This paper reports on innovations in public order policing during the protests surrounding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, November 2009. When masked anarchist protesters determined to ‘smash NATO’ gathered on the streets on the first morning of the Assembly, they were initially confronted by three plainclothes police negotiators rather than a line of riot police. In this paper, we draw on empirical data to offer an analysis of these developments and gauge the extent to which they meet the stated intentions of the police to ‘facilitate lawful protest’. Whilst welcoming the shift in attitudes and approach towards political protest, we argue that the accent on facilitation in this operation ultimately appeared neither innovative nor effective in practice and frequently reverted to styles of policing designed to contain protest.
- negotiated management