Over the past month, British students have repeatedly taken to the streets in large and raucous marches to protest huge increases in higher education tuition. In response, the government may now outlaw student demonstrations. Clearly, the message is that young people are not supposed to be civically engaged, the Telegraph reports:
Police may ban anti-Government marches through central London to prevent further disorder and strain on officer numbers.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said that outlawing the demonstrations was an option for the authorities but conceded it could anger protesters further.
He admitted he was “very worried” about the effect on law and order in town centers and suburbs caused by large numbers of officers being sent to the center of the capital.
Despite widespread criticism over the policing of the protests, and warnings that the Met’s tactics risk leading to the death of an innocent bystander, Sir Paul said he was proud of the professionalism of the 3,000 officers on duty last week.
It emerged that 182 people, most aged between 17 and 25, have been arrested in four demonstrations against state spending cuts and the planned rise in university tuition fees over the past month, with many of them described as ordinary students who did not set out to take part in riots and had not been in trouble before.
Speaking at New Scotland Yard, he said there was a “stark contrast” between the violent scenes in Westminster and homes with crying parents and shocked young people when police arrived.
He added: “I would urge those who turn up for protests to think about the impact this could have on their future careers.”
Asked at the press conference if the Met would consider banning future marches, Sir Paul replied: “That’s one of the options we have got. Banning is a very difficult step to take, these are very balanced judgments.