Policing democratic freedoms Page 105 demands detailed planning, well-trained staff, adequate equipment and sufficient flexibility to be able to respond to new situations as they arise, often without any forewarning. These difficulties are heightened by the fact that the police are not required to merely respond to events; they are required to ensure that peaceful assembly is protected. This may require proactive steps to safeguard the enjoyment of these rights. All police officers should receive training in applicable human rights standards. This training should focus on the need to ensure that police operations are planned and controlled in such a manner as to minimise the likelihood of recourse to lethal force 313 , to ensure that any force used is lawful and the minimum necessary in the circumstances, and to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly and related rights are upheld. Police officers who are responsible for commanding public order operations should have appropriate training and experience. 314 Police officers commanding public order operations should consider the implications of any use of force, and should always ensure that all policing decisions are taken on the basis of the requirement to minimise the use of force. Relations with the public Successful public order policing can only be carried out with the support and co-operation, to the greatest extent possible, of the community. Police should make every effort to secure and retain this support. Links with the community are invaluable in providing information regarding tensions and potential problems, as well as in reducing any existing tensions and resolving difficult situations. Engagement with the public should not occur only in times of tension or disorder, but should be an on-going process. In this way, durable relationships will be established with the community, which can assist in times of difficulty. Police should communicate with all persons affected by public order operations. Communication during events can reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and hostility towards others and the police. Technical means to facilitate this should be available. Policing public order and community policing are closely linked. Patrolling by local police officers, with detailed knowledge of the specific nature of an area, should be maintained at all times. They are the officers who are required to police areas after disorder occurs. They can also be a very effective 313 McCann and Others v the United Kingdom, judgment of 27 September 1995. 314 Andronicou and Constantinou v Cyprus, judgment of 9 October 1997.
The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 106 ‘early-warning’ system for tensions that may exist. Normal community policing should be the day-to-day reality and public order policing should support it, not undermine it. This should be considered when deciding to intervene in any situation where public order has been disrupted. Police actions during public order situations must be lawful and proportionate. 315 Excessive force can damage relations with the community and make the work of the police more difficult in the long term. It corrodes the relationship between the police and the public and can lead to a breakdown of trust and communication. Police should be approachable and accessible during public order operations, subject to safety considerations. They should be capable of entering into dialogue and negotiations with participants in, and those affected by, public assemblies. Police should inform, as far as possible, the public of their plans, so that the scope for misunderstanding police action is reduced. Efforts should be made to establish and maintain links with those affected by public order situations, such as participants and local residents. Communications with the public should be made in plain language and be planned and co-ordinated, in order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Police powers (e.g. use of force, arrest, criminal investigation) Every exercise of police powers, in relation to any aspect of their involvement with public order operations, must be done in an appropriate and proportionate manner. Powers of intervention should be considered optional, and not mandatory. If a situation arises where police have powers of intervention, these should not automatically be used. The use of powers of intervention can often inflame situations, thus leading to higher levels of tension and increasing the scope for violence. Levels of confidence in the police can also be reduced. If violations of the law are observed by the police during assemblies, consideration should be given to whether action needs to be taken immediately, or whether action can be taken after the assembly has ended. Police should ensure that, in the event that measures need to be taken in relation to public assembly, they are targeted against the persons responsible, and that nonparticipants are unaffected, to the extent that this is possible. The use of violence by a small minority in a larger, peaceful, assembly does not justify the 315 P.F and E.F v the United Kingdom, decision of 23 November 2010.