Nod for London police to use rubber bullets on student protesters

November 9th, 2011 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 8 (IANS) Students protesting in central London Wednesday over hiked university fees run the risk of getting shot at by rubber bullets, the police said Tuesday.

A police spokesman told Xinhua that rubber bullets and armoured cars are in readiness, and will be used “only in the most extreme circumstances.” Another 4,000 officers will be on duty to police the demonstration.

The students are set to march from the university area around Bloomsbury to the financial area around Moorgate, covering about four km, in protest at increased university tuition fees and government budget cuts.

If the Metropolitan Police (The Met), London’s police force, uses the rubber bullets, it will be the first time on the British mainland for dealing with riots.

The Met had authorisation to use rubber bullets during the widespread rioting of Aug 6-9, after losing control of parts of London and other cities in England, but did not use them.

Rubber bullets have been used frequently by police and the British army in Northern Ireland since the early 1970s, and have been a controversial weapon for crowd control, cited by the British Journal of Surgery as the cause of death of at least one protester up to 1975 and causing disability or deformity in 17 others.

Despite changes in manufacturing rubber bullets over the years, the British medical magazine The Lancet published a report in 2001 linking them to the deaths of three Palestinian protesters at the hands of the Israeli security forces in early October 2000.

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