Last Saturday I took part in an Exercise at Gloucester North Warehouse which had been organised by Gloucester Safer Communities and was themed around what would happen if a far right organisation applied to have a protest march and rally in Gloucester. Just how would the communities work together and with the police and other agencies?
I have to admit that I could not stay for the whole event, I went in for the morning and had to disappear just after lunch. But int hat morning we got a briefing from the police and Safer Communities team about what were there to achieve, and then briefed on the first bit of exercise and then in our groups we discussed what we would expect from the police in terms of action and also information.
For me, this was a really good event, not only because of the better understanding of the police powers and how they view all these type of events, but also to talk to other community organisations and see how their needs are similar in some ways, but also different in others.
ON the face of it, Kingsway could be seen as not very relevent tot a march in the city centre, but for me it was the more knock on effects on services like policing. IE if they all went to the City Centre to support the main action, would that make us vulnerable. How do we deal with the troublemakers that may be in the city centre but come from our own communities? How can we support the communities that have been hit by issues? Not surprisingly a lot of the actual experience discussion came from the recent riots. It was quite good to have Cllr Kathy Williams on our table as she could give us her experience in that riot and the actions she and the other people took in the very early hours to set about “putting it right”.
A great success on both understanding what happens, but also to really boost communications between the many organisations that exist within the local area. I would look forward to doing another one.