Skip Navigation | Sheffield IMC | UK IMC | Editorial Guidelines | Mission Statement | About Us | Contact | Help | Support Us

UK Indymedia UK Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia Sheffield Indymedia

A brief history of “kettling” and why The Police Riot. | 28.11.2010 05:13 | Analysis | Policing | Repression | Sheffield

Following the events of the least few weeks we need to take time to re read:

The police tactic of “kettling” was first used at N30, the anti-WTO summit protest at Euston station, London, November 1999. It was introduced after the disastrous policing efforts during J18 (Carnival Against Capital) some months previously where anti-capitalists and anarchist demonstrators roamed free throughout the city of London causing mayhem as part of the global protests against the G8 summit.

The process of kettling involves lines of police forcefully corralling people together into a space then surrounding the whole group on all sides preventing them from leaving the cordoned-in area. Any attempt by people to leave the cordon would result in physically being attacked (usually with batons, often riot shields, boots and fists) in order to preserve the kettle. Detention in this manner would last several hours. After people have become bored, tired and cold they would be released in a controlled fashion, usually one person at a time, after being searched, photographed and had their names and addresses taken.

So successful was the kettling tactic it was implemented at all future potentially inflammatory ‘mass demonstrations’ as a method of controlling, subduing and ultimately criminalising protestors. (Early kettling procedure went hand in hand with the misuse of ’section 60′ order whereby police took the personal details and pictures of all those in the kettle for their database).

Although not defined in law (it still is simply a police tactic) it was given the green light by the High Court after some protestors questioned the legality of their seven hour kettling in Oxford Circus on Mayday 2001. The courts ruled that the police could under certain circumstances detain people against their will for long periods of time to prevent outbreaks of violence and criminal acts – and typically a breach of the peace. The example they gave was the detaining of football supporters in the ground while opposing fans left the area.

In terms of the practicalities of the law it’s an absolute sham and the judges who made the ruling know they got away with a large dose of bullshit. But it also meant the police could continue the tactic along with all the violence and thuggery that goes with it under the protection of the law.

The anarchist group the Wombles developed a strategy (borrowed heavily from the Italian radical left movement Tutte Bianche) of wearing padding and protective headgear and using re-enforced banners to break through police lines on demonstrations.

While this proved very effective in the short term – the police had no idea how to handle such a disregard from their authority, it had to rely on everyone else adopting the same strategy of forcefully breaking out of the kettle to be truly successful. In the end it was seen as vanguardist (by the left, without a hint of irony) or too specialised to be universally adopted by everyone.

The real purpose of the kettle is to ensure people are dissuaded enough not to attend future protests – the law of diminishing returns – which actually succeeded throughout much of the 2000s. This generation of protestors from what we’ve seen, aren’t going to be that easily put off.

Implications of “kettling” and the contradiction of European human rights legislation:

Why the police riot?


Suggest to the ordinary “man in the street” the notion that this country’s well along the path to becoming a police state and likely as not he’ll laugh at you.

Download this article in pdf format >>

Email this article to someone >>

Submit an addition or make a quick comment on this article >>


Display the following 3 comments

  1. is this a new tactic — Peter Loo
  2. Kettling, cops used for years in Germany — @
  3. Guide to Public Order Situations — EF!er


Publish your news

Do you need help with publishing?


South Coast

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
Northern Indymedia

Sheffield Topics

Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements

Sheffield [navigation.actions2015]

Sheffield [navigation.actions2014]

NATO 2014

Sheffield Actions 2013

G8 2013

Sheffield Actions 2012


Sheffield Actions 2011

2011 Census Resistance
August Riots
Dale Farm
J30 Strike
Occupy Everywhere

Sheffield Actions 2010

Flotilla to Gaza
Mayday 2010
Tar Sands

Sheffield Actions 2009

COP15 Climate Summit 2009
G20 London Summit
Indymedia Server Seizure
University Occupations for Gaza

Sheffield Actions 2008

2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces
Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco
Climate Camp 2008
G8 Japan 2008
Smash EDO
Stop Sequani Animal Testing
Stop the BNP's Red White and Blue festival

Sheffield Actions 2007

Climate Camp 2007
DSEi 2007
G8 Germany 2007
Mayday 2007
No Border Camp 2007

Sheffield Actions 2006

April 2006 No Borders Days of Action
Art and Activism Caravan 2006
Climate Camp 2006
French CPE uprising 2006
G8 Russia 2006
Lebanon War 2006
March 18 Anti War Protest
Mayday 2006
Oaxaca Uprising
Refugee Week 2006
Rossport Solidarity
Transnational Day of Action Against Migration Controls
WSF 2006

Sheffield Actions 2005

DSEi 2005
G8 2005
WTO Hong Kong 2005

Sheffield Actions 2004

European Social Forum
FBI Server Seizure
May Day 2004

Sheffield Actions 2003

Bush 2003
DSEi 2003
Evian G8
May Day 2003
No War F15
Saloniki Prisoner Support
Thessaloniki EU
WSIS 2003

Server Appeal Radio Page Video Page Indymedia Cinema Offline Newsheet

insecure Unencrypted Page

We suggest you use an encrypted connection encrypted connection for browsing this site.

Please install the CAcert root certificate to verify the authenticity of the site, for more information see the security page.