Dec 11 2010
DETECTIVES plan to smash the hard core of student riot militants with a huge trawl of CCTV and television footage.
As the clearing up began after the third demo to rock central London in a month, the major operation began.
Officers will view footage of trouble at all three marches, including the Millbank riot in which Tory HQ was stormed, to identify individuals who appear more than once.
They will also monitor websites and forums where activists might boast about their actions.
Senior officers have vowed to get the ringleaders off the streets to prevent more mayhem in future.
The three demos so far have caused more than £1million worth of damage and up to 3000 officers were tied up in Thursday’s operation.
The latest protest shut down Parliament Square for hours and saw trouble spread across central London.
And insiders admit the protests will soon begin to strain the force’s finances.
One source said: “There is a recognition that this can not go on indefinitely. If there are people trying to undermine lawful protest, they have got to be stopped before things get out of control”.
The police revealed their new plan of action as deputy PM Nick Clegg faced a fight for his political life on the issue of tuition fees.
Activists are calling on him to quit and the National Union of Students say they will use new legislation to force by-elections in Lib Dem seats.
Rank-and-file party members tore up their membership cards in a furious backlash against Clegg’s decision to abandon their manifesto pledge to fight any rise in fees.
Sue Gymer, a party official in Cambridgeshire, said she and others were preparing a leadership challenge.
And she labelled Clegg’s decision to go back on his promise as “morally wrong”.
She added: “We stood for fairness, we stood for honesty and the other parties regularly do U-turns but the Lib Dems promised not to.”
Detectives probing Thursday’s trouble are particularly keen to pinpoint who manipulated the crowd after it refused to move along its agreed route past Parliament.
They are liaising with the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, who gather intelligence on animal rights activists, anarchists and criminal groups who may have infiltrated the protests.
Officers yesterday continued to question 34 people arrested for offences including arson, burglary, assault and criminal damage. They are particularly keen to catch the yobs who sprayed graffiti and urinated on the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.
The thugs who torched the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and ran riot through shoppers on Oxford Street will also be targeted.
Shops along the road have their own CCTV cameras and the police are expected to release dozens of photographs of suspects.
At least 43 protesters were taken to hospital and nine police officers. Last night, an inquiry was under way into how a 20-year-old student was left unconscious and bleeding from the brain after being hit by a truncheon.
Alfie Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, needed a three-hour operation.
He was struck as he tried to leave an area where protesters were being held in a “kettling” operation.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission are handling the inquiry.