In August last year, psychologists were teaching Wan Chai police officers how to defuse difficult situations. Whatever those methods were, they obviously did not work well in practice. When police clashed with demonstrators at the World Bank conference the following month, it was handcuffs rather than psychology which settled the matter. Even the then Director of Public Prosecutions commented that the police action was 'a bit inappropriate'. As a result of breaking through a police cordon intended to keep them from the Convention Centre, four protesters have been fined a total of $15,500. The career of one, a law student, is in jeopardy. Probably no one in the melee intended events to get so out of hand. Particularly a student who must be aware that an offence on her record can result in being barred from the legal profession. But these incidents have a pattern which has been repeated several times in the past year. Trouble ensues because restrictions imposed on protesters are calculated to cause frustration. In a cramped space under a flyover, at the back of the centre, the group could not see the building, much less the delegates. The press were similarly coralled behind to prevent them seeing any banners. One foreign reporter caught in the fracas also claimed that excessive force was used. She later described how she was assaulted by an officer. The police have a responsibility to protect VIPs. It is understandable if protesters are held at a safe distance. But they also have a duty to protect citizens' rights to peaceful protest. They fail to do so when they keep demonstrators out of sight and sound of their target. If they do not see how that raises tension, it is time for another psychology course.