Contact Us

For media enquiries call
020 3276 3803
or 07803 903686 for urgent out of hours enquiries.

You can also email the press office.

Follow us on @policechiefs

NPCC statement on HMICFRS protest inspection report

11 Mar 2021

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today said that the police are good at planning for protests, but more needs to be done to find the correct balance between the rights of protesters and the rights of others.

HMICFRS acknowledge that police protest planning teams “are usually skilled, experienced and effective” and that forces work well with other organisations and protest organisers, most of whom collaborate with the police to make sure that protests are safe.

The report also recognises that forces have developed a range of specialist roles in relation to protests, and that they make good use of equipment and technology, with the inspectorate highlighting that they were impressed by the work of protester removal teams.

The report says that, whilst gathering intelligence generally works well at a force level, improvements can be made in how this is done nationally. It also recognises that policing protests is no easy task, and that criticism will inevitably be directed to the service from those who say police are ‘too soft’ on protesters, and also from those who believe they are ‘too hard’.

The inspectorate have called for a “modest reset of the scales” in order to secure a better balance between the rights of protestors, and the rights of residents and businesses.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Public Order and Public Safety Chief Constable BJ Harrington, said:

“The right to protest is a well-established part of democracy in the UK. UK police have a long history of upholding this right while balancing it with the rights of others, seeking to minimise disruption and keep the public safe. 

“We have significant experience in policing protests and other large public events safely and peacefully, and the British approach is recognised as among the best in the world. 

“Protest policing is challenging and complex – and even more so during this current pandemic. Police officers seek to find the right balance between the rights of protestors and those of local residents and businesses while doing all they can to prevent violence and criminality in fast-moving situations, dealing with varied and new protest tactics.  As the inspectorate recognises, it is a particularly difficult balancing act when protests are non-violent and peaceful but highly disruptive.

“We are constantly learning and developing our approach to policing protest, and will carefully consider the inspectorate’s findings and recommendations as we continue to improve.

“The police officers involved in policing protest consistently place themselves in harm’s way to keep these events safe and lawful - it is right that HMICFRS recognises their hard work and professionalism.”