Police to Use Twitter to Warn of Kettling

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) is currently organising a demonstration against public spending cuts. On the 26th March this year they are planning for up to 200,000 people to descend on Hyde Park in London as part of the protest, titled “March for the Alternative”. Unlike the student marches in November and December of last year this proposed protest is family friendly with both the TUC and police insisting they expect the demonstration will be peaceful.

The police came under scrutiny from a number of people after their handling of the recent student protests. Jenny Jones, Metropolitan Police Authority member and Green Party London Assembly Member commented:

“The policing of the student fees demonstration shows that the Met still hasn’t learned how crucial communication is to the effective policing of demonstrations. They under-estimated the numbers as they didn’t listen to the National Union of Students who reported a big surge of interest with more coaches being booked. The Met failed to deploy quickly, even after the students entered the wrong building at Millbank Towers.”

Social networking sites have been identified as a route to improve communication. Twitter will be used by the Met offices to warn protesters in the event they are about to be “kettled” and also to counter any false rumours. They have advised that the use of megaphones in recent rallies was ineffective as messages were drowned out by the crowd and so may be abandoned for the demonstration in late March.

Scotland Yard will be providing protesters with a leaflet to explain their tactics during rallies and also that messages will be available via the social networking site. This move towards embracing social media further demonstrates the importance that Twitter and other networking sites can have in everyday life. The ability to quickly and easily communicate with protestors via Twitter could be invaluable in keeping the demonstration as peaceful and effective as possible.

We will keep you updated with any further news on this story.

Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

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