Police warn troublemakers hijacking peaceful protests in London, England

The Metropolitan Police Service today made it clear that the right to protest will always be respected on the streets of the capital, but anyone indulging in reckless violence would face serious consequences.

Once again the Met is facing a week of potential student demonstrations. Head of the MPS’s Public Order Branch, Commander Bob Broadhurst, said anyone planning to come to central London with the sole intention of causing trouble could expect firm action from the police.

He said: "We will take whatever steps are necessary to protect life and property. As I’ve said before, a significant violent element has hijacked the previous demonstrations from genuine peaceful protesters.

"We have also seen some people get carried away in the heat of the moment and get involved in violence which they would never normally consider.

"My message to these people is clear and unequivocal – make no mistake, if you indulge in reckless violence, injuring officers and innocent people, we will track you down and you will face the consequences. Those consequences could change the path of your life forever.

"By all means exercise your democratic right and protest, but this has to be peaceful otherwise you cross the line from protester to criminal, and this has the potential to affect your future opportunities in life."

Section 60 stop and search powers will be used within Westminster if necessary to prevent troublemakers hijacking peaceful protests.

The Met Police continues to urge those planning protests within the capital to come and work with officers ahead of events.

Commander Bob Broadhurst added that following the wanton and serious levels of violence during last Thursday’s tuition fees demonstrations, the MPS would be looking to see if there are other tactics that could be used to deal with violent disorder in the future.

"There has been a great deal of speculation over the weekend about the Met using water cannons. There are no current plans to use water cannons on the streets of the capital but we would be foolish if we did not take time to look at tactics such as this to see if it might be appropriate in the future.

"I would emphasise we will not rush in to anything and we are not in the business of knee jerk reactions. Anything we do will be carefully and fully considered to ensure the best outcome for protesters, officers and all Londoners."

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