In October 2016, the Home Secretary ruled out a public inquiry into the ‘Battle of Orgreave', arguing that ‘very few lessons’ could be learned from a review of practices of three decades ago. It was suggested that policing has undergone a progressive transformation since the 1984–5 miners’ strike, at political, legal, and operational levels. This article, in contrast, charts a significant expansion of state control over public protest since the strike, including a proliferation of public order offences and an extension of pre‐emptive policing powers. Whilst concerns have been raised about the impact of these developments on protest rights, there is an absence of socio‐legal research into the operation of public order powers in practice. In this article, I begin to fill this lacuna. Drawing on three empirical case‐studies of protesters’ experiences of arrest and the criminal justice process, I highlight the relevance of Orgreave for contemporary policing practice.