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Campaigners Launch Call For Public Inquiry Into Undercover Police

28 Feb

CopsLast night, a packed and at times emotional meeting at Unite’s headquarters in London launched a new campaign calling for a public inquiry into undercover police surveillance against political activism.

The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) brings together campaigners, trade unionists and lawyers targeted by undercover police operations and speakers yesterday reflected the range of police surveillance targets, including blacklisted construction workers, anti-racist campaigners, environmental activists and, as emerged last year, the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Continue reading

Anger at police kettle of student activists

30 Jan

birm student kettle 2

Students have spoken out at their anger and frustration at being kettled, filmed and questioned at the end of a demonstration at Birmingham University last night.

There had been a national meeting, followed by a march and an occupation of Birmingham University’s Great Hall. As the students left the occupation, they were met by lines of police. They were then held in a kettle, in cold and wet conditions, for up to four hours.

One student told us she had struggled to cope with the cold and wet and the lack of toilet facilities,

“It felt like forever, I needed the toilet and it was so horrible and uncomfortable and cold. When I finally got out my friends had to hold me up I was so cold and drained. I felt really helpless and wanted to cry.

My friend was in tears – this was the first demo she’d been on. She doesn’t want to go on another one ever again. The police terrify her now.

They kept us like that to keep our morale down, to absolutely smash our morale. I just feel really bitter and angry”

Continue reading

Bail Conditions point the way to the potential future of protest

26 Nov

This is a guest post by Harry Stopes (@HarryStopes)

education-for-allThe use of restrictive bail conditions on protestors, many of whom have been arrested en masse, is a worrying trend evident in policing over the last two and a half years. The most recent example to be reported was that of Michael Chessum, the President of the University of London students’ union. He was arrested under section 11 of the Public Order Act, for failing to notify the police of a demonstration, and was bailed on condition that he refrain from engaging in any protest, at any university, or within half a mile of any university.

These bail conditions are supposedly designed to prevent re-offending, but in fact do nothing of the sort: the risk of a person committing a section 11 offence is unrelated to their ability to protest in general. ‘Universities’ are specified precisely because it is Chessum’s role to campaign on behalf of students at universities across London

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Raids on Traveller sites condemned by campaigners

18 Sep

first they came for travellers

In the last week several Traveller communities as well as Traveller rights campaigners have been subjected to police raids. The police claim the “Operation Elven” series of raids, including one at Smithy Fen Traveller site in Cambridge, supposedly concern thefts of Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn from museums and auction houses across England and Ireland. However, police have been accused of serial heavy-handedness and faulty intelligence. Continue reading

Mass arrest – an abuse of power

9 Sep

police film kettle

The arrest of 286 antifascists demonstrating against the presence of the English Defence League in East London on Saturday is another example of what seems to be a growing trend in public order policing – the mass arrest of people participating in unauthorised marches, rallies and processions.

The tactic of mass arrest is highly indiscriminate – no consideration is made of whether the individuals concerned are truly suspected of any offence. Netpol observers spoke to a boxing coach in East London yesterday, who had tried desperately to get police officers to realise that one of the people they had contained had simply been en route to his gym, which was round the corner from the police kettle. No-one seemed willing to listen to him. Continue reading

Force not facilitation at fracking protests

21 Aug

pressure point balcombe

Police actions at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests on Monday will have done little to reassure protesters that Sussex police has any interest in genuinely facilitating protest, or in ensuring the safety of protesters. 29 arrests were made, including that of MP Caroline Lucas, as police cleared protesters from the gates of the Cuadrilla site. Continue reading

Police set to get new dispersal powers

23 Jul

dispersal area crop

New laws being considered by parliament would allow police to disperse people taking part in a lawful assembly and arrest those that did not comply. There is no need for the demonstration to have been disorderly or violent – the only requirement would be that the dispersal was ‘necessary to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour’. Continue reading

Political surveillance cannot be justified – Netpol statement on Police Spying.

12 Jul

Recent revelations about undercover policing have shown that a number of legal and political campaigns and organisations, including the Newham Monitoring Group, a partner organisation in Netpol, have been subject to covert surveillance operations.

While the police are keen to dismiss criticism as being merely an historic issue, applying to a bygone era, Netpol sees no reason to believe that things have improved in recent years. The covert policing of dissent still lacks any effective internal accountability mechanism or means of independent/public scrutiny. Continue reading

Why I sought judicial review of the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate fishing expeditions

27 Jun

By Susannah Mengesha

Source: @keithPP

Kettled protestors on November 30th. Photo by KeithPP

This month I was thrilled to receive successful decision on my judicial review case against the Police Commissioner regarding the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate intelligence gathering purposes.

The court held that the police must not demand protesters to give their name, address and date of birth, and demand that they be filmed, as the price for leaving a kettle. Continue reading

Statement on covert police surveillance of Newham Monitoring Project

25 Jun

Press release from Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) – one of the members of Netpol.

It is alarming that a Metropolitan police undercover surveillance unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), targeted Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) and serves as a reminder of the levels of corruption and misuse of power within the police that we have tirelessly campaigned against for years.

Our work supporting victims of police misconduct, racist violence and assisting the grieving relatives and friends of black people who died in police custody has contributed significantly to greater police accountability, transparency and racial equality in the UK. The police have actively sought to stop, disrupt or discredit this work and the people who support it.

Attempts to mitigate against negative publicity using unethical policing methods are indisinguishable from the sanctioning of a cover-up. Continue reading

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