Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for fitwatch

The Only Good Policing is No Policing

While any pressure put on the police to behave less violently is to be welcomed, lets remember that they have and always will be used as tinstruments of the state to stop us achieving justice.

This is not to diminish the work that has gone into winning a Judicial Review by Climate Camp and Bindmans into the Policing the G20 but it’ s clear from the both the distant and recent past and that once a social movement is seen as a threat, the state will use what ever means they have to extinguish it.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate’s report was also issued today on Protest Policing, while it did make some criticisms and while we echo the call of The Guardian Frances Wright, which calls for ACPO (responsible for Nectu, FIT, and intense protester harassment) to be abolished, we won’t be happy till they all fuck off.

Meanwhile, in Denmark the Police have been moaning about Climate Justice Action issuing legal guides to the upcoming protests, and especially about advice to give no comment interviews: That seems a pretty good endorsement of the “No Comment” Message.


 

 

See Full Report:
http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/special/adapting-to-protest/

 

MEDIA COVERAGE:

‘Aggressive’ policing of protests condemned in post-G20 inquiry
Senior inspector discredits heavy-handed approach and calls for return to 19th-century style of minimal force
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/25/police-could-lose-public-consent

British policing’s wake-up call
Heavy-handed policing is drifting away from British ‘soft’ tactics
http://www.politics.co.uk/news/policing-and-crime/british-policing-s-wake-up-call-$1342748.htm

Police methods ‘could erode public support’
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/uk/police+methods+aposcould+erode+public+supportapos/3437497

Police protest training in chaos, report finds
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6931097.ece

Police tactics ‘risking loss of public support’
British police risk losing the support of the public if they confront demonstrators with tactics seen as aggressive and unfair.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8377208.stm


 

CONTROVERSIAL DOMESTIC EXTREMIST UNITS MAKE DESPERATE RAIDS TO JUSTIFY EXISTENCE

 

ironing

Domestic Extremist?

Fitwatch Press Release on AR raids

Following a damning series of articles in The Guardian, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU), and their sister organisation the National Domestic Extremist Team (NDET) are attempting to justify their existence by raiding and arresting four animal rights activists for conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

NETCU and NDET are run by Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Denis O’Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, will next month release the findings of his national review of policing of protests and has already signalled he anticipates wide scale change. His inspectors are considering a complete overhaul of the ACPO units, which they have been told lack statutory accountability.

 

CO2558 Steve Discombe

FIT's Steve Discombe Co2558 - For the Chop?

Wearing balaclavas, police officers from four different forces carried out the raids yesterday, smashing through doors and spending over ten hours searching two houses. Witnesses to one of the raids described the police as “intimidating” and “threatening”.

Lynn Sawyer – a resident of one of the houses – who was not arrested stated “This was a massive fishing expedition to promote NETCU’s facade of effectiveness whilst attempting to stop protest through pure terrorisation.”

Apart from computers and mobile phones, the police were also interested in financial documents, evidence of travel and association in support of animal rights extremism. Evidence of such extremism included banners, leaflets and a poster from VIVA, a well respected vegetarian/vegan organisation.

macca

Paul McCartney - Due a visit from Nectu ?

Fitwatch activist Emily Apple stated that “This was an entirely disproportionate policing operation undertaken by an increasingly desperate unit. The threatening nature of these raids and using items such as NGO posters and leaflets as evidence of extremism demonstrate NDET’s dubious definition of domestic extremism and their willingness to intimidate protesters and criminalise dissent.”

Fitwatch
http://www.fitwatch.org.uk
defycops@yahoo.co.uk

Notes for Editors:
1. More information on The Guardian’s investigation – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/25/police-surveillance-protest-domestic-extremism
2. A third ACPO unit dealing with domestic extremism, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, is also being investigated.
3. The term “domestic extremism” does not have a legal definition and has been invented by these units.
4. VIVA are supported by a wide range of people including Joanna Lumley, Michael Mansfield QC and Sir Paul McCartney.

Fitwatch
– e-mail: defycops@yahoo.co.uk
– Homepage: http://www.fitwatch.org.uk

Scotland Yard riot squad faces calls to end ‘culture of impunity’

tsg

No Cause For Complaint ?

What a surprise! : Of more than 5,000 complaints against squad, less than 0.18% were upheld

From The Guardian: 6/11/09:

Scotland Yard faced calls for an “ethical audit” of all officers in its controversial riot squad tonight after figures revealed that they had received more than 5,000 complaint allegations, mostly for “oppressive behaviour”.

Details of all allegations lodged against the Metropolitan police territorial support group (TSG) over the last four years reveal that only nine – less than 0.18% – were “substantiated” after an investigation by the force’s complaints department.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, were described as evidence of a “culture of impunity” that makes it almost impossible for members of the public to lodge successful complaints against the Met’s 730 TSG officers.

The TSG is a specialist squad that responds to outbreaks of disorder anywhere in the capital. It is under investigation for the most high-profile cases of alleged brutality at the G20 protests, including the death of Ian Tomlinson.

The unit came under renewed criticism this week after one of its officers was identified as a member of a team implicated in a “serious, gratuitous and prolonged” attack on a Muslim man.

PC Mark Jones, 42, was one of six officers involved in an attack on Babar Ahmad, 34, who was punched, kicked, stamped on and strangled during his arrest at his home in Tooting, south London. The Met paid Ahmad £60,000 in damages earlier this year and accepted its officers were responsible for the attack, during which Ahmad, a terror suspect, was forced into the Muslim prayer position and told: “Where is your God now? Pray to him.”

A former Royal Marine, Jones has had 31 complaints lodged against him since 1993. Twenty-six were assault allegations, most of which had been lodged by black or Asian men, but none were substantiated.

They included a complaint from a man detained in a drug search in 2007 who, Ahmad’s lawyers told the high court, accused Jones of forcing him into a TSG van, placing him on his knees, grabbing his neck and spraying CS gas into his face.

Despite being identified in court by Ahmad’s lawyers as the officer who placed him in an “extremely dangerous” neck-hold, Jones faced no disciplinary action and returned to duty on Wednesday after being cleared in another case of alleged racially aggravated assault.

The TSG has been the subject of 5,241 allegations since August 2005. They include 376 allegations of discrimination and 977 complaints of “incivility”. More than 1,100 of the allegations concerned what members of the public said were “failures in duty”. However by far the largest number of complaints – 2,280 – were categorised as “oppressive behaviour”.

Just over 2,000 (38%) were “unsubstantiated” by the Met’s department for professional standards, while the rest were resolved at the police station, dismissed, discontinued or dealt with in other ways.

Senior Met officers say the TSG’s work, involving drug raids and demonstrations, means they are more likely to face complaints than other officers.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the force’s watchdog, said tonight the figures revealed TSG officers were “practically immune” from criticism in the force.

“The fact that less than 0.2% of complaints about the TSG succeed, suggest its officers are protected within the Met to the extent that there is a culture of impunity for their actions,” she said. “It’s time for an ethical audit and a thorough overhaul. They desperately need better training, rotation of personnel, and reduction of duties to make them fit for purpose.”

Fiona Murphy, Ahmad’s solicitor, said: “The figures either mean thousands of members of the public are taking the trouble to make fabricated complaints against the TSG, which seems unlikely, or there is a systemic problem with the complaints procedure that means it is virtually impossible for officers in the unit to be held to account for their actions.”

A high court order prevented identification of Jones as an officer involved in the Ahmad assault until the end of his separate criminal trial. On Tuesday jurors at Kingston crown court cleared Jones of racially and physically attacking two 16-year-old boys in a police van in June 2007.

The teenagers said they were racially taunted in front a team of TSG officers who had stopped them near Edgware Road, west London. One of the teenagers said Jones punched him several times in the head and placed him in a neck-hold while calling him an “Arab cunt”.

 

697-domestic-extremists-lg

from schnews

Good Analysis of Liberal Press’  questionable coverage of recent Police Brutality:

also check: http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news697.php

Kingsnorth Police Report: Poor Handwriting Slammed

You may have thought that unjustified stop and searches, assaults and raids may have been the focus of the report. But apparently, the fact that some Officers have ineligable handwriting is, as Emily Apple of Fitwatch and now the Guardian (!) says in her article (below) is  apparently of more concern than, for instance,  the fact that her and Val Swain were brutally arrested and then remanded for 3 days, only later to have their charges dropped.

Emily Apple (Guardian Article) :

The soundbites sound good. A report into the policing of Kingsnorth has stated the use of blanket stop and search powers were “disproportionate and counterproductive” and show a failed command structure displaying incompetent leadership and poor communication.

However, the motivation behind these findings needs to be examined. The report is not concerned with the rights of protesters but protecting the integrity of the police force. Yes, the searches were criticised, but not for the right reasons. Instead of finding the searches contravened civil liberties, the report worries about the effect a judicial review might have on the force, stating they were “counterproductive” because of “organisational vulnerability through legal challenge”. Instead of using the opportunity to condemn the blanket use of section 1 stop and searches as an abuse of civil liberties, even more draconian legislation is called for asking for further powers, presumably to counteract the effects of any pesky judicial interference.

None of the civil liberties concerns raised by activists and politicians in relation to the camp are addressed. In fact, the report praises the police for meeting one of their key objectives of “facilitating peaceful protest”, which is simply not true. Facilitating protest must include adherence to all human rights law, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Stating that, during a protest which extended over several days, the police facilitated one march at the end of the week ignores all the civil liberties abuses which took place at the camp itself.

While no mention is made of the use of excessive violence by officers using batons strikes against peaceful protesters, the handwriting of officers is criticised, with fewer than 25% of all forms legible. However, instead of criticising the need for 8,000-plus searches, the report laments the fact there weren’t more details to put onto the police database. The fact details of thousands of protesters has been entered into a database is not examined, nor is the admission this information is disseminated to the Forward Intelligence Teams (Fits), and that people should not give the police personal details if they do not want to end up on such a database.

Meanwhile, another report commissioned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), has not been released, even to the IPCC. The findings were seemingly not to the liking of senior police officers, who ordered this current report to be written instead. Despite promises by the policing minister, David Hanson, to publish the original report, this has not been done, and we are left with a report which is hostile to demonstrators and repressive in tone.

The recommendations of the HMIC report to move towards a less confrontational model of policing will never be achieved unless the attitude of the police changes towards demonstrators. However, the biggest test for all the reports will be seen on the streets over the next couple of months. Climate Camp is returning to London in August, while in September activists return to the City for a mass protest against the DSEi arms fair.

It is clear from this report, and from examples such as the suggestion, made by City of London police during a meeting with the family of Ian Tomlinson and the IPCC, that Tomlinson might have been attacked by a protester “dressed in police uniform”, that the mindset of the police has not altered. It is important they are held to account on the streets, and anyone who has any concerns over the policing of protests and civil liberties should attend these events to monitor and challenge this policing for themselves.