Thirty years ago:
“At one point the police surrounded a coach and it stopped. A woman inside stood up and held her baby up – in a very melodramatic fashion, you wouldn’t normally hold a baby that way for fear of dropping it. But she did. She yelled at the police that there was a baby on board. “There was a pause of about five seconds, then from the back of the police ranks, whistling over our heads came a very large flint that exploded the windscreen over the baby.” Yet that was not the worst thing [the Earl of Cardigan] says he saw that day. “At some point in the crazy melee there was a heavily pregnant woman wandering around. Two policemen came up behind her with batons and clubbed her around the head and shoulders, and down she went.”
These were travellers going to the Stonehenge Solstice festival in 1985, attacked by the Wiltshire Police. The police attacked the convoy using “police tactics used in the miners’ strike to prevent a breach of the peace” (such as mounted South Yorkshire Police attacking picketing miners in Orgreave, on 18th June 1984).
Ten years ago, in 2005, Tony Thompson, the Guardian’s crime correspondent, wrote with apparently sincere bafflement:
It remains a mystery why the police felt compelled to use such violence. With evidence that radio logs of conversations between officers on the day have been altered, the full story may never be known.
The Guardian has been doing a series of anonymous articles, subtitled The letter you always wanted to write. No one is named in any of the letters.
The letter published today is from a man in his early 20s, about an event from about six years ago: it’s directed to “the girl who accused me of rape when I was 15.”
Norman Bettison resigned yesterday and Mervyn Barrett withdrew from campaigning to be Police Commissioner of Lincolnshire.
Norman Bettison received the Queen’s Police Medal in the Birthday Honours 2000: he was knighted in 2006. He was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in 1993, he became Chief Constable of Merseyside Police in 1998, he retired from the police in January 2005 to become the CEO of Centrex, which was
“responsible for overseeing the design and delivery of probationer training, investigators training and other key areas. Centrex was also responsible for evaluating police training to see if it actually works. Centrex also set the national police promotion exams, probationer development tests and advised on the assessment of recruits.” (Wikipedia)
Norman Bettison moved on from Centrex in January 2007 to become what he was until yesterday: Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. He resigned, saying an inquiry into his actions after the Hillsborough disaster was “a distraction” to the force. I’m sure that hoping to save his pension was in no way concerned.