The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said the two large-scale student demonstrations of in recent weeks had been marred by previously unseen levels of violence, adding: ‘The game has changed’.
London Fire Brigade head of comms Richard Stokoe said: ‘When over the last year many of our European neighbours have experienced social unrest way beyond what we have seen in the UK, the commissioners comments could ring true. However, the British style of demonstration is very different to that of France and more akin to Ireland where there has been protest but very little violence.
‘Sir Paul didn't go too far. But why a few students protesting in Whitehall demonstrates that in his words 'the game has changed' is slightly puzzling.’
But Westminster City Council director of strategy and comms Alex Aiken said that he accepted Stephenson’s comments and would act accordingly.
‘I think it's something the Metropolitan Police Commissioner can say,’ said Aiken. ‘As a public authority we hear what they say and act accordingly.’
Stephenson made his comments at a meeting of London's Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).
‘We have been going through a period where we have not seen that sort of violent disorder,’ said Stephenson.
‘We had dealt with student organisers before and I think we based it too much on history. If we follow an intelligence-based model that stops you doing that. Obviously you realise the game has changed. Regrettably, the game has changed and we must act.’