Senior police officers face serious questions over the “unacceptable” trend of officers disguising their identity during clashes with protesters, the chair of the independent police watchdog warned yesterday, as it began formally investigating a third alleged assault on a G20 protester.
Nick Hardwick, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), called for a national debate over how police maintain public order and demanded much tougher political accountability, warning that police should remember they were “the servants not the masters” of the people.
He is also seeking the necessary resources for the watchdog to conduct more investigations independently from police – as it is doing over the death of Ian Tomlinson, the news vendor who died after being caught up in the G20 protests – and expanding its remit in cases where there is evidence of wider systematic problems.
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The latest investigation concerns a 23-year-old man who claims to have been assaulted by a Metropolitan police officer in the early evening of 1 April at a police cordon on Cornhill in the City of London, adding to two existing investigations into the death of Tomlinson and claims by a woman activist that she was attacked.
Hardwick told the Observer the latest case would “not necessarily” be the last taken up by the IPCC, which is still sifting almost 90 complaints about the use of force and examining CCTV footage.
He made clear his concerns about incidences of officers disguising their identifying numbers, which should always be displayed on the shoulders of their uniforms, arguing that colleagues should have reported such wrongdoing.