The media provided one-sided coverage of last month’s G20 riots in London, a police chief told parliament today.
Detective chief constable Sue Sim, who specialises in public order at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said examples of police officers being assaulted had “mysteriously disappeared” from the coverage.
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The Home Affairs Committee met this morning to hear evidence from Sim and protestors, including Nicole Fisher who claimed she was assaulted at a vigil for Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor who died when he was caught up in the G20 protests.
When asked if she was concerned by the police conduct described by Fisher, Sim said she would not comment until she was “fully aware of all the facts”.
“Everybody listens to the media,” she said. “Everybody listens to the protestors, but no one listens to the police officers.
“Looking at the media coverage, it is clear the media was pointing out the fact the protestors were assaulted.
“I saw police officers being assaulted. Now that has mysteriously disappeared. You have to be careful how you interpret media coverage.”
Sim later said that the term “kettling” – used to describe the police tactic of penning protestors in one area to control the crowd – was a media invention.
“I don’t understand the term. It’s been created by the media,” she said.
“I’d call it containment. Kettling is a term that doesn’t appear in any police manuals.”
Sim said she was proud of the majority of police officers.
“Are there some bad police officers? Yes there are,” she said.
“I will give you my word that we will learn from this. The manual will be rewritten.”
At last week’s select committee hearing, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said a dossier recording more than 13 complaints about misconduct of police towards journalists was to be handed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland from the Police Service of Northern Ireland told the committee today that a media strategy similar to that used in Northern Ireland would help avoid another G20 fiasco.
McCausland said a positive relationship between the police and the media at major events was “a win-win situation”.
“It is far easier to have the media work with us. The media are part of the community,” he told MPs.
“We appoint media liaison officers and they exchange mobile numbers with police. We brief all officers on press cards.
“We try to develop a positive relationship with the media.”