The UK can expect a new era of disorder on the streets where demonstrations are concerned, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner admitted.
Sir Paul Stephenson told the Metropolitan Police Authority that the “game has changed” in the way the police handle demonstrations in light of the recent wave of student protests against hikes in tuition fees.
The commissioner was responding to criticism of the police’s handling of the recent Millbank riot two weeks ago which lead to violence and commercial damage when 50,000 students converged on central London.
He admitted the force had been taken by surprise by the demonstration two weeks ago and that a review of the operation found that not enough police had been placed on duty.
“The game has changed and we missed it,” said Sir Paul. “We should have put more officers on and we did not.”
In future, he said, police “will be making greater use of social networking sites” such as Twitter and Facebook prior to demonstrations.”