Anti-cuts march: police prepare for violent minority

Police chiefs believe “a small but significant minority” will try to hijack Saturday’s march in London against government cuts to stage violent attacks on property and the police.

The Metropolitan police, under fire for its use of kettling in previous protests, is deploying new tactics for an expected turnout of 100,000 to 300,000 people in the biggest protest in eight years.

Analysts will be used to monitor live CCTV footage if groups are detained by police. They will tell officers on the ground which protesters are not suspected of violence and can be let go and which are suspected of criminality and should continue to be detained.

A senior Met source, involved in the planning for the march, told the Guardian: “Some people on Saturday will try to use the event for their own ends or violence.” However he said the Met had no solid intelligence that groups were trying to cause violence and described much of the “chatter” on the internet and in leaflets as aspirational.

“There are people who will turn up and if the opportunity arises, will resort to something that may lead to violence or damage. Some want to occupy buildings and that is an offence,” he said.

In separate comments, the Met’s former head of counter-terrorism, Andy Hayman, claimed to have “strong intelligence” that extremist groups were planning illegal acts at the march and rally on Saturday. He accused the police of failing to act pre-emptively to avoid violence, saying they “prefer to deal with things on the day”.

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