When the G7 Summit rolls into Cornwall next month it is expected that it will also attract a number of protests from people keen to catch the attention of world leaders and the international media.

Devon and Cornwall Police have now detailed how they will be trying to balance the rights of people to protest at the G7 Summit with the rights of people in Cornwall to go about their everyday lives.

More than 30 groups have been identified as planning some kind of protests and demonstrations during the event.

Ahead of the summit, which takes place in Carbis Bay next month, specialist officers gave details of how they will be policing any protests which might happen around the event.

However police stressed that while there could be a “small minority” aiming to cause disruption most protesters would be looking to demonstrate peacefully.

Inspector Nathan Johnson, from the force’s specialist operations department, said: “We have the right to protest, which is enshrined in the Human Rights Act, and I am always balancing that right – it’s part of our very fabric here in the UK, that right to protest, but also your right to go about your daily business.

“This event will see us balancing – and not always getting it right – but balancing that right of people who feel so energised they come to Cornwall, that they know there is a unique opportunity for them to have their voice heard by the world’s media, and I suppose people are hoping by the G7 leaders. But also to balance Cornwall and their right to go about their life, businesses are just opening up after lockdown and people are looking to open up and do well this summer.”


He added: “Really the victim in all of this, if they do block a road, or do something like a 'lock on' or chain themselves to a vehicle, and block some of our main arterial routes, won’t be the summit because the summit will continue anyway – it will actually be the people of Devon and Cornwall."

Insp Johnson said that it was key to remember that most protesters are responsible and just want to make their voices heard and not cause problems.

“We’re not there to police them, we’re there to police the very small minority who are very keen to gum up or disrupt this event.

“We want to allow people to peaceful protest and actually sometimes those who are trying to disrupt the event stop that peaceful protest."

Thousands of officers from all over the country will be coming to Cornwall to help with the policing event but Insp Johnson stressed there was no such thing as a riot officer and all will be normal officers who have additional training to deal with protests.

He said: “Devon and Cornwall Police, as every police force does, has officers who can deal with public disorder, we can deal with protests and can deal with big crowds, but they are still just your normal cops.

“And it will be the same when people come down to Cornwall; they may say Merseyside on the side of their van or it may say Kent, but there is no such thing as a full time riot cop in the UK, these are just normal cops who have volunteered for extra duty.”

Some examples of devices used by protesters to \lock on\ at demonstrations (Image: LDRS/Richard Whitehouse)

Some examples of devices used by protesters to \"lock on\" at demonstrations (Image: LDRS/Richard Whitehouse)

Police also showed some examples of devices which are built by protesters looking to disrupt events which enable them to “lock on” and try and prevent police removing them if they are blocking a road.

These included drainpipes which had been reinforced with concrete and chicken wire ,which protesters would then lock themselves to.

Inspector Johnson said that these “complex devices” were used by activists looking to cause disruption and to slow down police when they are blocking roads.

He said: “These people will be going a step beyond peaceful protest and are there to cause problems and this is where we have lock ons.

“When this happens at no point are we stopping people protesting – but by locking yourself on a road and blocking it for six hours, that is wrong.”

Insp Johnson said that in those situations police liaison officers, who are specially trained, will look to negotiate with protesters who are blocking routes.

He said that they would ask them to move and explain that they can continue to protest but it must be at the side of the road.

Further attempts will be made to ask them to move themselves before it will be explained that what they are doing is against the law and that they will be arrested if they don’t move.

Only then will a decision be made by the police to move the protester themselves.

Insp Johnson said that lock-ons can range from people super-gluing themselves to things, using bike locks to attach themselves to things or vehicles or the handmade lock on devices.

It was explained that Devon and Cornwall Police officers have extensive experience of dealing with protests and large crowds with officers having attended the London riots, the recent protests in Bristol as well as policing large scale events like Boardmasters and Glastonbury.