Police determined to prevent violence against pro-lifers at this year’s Australian March for the Babies
Police have promised more resources will be devoted to respond to interference from counter-protesters at the March for the Babies in Melbourne on Saturday. This comes after the violence endured by the pro-life march participants in 2013.
Police had been criticised for standing by and allowing the violence to take place in plain view, making no arrests on the day. In the aftermath of the violence, almost 200 individuals wrote to the Police Commissioner asking for an investigation.
That resulted in a protracted investigation led by Superintendent Tony de Ridder from the Conduct and Professional Standards Division within the Victoria Police, who told LifeSiteNews the number of complaints he received about the march was “unprecedented.”
“Victoria Police have taken all that very seriously and the planning for the 2014 [march] we hope will reflect that fact,” he said.
According to the official letter of reply authored by de Ridder, the resulting investigation by Victoria Police revealed “failings in intelligence, planning, and responding” to events on the day. Police had also reviewed footage from the day, including video shot by LifeSiteNews, in an effort to identify offenders. While some assaults were captured on video footage, no offenders have been identified.
Police said the biggest issue on the day was that they lacked the resources to make arrests. Each arrest and removal of an individual requires three or four officers, removing them for a time from their greater task of keeping the two groups separated. The decision on the day to not make arrests was made in order to maintain police numbers and therefore prevent an even worse confrontation from developing.
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In the letter, de Ridder offered not only his sincere apologies, but also “a strong acknowledgement that we got it wrong, coupled with a determination to get it right this year.”
Speaking to LifeSiteNews, de Ridder went on to say, “The lessons learned in 2013 have seen Victoria Police put more work in to planning a better, safer March For The Babies for 2014.”
The police have been working towards this since the 2013 march, and it was “evident that they needed more people because of the large turnout for this event” he said.
Police have also worked closely with the organizing committee for the March For The Babies, even going so far as to suggest that the march should be held on Grand Final day so that counter-protester numbers are minimized. This suggestion was rejected in good humour by Bernie Finn MP who is well known to all as a fanatical supporter of Australian Rules football. (Finn has previously gone as far as to wear a custom made suit, in his team's colours, to parliamentary sittings.)
Police remain interested in receiving videos from the public should any incidents occur this year.