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The 'cunning plan' for policing student protests

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Martin Rosenbaum | 12:50 UK time, Friday, 11 March 2011

As the BBC has reported this morning, a Metropolitan Police senior officer preparing for the student protests against tuition fees last December had what he considered a "cunning plan".

Police officers stand in Parliament Square

Whether Baldrick would have done a better job than the Police then did of protecting the car carrying the heir to the throne and his wife is not known. But given what happened, it has proved to be a very unfortunate choice of comedic reference.

The cunning plan developed by the Police consisted of "flexibility", according to the internal briefing paper received by the BBC through a freedom of information request.

If you want to read the entire document, it's here [264KB PDF]. A small word of warning: you may feel disturbed if you have a sensitive disposition when it comes to spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and strange jargon (officers are warned to avoid negative photo opportunities such as drinking coffee while "embussed").

Our FOI application also obtained the Police tactical plan [664KB PDF] for the first student demonstration on 10 November, which resulted in extensive damage to the building housing the Conservative party headquarters.

This plan shows how the Police apparently failed to consider any possibility that the Tory offices could become a target for demonstrators, even though they knew the protest route would go past that building. The Police instead focused on protecting the Palace of Westminster and government buildings such as the Department for Education.

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