Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Riot police take the piss

If it were ordinary workers in a job that demands minimal aggression, I might sympathise. However, when the Police Federation complain that riot police suffer a "lack of comfort breaks," I can't find it in me to do anything but laugh. Are these people serious?

According to health and safety lead Brian Higgins, "if you have not been able to go to the toilet and you desperately need to go, you are not going to be concentrating on the task in hand." Even more absurdly, he cites this as the reason for their potential "incivility, impoliteness and intolerance." One has to wonder exactly how much self-awareness the Police Federation possesses.

For a start, if they would offer these characteristics as a result of not being able to go to the toilet, should they not oppose the practice of kettling? After all, kettled demonstrators are also deprived of the "ability to take a meal break or to go to the toilet" that riot cops demand. More so, in fact, since there is no possibility of "rotating" the population of a kettle. As Freedom points out, "Any attempt by people to leave the cordon would result in physically being attacked by police (usually with batons, often with riot shields, boots and fists) in order to preserve the kettle."

This, surely, would provoke a considerable amount of "incivility, impoliteness and intolerance" on the part of demonstrators. If you are "forcefully corralling people together into a space then surrounding the whole group on all sides preventing them from leaving the cordoned-in area," you are going to provoke strong emotions - and with good reason. People caged up try to break out.

But whilst this reaction is frowned upon, and liberals will cheer on the naive newcomers whose response is to get in the way of such outpourings of frustration, we're to feel sympathy for the police. They're doing the corralling, beating back students with batons - sometimes forcefully enough to cause real damage - and generally repressing protest and dissent. This is clearly hard work, and it's only reasonable that they should be allowed to take a comfort break and have a piss.

Poor lambs. The sight of protesters simply relieving themselves when necessary - on their van or on a statue of Churchill - must really gall them. After all, it's reasonable for an agent of state repression to want the toilet. The protesters contained for their own good are simply "disgraceful" if they can't hold it in, as their captors so stoically do.

Or maybe, just maybe, if they don't want to have to hold it in for so long, riot police should avoid kettling people? Call me cynical, but I find it hard to believe that the police will cease to brutally enforce the state's monopoly of violence just because their bladders are empty.