A very interesting comment amongst the ensuing discussion on this George Monbiot article in the Guardian.
An ex-police officer friend once explained to me how the police operate on this sort of protest. The first few days they have a ‘low key’ presence, they chat to protesters and try to gather as much intelligence they can, where protesters are from, the ‘leaders’ etc, they then take an harder line, test the water by trying to provoke little incidents to see what sort of response they get, before a planned direct action day the police will go through all their intelligence data and pick out their ‘targets’ these people are given names like ‘green hat’ ‘badges’ etc and these they will try an arrest on the day.
On the day of action there will be police within the ranks of the protesters they’re mainly there to pick out ‘green hat’ or ‘badges’, but sometimes they are there to provoke trouble, at a given signal they will start throwing missiles, my friend said a good thing to throw were marbles, they can be throw with reasonable accuracy over the heads of the police cordon, where they can be picked up and used has ‘evidence’.
He also told me how to find out how many people were protesting, you take the ‘official’ police figure and then the number given in a ‘trot paper’ and the real figure is the number between these two.