Policing of protest: documents on Police Liaison Officers released following Freedom of Information request

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London's Metropolitan Police have released a number of documents on the role of Police Liaison Officers (PLOs), whose official remit is to "provide a link between the police, protest organisers and protestors through dialogue with a focus on negotiation, mediation, initiation, communication [and] sensing."

The documents were released by the Met in late August following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Kevin Blowe, a community centre worker and campaigner from Newham in east London. Critics have argued that PLOs play a significant role in the gathering of intelligence on protestors and the content of the documents (in particular 'Standard Operating Procedure for the Operational Deployment of Protestor Liaison Teams' which contains a section on intelligence-gathering) may well be seen as providing confirmation of this view.

In his FOI request, Blowe asked for:

1. Policy and operational documents produced or adopted by the Metropolitan police relating to the role and function of police liaison officers.
2. Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) for police liaison officers.
3. Reporting procedures for police liaison officers, and their position in public order policing structures.
4. Procedures for the retention and sharing of information obtained by police liaison officers.
5. Training materials from the two-day training course for police liaison officers delivered for the Metropolitan Police by the National Policing Improvement Agency.

He received the following (pdfs):

  • Standard Operating Procedure for the Operational Deployment of Protestor Liaison Teams (PLT's) in the MPS
  • Police Liaison "Gateway" Team - aim and roles
  • Public Order Actions Book (original and reformatted for ease of reading)
  • Public Order Courses - Police Liaison Team Course
  • Public Order Command & Protest Liaison Teams (PLTs): Course Outline
  • Timetable - Protestor Liaison Officer Course
  • Presentation - Crowd Psychology and Communications
  • Presentation - Engagement and Involvement
  • Presentation - Human Rights
  • Presentation - Protestor Tactics - An Introduction for Police Liaison Teams
  • Police Liaison Team Officer Role Profile

    The response also noted that "the following publications may be of interest to you":

  • Dialogue Police, Decision Making and the Management of Public Order During Protest Crowd Events by Hugo Gorringe, Clifford Stott & Michael Rosie;
  • Advances in Liaison Based Public Order Policing in England: Human Rights and Negotiating the Management of Protest by Hugo Gorringe, Clifford Stott & Martin Scothern;
  • The Role of Crowd Theory in Determining the Use of Force in Public Order Policing by Clifford Stott & James Hoggett;
  • Crowd Psychology & Public Order: An Overview of Scientific Theory and Evidence by Clifford Stott.

    Further reading

  • Police Liaison Officers – Intelligence gathering, self-policing and the dangers of talking to the police, Network for Police Monitoring, 13 March 2013
  • The Intelligence Role of Police Liaison Officers, Network for Police Monitoring, 7 September 2012
  • Jason N. Parkinson, Police liaison officers accused of harassing activist – video, The Guardian, 4 September 2012

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