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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Herts officer faced hundreds of protesters during mutual aid operation

19 April 2021

A Hertfordshire Police Federation member has told how he faced hundreds of activists after being deployed on mutual aid to support fellow officers in Bristol.

Stuart Fraser, who has volunteered to help provide mutual aid for the past 15 years, most recently found himself working alongside colleagues in Avon and Somerset earlier this month during the demonstrations in the city.

Stuart has described the “tiring” day as “interesting” having taken to the streets at 10am on day and finishing at 4am the following morning.

“I was keen to assist my colleagues in Avon and Somerset who had been policing a large-scale disorder in Bristol over a number of days and nights in late March, and support them using my public order skills,” added Stuart, who has been a police officer for 22 years and qualified as a public order officer in 2005.

“Together with the Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk forces, Hertfordshire officers were deployed in central Bristol in the vicinity of the Bridewell Police Station that had previously been attacked by protesters and to standby while a protest group of around 2,000 marched past the station,” explains Stuart, who is a qualified Level 2 PSU officer.

Later in the day, they were deployed as PSU arrest teams to seize protesters who were failing to disperse from Baldwin Street.

“One arrest was made by Hertfordshire officers out of seven that night,” added Stuart, a PC on the cross-border crime Mobile Support Team.

“I’ve put myself forward for several mutual aid operations throughout my career, mostly local to neighbouring forces for football matches and street protests,” he says.

In 2016, he spent a week supporting Devon and Cornwall Police during a large-scale operation involving weapons and explosives buried by Ciaran Maxwell, a former marine who is currently serving an 18-year sentence after admitting a number of charges linked to terrorism.

Three years later Stuart was deployed to London for a week-long stint supporting the Metropolitan Police in response to the Extinction Rebellion protests. 

“There, we were used in frontline roles dealing with protesters and crowds during the protests in Trafalgar Square, Kensington and Chelsea,” he said.

When asked whether he would put himself forward for any future mutual aid deployments, Stuart said “definitely”.

He added: “I would encourage officers to consider training as a PSU Level 2 officer as it is a very interesting and rewarding role and allows you to see how policing is undertaken in different parts of the country.”

 

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