Tag Archives: excessive force

Police Liaison Officer assaults press photographer

4 Feb

The video below shows a Police Liaison Officer hurl a member of the press across the pavement, ‘for her own safety’ during a protest by the English Defence League (EDL) in Slough on Saturday. Press members have claimed this was just one of a number of incidents in which Police Liaison Officers used excessive force against them on the day.

“For Your Own Safety!” – Police Liaison Assaults Press from Jason N. Parkinson/reportdigital on Vimeo.

Police in Slough also used horses and batons to drive back and disperse anti-fascist protesters who attempted to obstruct the route of the EDL march. Four arrests were made.

Police Liaison Officers were developed, according to the Metropolitan and Sussex police forces, as a way to enhance communication and dialogue between the police and protesters, and to facilitate the policing of peaceful protest. Instead they have largely lost the trust of protest groups, following reports that they have routinely engaged in the gathering of intelligence, harassed activists and enthusiastically enforced public order strategies such as protest pens, kettles and mass arrests.

Wheelchair protesters injured by police

1 Sep

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have accused the police of unnecesary aggression at their protest yesterday at the Department of Work and Pensions. One protester was left with a fractured shoulder, another tipped from their wheelchair as police pushed through the crowd to try and stop protesters occupying the DWP building. One person was arrested for breach of the peace and obstructing police, and was later released on police bail.

The wheelchair users and other DPAC protesters had blockaded the entrance to the DWP while inside 12 activists from DPAC and UKUNCUT occupied the foyer area, and ‘locked on’ to make it difficult for them to be removed. Continue reading

NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS ‘TOTAL POLICING’ CLAMPDOWN ON FREEDOM TO PROTEST

24 Jul

A detailed new report launched today by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) highlights how promises made by the police to ‘adapt to protest’ after 2009’s G20 demonstrations in London have been forgotten in a remarkably short space of time and a far more intolerant ‘total policing’ style response to protesters has developed in the UK.

The report, which covers a fourteen month period from late 2010 to the end of 2011, paints a bleak picture of the state of the freedom to protest in the UK. It documents how the tactic of containment known as ‘kettling’, the use of solid steel barriers to restrict the movement of protesters, the intrusive and excessive use of stop & search and data gathering, and the pre-emptive arrests of people who have committed no crime, have combined to enable an effective clamp-down on almost all forms of popular street-level dissent. Continue reading

February Policing Round-up – Part Two: the policing of protest

19 Mar

The following are brief reports on the policing of various protests taking place in February, primarily based on the observations of police monitors. If you were a participant in any of these protest, or any others, and feel you can add to what is said below, please get in touch with us on info@networkforpolicemonitoring.org.uk.

The policing of EDL demonstrations

Muslim youth kettled in Leicester

A senior youth and community worker has called for an enquiry into the policing of the EDL protest on 4th February addressing why there was a disproportionate policing of one section of the community, and the impact this will have on further marginalising Muslim young people in the political system.

Saqib Deshmukh, who is one of the key organisers in the Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah campaign, made the call after groups of young Muslims were kettled whilst EDL members were free to wander through the town.

Saqib also criticised the use of the Children Act to deter young people from taking part in lawful protest against the far right group. Leaflets produced by Leicestershire constabulary, warning that under 18’s could be picked up by police and ‘taken to a place of safety’, were distributed to every secondary school pupil in the city.

Leicester police kettle Muslim youth

The EDL and BNP in Hyde Manchester

The British National Party and the English Defence League also held a rally / march in Hyde, Manchester on 25th February, ostensibly in response to a perceived race attack on a white man in the city.

Police cordons had been set up, but police monitors reported that police allowed a car of EDL to pass through police lines and head towards a local mosque where the local community had congregated. The incident was minor, but raised tensions. A further flashpoint occurred when a group of EDL supporters broke through police lines to taunt Muslims from a distance of around 50 yards. Continue reading

Four Days in August

14 Mar

The report into the policing of the August riots, ‘Four Days in August’ released today, shows that the Met has, once again, failed to take the opportunity to critically evaluate the way in which it polices inner-city communities. There is no assessment of use of ‘section 60’ stop and searches and other policing tactics that have created mistrust and resentment of the police among young people. Instead, the emphasis is on the need for ‘robust’ policing, militarisation and ever-more invasive surveillance.

They key points of this report, we believe, are these:

1. The role of stop and search: The report fails to properly address the crucial issue of stop and search. Where it is mentioned, the language used in the report reinforces the view that many campaigners have frequently put forward – that stop and search is being used to criminalise young people. At one point it states that those arrested in relation to the riots were ‘generally known to police in one way or another such as through previous offending, gang involvement or a history of being stopped and searched’. The language used clearly indicates that having a ‘history of being stopped and searched’, is seen by the Met as evidence of criminality in the same way as previous offending. Nowhere in the report is there any awareness that, for many young people, stop and search is a regular and unavoidable part of life in inner city estates. Nor does it accept the possibility that being subject to repeated stop and search could itself have been a significant motivation for involvement in disorder.

2. The need for more ‘robust policing: This report indicates there has been a watershed in police attitudes to public order events, and a decisive move towards more ‘robust’ and aggressive policing. It states that public concerns of ‘a heavy handed approach by officers’ in the aftermath of the G20 protest affected ‘the mindset of police officers’ and ‘the confidence of some officers engaged in public order scenarios’. It goes on to stress the importance of making sure staff feel ‘that they will be supported’ in relation to their actions in public order scenarios.

3. Militarisation: As has been well reported, the capacity to deploy plastic bullets and water cannon has been increased, the use of tasers in public order situations has been mooted, as well as the use of CS gas. We consider that the justification for this is unclear, particularly as one of the key reasons for not deploying plastic bullets in August was the ‘speed and agility’ of the rioters, rendering the use of these weapons unfeasible. Continue reading

Eviction of Occupy LSX

1 Mar

photo @occupylsx

In the event, the eviction of Occupy LSX was handled with competent police efficiency, but little regard for the safety or welfare of the people being removed.

The first phase was the use of overwhelming police numbers – forty vans were counted by a police monitor – to close off the front of St Paul’s and create a ‘sterile area’ keeping out any further support for the occupiers. Once established, the ‘sterile zone’ was periodically expanded, as police pushed forward against the people gathering there, using force, and without warning.

Inside the camp, it was officially the job of the bailiffs to evict the occupiers. But an eye-witness told us the police were eager to take over.

“The police were clearly keen to step in and do the job for them. They were waiting for any excuse. Then they realised that the occupiers had some water, and they were sloshing water about. Clearly you couldn’t have bailiffs getting wet. That’s when the police in their riot gear effectively took over.”

The police cleared the site quickly and efficiently, but without a great deal of regard for the niceties of health and safety. They tore at the temporary structures, and pulled people roughly to the ground from platforms occupiers were refusing to leave. One told how he had been grabbed by his face and thrown down from a height of six foot onto solid paving. A piano pulled away by the police toppled and fell on to the leg of one of the occupiers.

Throughout the entire eviction two forward intelligence / evidence gathering teams filmed and photographed everyone who was there, and the police made a total of 23 reported arrests.

The police also dragged away people praying on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral, despite the fact that they eviction order did not cover this area. Continue reading

December/January policing briefing

14 Feb

News from the Kettle Police Powers campaign
Welcome to the December/January policing briefing from the ‘Kettling police powers’ campaign. For 2012, we have decided to focus on the following key areas:

• The repeal of stop and search powers which allow police to potentially harass and intimidate young people. Section 60 is perceived as a ‘sus’ power as it doesn’t require reasonable suspicion and is therefore susceptible to being use to profile people based on stereotypes.
• A removal of police powers used to demand the name and address of people who have committed no criminal offences. We believe Section 50 of the Police Reform Act is often misused as a statutory ID check, forcing people to provide their details on threat of arrest.
• A move away from the control of protest through ‘pre-emptive arrests’ and other pre-emptive strategies (such as kettling), which disproportionately undermine protest rights.
• An end to police powers to impose punishment through conditional cautions and police bail conditions. Police bail conditions are frequently used to restrict movement and political freedoms before there is even enough evidence to charge with an offence.

Netpol will also be monitoring and challenging excessive policing and any abuse of police powers in the build up to this summer’s Olympic games.

Get involved in the campaign:
Sign up to support the campaign to kettle police powers.
• Share your experiences of policing – if you have examples of the issues we campaign about or want to raise other policing issues, let us know by emailing info@netpol.org.uk or via twitter @policemonitor
• Get involved – people engaged in civil rights, protest and community groups are welcome at our regular campaign meetings. Mail info@netpol.org.uk for for info.

Excessive force and mass arrests at Congo protests
During December, there were a series of protests by the Congolese community in Central London culminating in two large demonstrations on 10th and 14th December in the Whitehall area. Continue reading

Disabled man tasered by police

6 Jan

A respected deaths in custody campaign group has today raised questions about the use of a police taser against a disabled man, who was unable to obey an order to get out of the car he was driving.

Shocket Aslam, who is dependent on a wheelchair, has said that police approached his car aggressively after he was stopped on the M6 motorway. It is understood that a number of police vehicles were deployed after Mr Aslam left a petrol station without paying for £20 of petrol.

He has alleged that immediately on reaching his vehicle, the police smashed a side window and hit him with what he describes as a cosh. He protested that he was disabled, and could not easily get out of the vehicle, but was then tasered from behind in his shoulder. Mr Aslam maintains that he did not resist the police, behave aggressively, or do anything that would give them cause to fear for their safety.

He claims that officers saw his wheelchair in the back of the car, and commented on it, but continued to drag him from the car and along the ground. He was then thrown head first into a police car.
Continue reading

Kettling the powers of the police – November policing

7 Dec

Education and public sector protests in London

Two major marches took place in London during November – the education demo through The City on 9th November and the Public Sector march on 30th November. Both events marked Hogan-Howe’s first major outings for “total policing”, with controlling excessive policing prevailing.

Control, containment and dispersal

The preceding days set the tone for both marches, with letters sent to all those arrested on previous student/anti-cuts protests warning against committing, or witnessing, any disorder.

However, the majority of recipients of these letters were not charged with any offence, and many of those who received the letters felt the police were trying to intimidate them away from lawful protest.

The education demo was surrounded by police from the beginning, giving the feel and appearance of being a moving kettle. Wapping boxes patrolled by riot police armed with short and long shields guarded most side streets.

Public order fencing in Trafalgar Square on N30 - http://blog.julesmattsson.co.uk/

Public order fencing in Trafalgar Square on N30 - http://blog.julesmattsson.co.uk/

Whilst there were kettles throughout the day, they weren’t imposed for the scale and duration of previous demonstrations. Instead, in a change of tactics, the police advocated dispersal, with conditions imposed determining the length of the end rally. This impacted on the rights to freedom of expression and association of protesters, especially since, at many recent protests, people have held general assemblies and discussions at the end of protests.

Although the public sector march was too large to be policed as a moving kettle, there was a large police presence, and mobile public order fences were erected on Whitehall to prevent unauthorised protest. This control of the route even extended to individuals trying to leave the protest. Two police monitors who tried to leave at Trafalgar Square were immediately grabbed by TSG officers who forced them to return to the designated protest route on the basis two people might form a breakaway protest. Continue reading

Kurdish protester beaten unconscious by Met police and left without medical attention for two hours

2 Dec

injured Kurdish protestor on the pavement A Kurdish protester required hospital treatment on Sunday night (27th November) after falling unconscious, having been hit on the head from behind by a police baton. Footage and images taken on the scene show the man lying flat out on the floor, covered in a space blanket. Despite the seriousness of his condition, witnesses have stated it took between two to three hours for an ambulance to reach him, despite repeated requests. Witnesses further stated they were informed by the Ambulance Service that an ambulance had been turned away by the police.

The protest, a counter demonstration to a Turkish nationalist march, was peaceful until the police assaulted a well known community journalist, causing objections from the crowd. Batons were drawn, and, according to witnesses, people were shoved, pushed and hit. Protesters were kettled, with many searched, photographed and forced to give details before being allowed to leave.

Val Swain, from Netpol: The Network for Police Monitoring stated:

“We are appalled to hear the police, not only failed to facilitate prompt treatment of a seriously injured man, but actively delayed treatment occurring. This neglect could have led to devastating consequences.

“Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of attempts by the Metropolitan Police to repress and silence the Kurdish community. In the last two months alone, the Halkevi Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre in Hackney has been raided by anti-terrorism officers, and armed police have raided the Kurdish tent at Occupy LSX. There have been no charges from either raid, and this intimidation of a community must not be tolerated.”

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