (even in the event of a demonstration challenging state interests) but will further offer the protesters protection (Waddington 1999).

The protest outlined in the question, suggests that a small group of citizens are taking action against the local council. Although there may be concern from the local council about the nature of the protest, the democratic society in which we live denotes anyone the liberty of free-speech (Waddington 1999). Therefore, the immediate role noted for police is one of a non-biased stance (White & Perrone 1997). Because no member of council is at risk of notable suffering, the police must primarily protect the rights of those demonstrating.

The mention of small children involved, along with the council chambers situated near a road pose an initial threat. Thus, the introduction of traffic monitoring should be implemented to maintain a steady flow of traffic. The security could be further increased by placing some road closures during the demonstration. The necessity of this however, would have...