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A Cop's Guide to Protests

A few tips for all our disgruntled guardians who are striking in London today.

by Simon Childs
10 May 2012, 7:00am

You know what? The police aren't all that different from you and I. Are you a raver? Then congrats, you share a taste for fluorescent clothing. Like telling people what to do? Hi, mum! Enjoy the nice, comforting feel of a truncheon's weight straining gently at your lower arm muscles? Welcome to the male race. Which is why today, Thursday the 10th of May, no one should be at all surprised that the British police are taking to the streets to register their disillusion with their government paymasters.

The Police Federation – basically a trade union for cops – have announced that they will hold a rally to “highlight the unprecedented attack on policing by this government and the consequences these cuts will have on public safety”. If you think about it, thousands of police storm-trooping through the streets of Central London makes perfect sense. Just because they've spent a lot of time clubbing anti-cuts protesters to within an inch of their lives over the past year or so, doesn’t mean they can’t be pissed off about austerity too.

But while the police are no strangers to protests, they are new to doing the complaining. With that in mind, let’s lay down a few ground rules – rules being to your average policeman what cocaine is to an estate agent who can't stop dreaming about death.

Getting the Protester "Look"

Famously, anarchists like to pretend that all coppers are bastards. But really you're just normal Weetabix-eating, bus-riding, state-hating guys like the rest of us, right? Think all those years in uniform may have scrambled your fashion radar? Well, here’s what some of your fellow police officers look like hanging out at a student demonstration:

See. They could hardly be more at ease. To me, they look indistinguishable from virtually any budding revolutionary I’ve ever met. One of them has even got one of those Palestinian scarves that Topshop coopted about 15 years ago. These four should be an example to you all. I can’t believe they’re not legit!

Remaining Incognito

Just because you've switched sides, doesn't mean you're still not a team. As such, your own need to settle the personal grudge you have against the world comes a distant second to the demands of the collective. So walk in small, compact groups, like hunted animals. Don't go charging off on your own to give hell to bus stops and shop windows, because doing that will justify an indiscriminate and unnecessarily violent police crackdown against all of you.

I know this might seem annoying and restrictive, but who knows, maybe there are those among you who have some past experience of acting like a homogenised group of impersonal, totalitarian automatons.


It’s fine to piss at a protest. Police horses do it all the time, and the government hasn’t quite succeeded in ensuring humans have fewer rights than animals yet. However, why settle for pissing on any old wall? You get bonus points for pissing on a symbolic target, like this guy:

Take that, decadent, environmentally damaging, aristo-car! Actually, nothing seems to be coming out of him. He’s just got his crusty willy out and is pointing it in the general direction of a limo – in all likelihood, one that's holding more women on a hen night than distant relatives of the royal family. The crowd around him think they’re cheering on an act of righteous urination, but in fact he is a sex pest. Gross. Don't do this, police! You might get arrested, put in jail and then subjected to a completely fair and unbiased trial.

Staying Safe

Things might get nasty, so make sure you pack adequate medical supplies, such as a cloroform-soaked rag to stuff in your nose when it all gets too much. Why not attach it to yourself with some industrial-strength duct tape that will rip the skin clean off your face when you (or some counter-protesters, IDK) try to remove it? Don't worry, you can always bring one of these along to preserve your modesty:

Staying Warm

Feeling a bit chilly? No problem. We’ve got marshmallows, some left-wing pamphlets and an acoustic guitar that an Occupy protester will never get to play "Kumbaya" on. All we need is warmth, baby. Strike a light! Just keep a safe distance and remember that revolutionary socialist propaganda burns better than leaflets from the Labour Party, which tend to be a bit wet. (Satire!!!)


Whatever you do, stay away from them. They've been the rowdiest guys at any protest I've ever been to, always getting tied up and thrown in the back of a van while shouting their bloody heads off! As you can see in the picture above.

Follow Simon Childs on Twitter: @simonchilds13

Stay tuned to for a photo report from today's police protests. Maybe the police will kettle the police!