Sometimes, during protests or other crowd gatherings, law enforcement officials use a crowd control technique known as kettling. This technique is also sometimes known as corralling or containment, and it involves police herding protesters, or other members of a crowd, towards one certain area. Sometimes these crowds can be held for hours, which denies them certain rights and privileges. This crowd management technique has been scrutinized in a number of countries, and some citizens have even brought lawsuits against local law enforcement officials who use kettling.
Kettling gets it name from the idea that steam is confined to one small area in a tea kettle. It was first developed and used by German law enforcement officials in 1986. During a protest against nuclear devices in Hamburg, German law enforcement officials used kettling to try to contain roughly 800 people.
During kettling, a line of law enforcement officials usually tries to force a crowd to a certain designated area. It is often likened to herding cattle to a certain spot in a field. Sometimes the crowd is pushed back, and sometimes the crowd is forced to stay in one certain area for hours. During this time, the members of the crowd are typically denied any privileges such as water, food, or bathrooms. The idea behind the concept is that the protesters will grow so weary that the only energy they have left will be concentrated toward giving up and going home.
In addition to other tactics, sometimes the police officers involved in the kettling will use other riot and crowd control methods to drive the crowds where they want them. The use of police batons and other violent riot tactics are not uncommon when it comes to kettling. Many law enforcement officials whot have used this tactic have been criticized, and some have even been sued.
During the May Day Riots of 2001, London police officials attempted to control the crowd in the streets by using kettling. They held the crowd for hours, and some innocent bystanders were also trapped along with the protesters. Two people tried to sue the police department, but lost in 2005. They appealed their case, but lost that as well.
In 2002, during a protest against nuclear devices, German police also used kettling to control the crowd. One woman sued the police, stating that she was not allowed access to a toilet during the management of the crowd. The courts ruled in her favor, stating that she had not been treated humanely.