LONDON - Scotland Yard is to deploy officers armed with 50,000-volt Taser stun guns to deal with violent demonstrators planning to disrupt this week's G20 summit in London.
The centrepiece of the security plan will be hundreds of officers from the Metropolitan police territorial support group, who are routinely armed with speedcuffs, extended batons and CS gas spray.
The Met confirmed yesterday that they will be supported by officers equipped with Tasers on stand-by should trouble break out.
"There will be an armed response vehicle element to this operation and [those officers] will be carrying Tasers," said a spokeswoman.
The Met's admission that Tasers could be used for the first time in the UK during riots came as protest groups claimed police had contacted them to warn that a day of protest in the City on Wednesday would be "very violent".
All police leave has been cancelled and 10,500 officers, including reinforcements from other forces, will be deployed in the biggest policing operation undertaken in London.
Demonstrations intended to bring the capital's financial centre to a standstill on Wednesday and disruption to the G20 summit at the ExCel centre in Docklands on Thursday will provide the first big test for Sir Paul Stephenson, the new Met commissioner. He will be aware that the protests provide an opportunity to show the world that London is up to the security and public order challenges of the 2012 Olympics.
With yesterday's TUC march, a state visit from the president of Mexico tomorrow and the arrival of 40 delegations including 19 heads of state for the G20 summit on Thursday, the week presents a series of complex operational challenges the like of which the Met has not seen in recent history. The organisers of the protests - an alliance of environmental campaigners, anti-capitalist and religious groups - insist they will be peaceful. However, police fear that anarchist elements are likely to stir up trouble.
Police expect up to 1,500 protesters to converge on the Bank of England on Wednesday. At 12.30pm, other demonstrators are expected to "swoop" on the European Climate Exchange centre in Bishopsgate, where they plan to erect pop-up tents, makeshift toilets and even a bicycle-powered cinema, marking the start of a 24-hour Climate Camp.
London Anarchists: have appealed for people to join in "direct action" similar to that seen at previous anti-globalisation protests
Whitechapel Anarchists: London group which praised the attack on the home of Sir Fred Goodwin, the disgraced bank boss
Class War: veteran anarchists who are encouraging supporters to "burn a banker"
G20 Meltdown: A new organisation which will host a carnival at the Bank of England
Climate Camp: environmentalists behind direct action at Heathrow airport and power stations in North Yorkshire and Kent
Climate Rush: group against airport expansion who have "rushed" parliament
People and Planet: student network campaigning to end world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment
Stop the War Coalition and CND: anti-war protesters against Iraq and Afghanistan wars