Policing protest reviews

Part of: Large-scale policing Policing on the beat Specific reviews

Inspection of the policing of public protests

In October 2020, the Home Secretary commissioned HMICFRS to inspect how effectively the police manage protests.

Getting the balance right? An inspection of how effectively the police deal with protests – March 2021

Following the Home Secretary’s commission, we inspected ten police forces with recent experience of policing protests and consulted a wide range of other bodies, including protest groups and – through a survey of over 2,000 people – the general public.

We offer our qualified support for five Home Office proposals for changes in the law. And we make two recommendations for further changes in the law.

Read Getting the balance right? An inspection of how effectively the police deal with protests

Here are the terms of reference for the 2020 inspection.

Adapting to Protest inspections and reports

Adapting to protest – 2009

Our report – Adapting to Protest – was published on 7 July 2009. Conducted at the request of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, this review looked at the policing methods used on 1 April 2009 during the G20 summits in London.

The report made a number of immediate recommendations, including that police:

  • Facilitate peaceful protest
  • Improve dialogue with protest groups where possible
  • Improve communication with the public
  • Moderate the impact of containment when used
  • Improve training to equip officers to deal with the full spectrum of protest activity
  • Wear clear identification at all times

and that:

  • National guidance on the policing of protest needs overhauling by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Read Adapting to Protest (revised June 2010)

Adapting to Protest – Nurturing the British Model of Policing

Adapting to Protest – Nurturing the British Model of Policing was published on 25 November 2009, and asks the question “How best should the police as a service adapt to the modern day demands of public order policing while retaining the core values of the British model of policing?”

This review builds on the recommendations of Adapting to Protest and develops a practical framework for police decision-making to facilitate peaceful protest. It includes the response from ACPO to the recommendations made by HMICFRS (then HMIC) in July and provides further details of the ACPO review of national public order training.

Three flow diagrams were developed as a way to provide, clear practical guidance for public order practitioners. These diagrams can help to devise appropriate command and control frameworks for large-scale public order operations.

Facilitating Peaceful Protest flow diagram

Use of Public Highway flow diagram

Protests on Private Land flow diagram (revised June 2010)

An External Reference Group provided critical oversight and scrutiny for the duration of the second part of the HMIC Review.

Read the Terms of Reference of the HMIC Review of the Policing of Public Protest.

Policing Public Order – An overview and review of progress against the recommendations of Adapting to Protest and Nurturing the British Model of Policing

Our report found that police forces cannot plan for a quiet world and must swiftly adapt in real-time to protests that pose risks to public safety.

Read Policing Public Order (corrected in March 2011 to delete repeated sentence on page 7)

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.