Tag Archives: legal observers

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

Funding: Netpol needs you

13 Jun

donate to keep netpol runningNetpol – the network for police monitoring – is a grassroots organisation made up of various community groups which works for activists, supporting their right to effective protest. Netpol supports activists and community groups by:

  • monitoring policing,
  • writing reports and
  • campaigning about oppressive policing such as excessive use of force, data gathering and intimidation of protestors.

In the current climate of counter-EDL demonstrations and protests about the cuts, Netpol urgently needs more funding to continue its work and increase its reach and effectiveness.

To donate to Netpol please click one of the standing order options below:

Donate £3 a month to Netpol

Donate £5 a month to Netpol

Donate £10 a month to Netpol

Donate £20 a month to Netpol

We aim to have one-off donation options available soon.

The Intelligence Role of Police Liaison Officers

7 Sep

Police Liaison Officers (PLOs) have become a regular part of the policing of political protest up and down the country, ostensibly to promote ‘dialogue and communication’. Jason Parkinson, in a film made for the Guardian, has questioned the extent to which the PLO’s are also using their role to intimidate, harass, and gather intelligence on political activists.

Netpol has been monitoring the use of Police Liaison Officers in Sussex and London. We have concerns, based on our observations, that PLOs are taking on some of the intelligence gathering tasks that were previously done by the now widely distrusted ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ (FIT). Continue reading

Newham council bans human rights legal observers from Olympic livescreen venue

31 Jul

A group of Newham Monitoring Project Community Legal Observer volunteers have been “banned” from entering Stratford Park, a site open to the general public who wish to watch the free Olympic livescreens, by security on the ground who apparently accused them of “making it easy for criminals and giving them tips” when giving out Stop and Search rights-information cards to members of the public. Continue reading

NetPol calls for evidence of abuse of police powers during this summer’s Olympics

27 Jul

The Security Games are almost upon us. This summer’s London Olympics sees the largest peacetime policing and security operation since 1945, with a budget that has soared to around £1 billion.

Between now and mid September, the Network for Police Monitoring (NetPol) and its member organisations are gathering evidence of the impact that this huge police, private security and military presence has on the right to freely protest and the right of communities who live near to Olympic events to go about their daily lives without interference.

Legal observers from NetPol members Green and Black Cross and Legal Defence Monitoring Group will be monitoring the policing of demonstrations and protests that take place over the next six weeks. In east London, NetPol member Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) is organising a pool of over 100 trained ‘community legal observers’ who will patrol in Stratford, Canning Town and the surrounding areas that are predominently poor, working class and the home of black and Asian communities. NMP is aiming to gather evidence of the misuse of sweeping police stop & search and dispersal powers, especially those targeting young people. 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 One: Court and Policy updates

19 Mar

Domestic Extremism

A Judicial Review was brought by John Catt on February 9th to challenge the lawfulness his entry onto a ‘domestic extremism database’. , The veteran peace activist, who has no criminal convictions, and is often seen sketching on protests has 66 entries on a secretive database run by the National Domestic Extremism Unit(NDEU). The NDEU now operates as part of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism command.
The majority of the entries concern his association with protests against the EDO factory in Brighton, which manufactures arms components, although an estimated 15% of the entries relate to other protests both in Brighton and around the UK.

The police also admitted to having retained, but recently deleted, John Catt’s photograph. Yet they continued to maintain justification for the retention of personal information about Mr Catt, including his appearance, his movements and details of his car.

HMIC recently criticised the units handling and retention of data in their report on undercover policing, finding, “the rationale for recording and retaining the intelligence was not strong enough”. This was dismissed by the Met in court as ‘not applicable’ to the current case.

Judgement is still awaited.

Facebook riot cases

Another man has been cleared of encouraging rioting or looting via Facebook during the August’s riots. A jury took just 90 minutes to agree that Christopher Milligan’s post did not amount to ‘intentionally encouraging or assisting rioting’.

Milligan is the fourth man to have been acquitted by a jury for writing on Facebook. His fate differs markedly from that of Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, who were jailed last year for making very similar comments. Both men had pleaded guilty to encouraging crime in their home towns, although there were no outbreaks of disorder in either location.

Dale Farm – Production Order

Essex police obtained a production order, after a fiercely contested case at Chelmsford Crown Court, forcing journalists present at the Dale Farm eviction to hand over to un-broadcast footage. Judge Gratwick ignored serious concerns put forward by journalists, and found a ‘clear and compelling case for disclosure’.

The police are demanding all footage taken by the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4 as well as freelance filmmaker, Jason Parkinson. The NUJ has stated its intention to appeal the decision to the High Court.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is an attack on press freedom and turns photographers, videographers and journalists into potential targets. Journalists are not there to carry out investigatory work for the police.”

John Domokos, video producer for Guardian.co.uk said: “We are very concerned about this production order as we believe it will not only seriously jeopardise his safety and ability to cover future events of this nature, but also affect the safety and impartiality of all video journalists.” Continue reading

Business as Usual

22 Feb

By Saqib Deshmukh

You had to wonder and at the same time be extremely concerned about mass kettles and any rights to free assembly and movement suspended on the 4th of February 2012 in Leicester. The police used their extensive Public Order powers to limit the right of people to protest against the English Defence League (EDL) marching through Leicester City centre. From where I stood (kettled) EDL marchers could wander without hindrance in the city centre, making gestures of defiance and enjoying the actions of the police.

It was business as usual in Leicester, EDL were free to march again and this time the new Mayor and Leicestershire Constabulary acquiesced to their demands and allowed them to march through the city. In contrast Leicester United Against Fascism (UAF), independent anti fascists and groups of young Muslim people were tightly controlled.
I have attended a number of EDL demos up and down the country over the last three years as a Legal Observer and stewarded at the UAF demo on the 4th of February and in 2010. In both years together with the Network for Police Monitoring and agencies such as The Racial Equality Centre (TREC) and the Highfields Centre I have co-ordinated the deployment of community based Legal Observers.

In some towns and cities experienced legal observers from across the UK have been deployed, but in Leicester we took a different route. By training up people from local agencies and community groups we are recognising the local knowledge and understandings that they will have. The Legal Observers are representative of the communities but also have clout at street, so are well placed to be effective monitors. As always the Legal Observers are independent and document police mobilisation and use of powers. In March 2011 Network for Police Monitoring published a report on policing at the last EDL rally in October 2010. Continue reading

London in Peril – From The Threat Of Ineffective Protest

13 Jul

reposted from Random Blowe

“Protest,” said the journalist Robert Elms at London’s Bishopsgate Institute last Thursday, “is the lifeblood of London.” That may be so: the city has a long and rich history of protest and dissent. But how much longer can it remain an integral part of London life, when there is a fundamental disjunction between the police’s increasing tendency to brand demonstrators as ‘criminals’ and the desire of the protesters to genuinely influence change?

The cultural and literary centre near Liverpool Street has been running a series of events hosted by Elms under the banner London in Peril, which have explored the past, present and future threats facing the capital. Last week’s ‘Protesting London’ debate was ambitiously billed as an exploration of “the effectiveness of protest, the attempts at constraint, the impact on London and its communities and what the future of protest may hold” and without doubt, the inclusion on the panel of one of the Metropolitan Police’s most senior officers, Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens, who has overall responsibility for public order, was the reason why tickets had sold-out well in advance.

That the debate failed to deliver, however, was perhaps inevitable. There was insufficient time to properly probe and question the speakers, who also included Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German and the academic and writer Clive Bloom. More importantly, Assistant Commissioner Owens might have provided a certain novelty value, but no-one rises to such an elevated position in the Metropolitan Police without learning how deflect questions and say very little. Throughout, her message was resolutely upbeat, despite the audience’s awareness of the intense criticism the Met has faced after the G20 protests in April 2009 and subsequent demonstrations.

In her opening remarks, Owens steered clear of these controversies, focusing instead on the “public order successes” of the Notting Hill Carnival and the annual Gay Pride March, although both are now examples of corporate-sponsored street entertainment rather than protests. The Royal Wedding was also cited as an “example of peaceful protest,” which may come as a surprise to the small number of anti-monarchist protesters who were snatched in Soho Square and faced pre-emptive arrests that in all likelihood were unlawful. Continue reading

Call for legal observers for 26th March

6 Mar

On March 26th, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend upon London town, a “March of Resistance” against the devastating cuts being imposed on the public. Anti-cuts groups are likely to take this opportunity to mount their own actions against the government, in solidarity with the official demonstration, which may include occupations and other forms of non-violent direct action.

Green and Black Cross, an independent legal group working in conjunction with LDMG and the Network for Police Monitoring, will be co-ordinating teams of legal observers on the ground and offering support to activists who share the same common philosophy as ours (http://bit.ly/hdXqop). Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: