UK ‘should learn from se­cu­rity lapse’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

LONDON: Bri­tish of­fi­cials de­fended the coun­try’s se­cu­rity prac­tices yes­ter­day af­ter ram­pag­ing stu­dent pro­test­ers at­tacked a car car­ry­ing Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

The chief of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice pledged to launch a full and de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent, in which pro­test­ers set upon the heir to the throne’s Rolls Royce as it drove through London’s busy West End on Thurs­day night to go to a char­ity event.

Stu­dents had poured into cen­tral London to protest against sharp rises in uni­ver­sity tu­ition fees as MPs de­bated and passed the bill in Par­lia­ment. Most of the stu­dents were herded by po­lice with riot shields into con­tained ar­eas, but many groups broke free and ram­paged through some of the city’s most fa­mous shop­ping ar­eas.

A group of up to 20 pro­test­ers, some chant­ing “Off with their heads”, smashed one of the royal cou­ple’s rear car win­dows and splashed white paint on the ve­hi­cle. Charles and Camilla were vis­i­bly shaken, but un­harmed.

The se­cu­rity breach is par­tic­u­larly em­bar­rass­ing for po­lice and the royal house­hold in the run-up to Prince Wil­liam’s wed­ding on April 29, rais­ing ques­tions over whether or not se­cu­rity pro­to­cols need to be re­viewed.

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said po­lice must learn from the lapse in se­cu­rity but not be blamed for it, in­sist­ing that pro­test­ers should feel “the full force of the law”.

“Let’s be very clear about where re­spon­si­bil­ity lies,” said Cameron, speak­ing in Down­ing Street. “Re­spon­si­bil­ity for smash­ing prop­erty, or vi­o­lence, lies with the peo­ple who per­pe­trate that vi­o­lence and I want to see them ar­rested and pun­ished in the cor­rect way.”

The premier shrugged off claims that vi­o­lence was limited to a hand­ful of pro­test­ers, say­ing “there were quite a num­ber of peo­ple who clearly were there want­ing to pur­sue vi­o­lence and de­stroy prop­erty”.

Metropoli­tan Po­lice Chief Paul Stephen­son com­mended of­fi­cers for their brav­ery and said the nearly 3 000-strong con­tin­gent of of­fi­cers out to deal with Thurs­day’s protests showed com­mend­able re­straint in deal­ing with the “dread­ful” ac­tions of “thugs”.

Po­lice said 34 pro­test­ers were ar­rested.

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