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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 July, 2005, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Expert offers view on G8 policing
Police and protesters in Edinburgh
Police have been working on their strategy for months
A public order expert believes that policing of events linked to the G8 summit has been "pretty successful".

Dr Mike Rowe, from Leicester University's Department of Criminology, said that despite the media's portrayal violence had been at a minimum.

There were 65 arrests on Wednesday as people smashed car windows, threw rocks and attempted to blockade one of the main approach roads to Gleneagles.

The police spent 18 months working on their strategy for the summit.

Thousands of officers, from Scotland, England and Wales, are on duty during the G8 Summit and its related events in Edinburgh, Stirlingshire and Perthshire.

Dr Rowe told BBC Scotland's news website said that there had been thousands involved in the protest, with "just a small amount of trouble".

He said: "Even the group which sat down in the street and blocked the roads it causes disruption and could be seen as counterproductive, it might be said that it goes against the interests of those protesting.

Very often the police will win by appearing to lose
Dr Mike Rowe
Public order policing expert

"But there were relatively few people involved and didn't amount to a great deal of disruption. In that respect the policing was relatively successful."

Chief Constable Peter Wilson, the head of the G8 police co-ordination centre, defended the tactics used by officers to tackle violent protests in Edinburgh on Monday.

More than 60 people were arrested following the events in the capital.

He added that the police had repeatedly asked those planning protests to discuss their plans with senior officers beforehand.

Dr Rowe said that modern policing was designed in a way in which the authorities had the power to insist on march times, routes and numbers involved.

He added: "You simply have to work within the official channels which are offered to you."

'Giving ground'

The academic said it was ironic that "protesters against the system are required to comply with the system's rules".

"There are issues with civil liberties and free speech, but police say they have respected free speech and civil liberties.

"Very often the police will win by appearing to lose. That is to say that you allow protesters to have their demo, but by doing that you are appearing to give ground," said Dr Rowe.

Police and protesters in Edinburgh
In G8 terms, disorder has been kept to a minimum, Dr Rowe said

He said there was evidence of confusion when the police initially called off the planned march around an agreed route in Achterarder, near the Gleneagles Hotel.

Dr Rowe said: "When the police really thought through what consequences there would be about cancelling the march, they obviously had a change of heart."

He added: "This could not be classed a policing disaster, there was no major outbreak of violence, the number of arrests has been relatively small, certainly compared with G8 meetings which have taken place elsewhere in the world.

"However, it is a cause of concern that the police are stopping people from travelling around the country, on the basis of what might happen.

"We often think of the police acting when something happens, but not in this case."

Dr Rowe said that nevertheless, the police had tried to maintain good links with the organisers of the demonstrations, including groups like G8 Alternatives.


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