Minister – jolly glad about G20 policing

by | Apr 21, 2009

The Rt. Hon. The Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC – a junior Home Office minister responsible for counter-terrorism and security – has waded into the debate on policing at the G20. And he’s determined to sound like a berk:

Thousands of officers acted absolutely professionally and proportionately, thousands were actually able to demonstrate peacefully on our streets, criminal activity in the rest of the metropolis was kept to an absolute minimum and the police also maintained high levels of security.

And I think we should be extremely proud of them. This does not excuse acts which are criminal and there are now investigations taking place for those particulars.

But in general I think we are very well-served by our police. I am very proud of them and the way I approach it generally is they are on our side and they are our people…

I have to say I do not like the thought of water cannon, baton rounds or shooting people all of which seem to occur in some other countries and I am jolly glad I live in this country. But all of those things will be looked at.

In contrast, Denis O’Conner, the policeman heading the inquiry into the protest, has branded police tactics ‘unacceptable’…  

(See also, Charlie’s concerns about how the police were hyping up the potential for trouble before the demonstrations and Alex’s account from afterwards.)

Update: It’s interesting to see what Lord West had to say about the G20 before it happened. Speaking in the Lords, he was in chipper mood. City workers might have advised to dress down during the protests, but he was planning to “dress up slightly”. Oh how his fellow peers laughed!

Asked whether young people should be allowed to protest about financial issues and climate change, the ex-First Sea Lord replied:

I have a number of youngsters myself [presumably, he’s referring to his children, not the herd of semi-feral youth he grazes on his back lawn]. The young people in this country are generally very good. I have been very impressed with the cadet forces and all sorts of groups, so I would certainly not say that they are all anarchists.

However, as I said, when there are so many thousands of people involved some will be troublemakers who are not there to be peaceful demonstrators. They do not have deep-held feelings about these things but are there for other reasons and ulterior motives. That is extremely unfortunate.

Perhaps we should expect keelhauling for troublemakers with ulterior motives to be proposed in the next Criminal Justice bill…

Update II: Here’s another weird one. Asked by Pauline Neville-Jones what monitoring of social network sites was undertaken by “government departments, agencies or bodies”, Lord West offered a flat denial: “The Government do [sic] not monitor social networking sites.” What at all? You have to be kidding me…


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

More from Global Dashboard

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Created in partnership with: COVID-19 marks a turning point in the 21st century.​ Levels of uncertainty are off the chart, making predictions impossible. ​But if we can create plausible stories about different futures, we create a...

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Earlier this week, we published Shooting the Rapids – COVID-19 and the Long Crisis of Globalisation. In the final section, we present a plan for collective action at the global level with four elements:  Firefight better – getting the emergency response...