Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Police braced for more protests

Police and Parliament are braced for further student protests as the House of Lords debates the Government's controversial plans to hike university tuition fees to as much as £9,000.

Scotland Yard has revealed it was in talks with Northern Irish police over the possible deployment of water cannon to deal with possible violence in future demonstrations, after ugly scenes last week when a car carrying the Prince of Wales was attacked.

But it was not thought likely that water will be used if unrest breaks out today as Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday said her approval would be required and made clear she did not think the tactic necessary.

"I don't think anybody wants to see water cannon used on the streets of Britain," Mrs May told MPs, after giving a statement to the House of Commons in which she revealed that a police report on the attack on Prince Charles' car was due by Friday.

The head of the Metropolitan Police public order branch, Commander Bob Broadhurst, later said it would be "foolish" not to consider whether water cannon were appropriate for policing protests in London, but stressed there were "no current plans" to use them and promised there would be no "knee-jerk reactions" to last week's violence.

The National Union of Students and University of London Union said they had no demonstrations planned for Tuesday.

But a group calling itself the Education Activist Network said that hundreds of students plan to "kettle" the police by linking arms around New Scotland Yard in support of 20-year-old Alfie Meadows, who needed brain surgery after allegedly being struck by a police truncheon at last Thursday's protest. Demonstrators will then move on to Parliament for the evening's Lords vote.

EAN spokesman Mark Bergfeld said: "The student protesters on the previous demonstrations have been kettled over and over, denied their right to protest and their basic human rights. They've been kept in freezing temperatures for eight and even 10 hours at a time. What we're saying is that we have the right to protest in the face of attacks by a Government that is making the deepest cuts since the Second World War."

Labour has tabled a so-called "fatal amendment" designed to stop the tuition fees hike in its tracks in the Lords.

But with the coalition enjoying a 40-seat majority over Labour in the Upper House, the opposition needs the support of Liberal Democrat rebels or crossbenchers to stand a chance of blocking the university funding proposals.


From Belfast Telegraph