Tag Archives: stop and search

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”

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Anger erupts at UKBA operations

2 Aug

ukbastratford

Social media sites have erupted in anger at the use of heavily policed ‘checks’ carried out by immigration officials at train, tube and bus stations, workplaces, as well as other public areas, across London and the UK this week.

UKBA officials and the police have been condemned for deliberately picking out non-white people for questioning at public transport hubs, a practice which breaches the law, and official Home Office policy, which both make it clear that immigration officials must not stop an individual based upon their race. 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

Police powers finally kettled by High Court

18 Jun

FIT cop big camera crop

For years it has been common practice for protesters held in a kettle (police containment) to be forced to submit to police filming and/or provide their details as a condition of leaving. There have been countless incidents in which protesters who have tried (lawfully) to refuse these demands have been threatened with arrest, or told they could not leave the kettle.

This should now change, as the High Court has today ruled that the police have no powers to force people to give their details, or comply with police filming and photography, simply because they are held in a kettle.
Lord Justice Moses criticised police practice in no uncertain terms. He stated,

It is unacceptable that a civilian photographer on instruction from the police should be entitled to obtain photographs for investigation and crime investigation purposes…as the price for leaving a containment. Although the common law has sanctioned containment it has done so in only restricted circumstances.

It was not lawful for the police to maintain the containment for the purposes of obtaining identification, whether by questioning or by filming. It follows that it was not lawful to require identification to be given and submission to filming as the price for release.

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Your rights and section 50 Police Reform Act

3 May

dboad 1If you are stop and searched or to held in a kettle, you DO NOT have to give police your name and address. The police will often ask for your details in these situations, but you DO NOT have to provide them.

However, under section 50 of the Police Reform Act the police DO have powers to take your name and address (but not date of birth) IF they reasonably believe you have engaged in anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour (ASB)is defined as doing something likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others.

Section 50 powers are sometimes used by the police as a routine or blanket means of obtaining names and addresses, especially during stop and searches. But if the police do not have a genuine and reasonable belief that the person they are dealing with has been involved with ASB, the use of this power would be unlawful.

If you are told to give your details under ‘section 50’:

  • Clarify that they are using s50 Police Reform Act. If possible, record them saying this. In some circumstances the police have subsequently denied using s50 powers, claiming that people gave their details voluntarily.
  • Ask them to tell you exactly what they believe you have done that constitutes anti-social behaviour. They must have a reasonable belief that you did something likely to cause ‘harassment, alarm or distress’.
  • If possible film what they do, or record what they say on your mobile phone.
  • It is not enough for the police to say they believe you are ‘going to’ engage in anti-social behaviour. Section 50 powers do not apply to possible future actions – only if a person ‘has been acting, or is acting in an anti-social manner’.

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Protest treated as anti-social behaviour

1 May

dboad 1

Powers given to the police to deal with anti-social behaviour are increasingly being used to gather information on participants in political protest.

Section 50 of the Police Reform Act gives police the power to demand personal details, if the officer reasonably believes that the individual has been involved in anti-social behaviour. Over the years the police have interpreted a wide variety of protest activity as ‘anti-social behaviour’ in order to obtain the names and addresses of those taking part. This has included sit-down protests, handing out leaflets and spontaneous demonstrations.

Failure to provide personal details when questioned under s50 is a criminal offence for which an individual may be arrested and prosecuted. It is hardly surprising that most people choose to provide their names and addresses, rather than face arrest, even if they do not believe they have been acting anti-socially. These powers provide an easy mechanism for the police to gather intelligence data.

Netpol observers have reported that the police are using allegations of anti-social behaviour as a blanket means of obtaining protester details, coercing people who decide not to provide that information voluntarily. Continue reading

Anti-racism has been reduced to politically correct exercise

25 Feb

This article originally appeared in The Voice on 24/02/2013

Four white male police officers search four young black males

ROUTINE CHECK: Police officers stop and search young black men

Written by Adam Elliott-Cooper of the Newham Monitoring Project.

On the anniversary of the Macpherson Report, Adam Elliot-Cooper argues that the current approach to race is part of a larger problem which may lead to the gains of anti-racism campaigning being lost completely

Walking home from the Tube one evening in north London, I noticed a car being pulled over by a police van. Being involved with Tottenham Defence Campaign and Newham Monitoring Project, both of which work to defend the rights of citizens against police misconduct, I approached the vehicles. Inside the car were three young black men, protesting that they had not broken any laws, and could not understand why they had been stopped. After informing the young men of their legal rights, and the police’s legal obligations, I was promptly told by the police that I was nosy, to mind my own business, and that this was a ‘routine stop’ under the Road Traffic Act. As someone who is all too familiar with ‘routine stops’, I told the officers that we all knew the real reason these three men had been subject to such a routine. This observation infuriated the officers. One turned to me, pointed his finger in my face and bellowed: “You… are… racist!”
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Your Rights and Mobile Fingerprinting

28 Jan

met mobile fingerprinter
Last week, the Metropolitan police confirmed that its officers have started to use mobile fingerprint scanners, the 25th UK police force to do so. Initially the Met have 350 of these devices, linked to police Blackberry phones, which they claim can provide, in under two minutes, confirmation of personal details, warning markers and whether a person is wanted for a crime.

The police can use these devices to take a person’s fingerprints, with or without consent, if they ‘reasonably suspect’ they have committed a criminal offence.  The individual concerned does not need to be under arrest , nor does the offence they are suspected of need to be a serious offence.  Once fingerprints have been used to establish ID, the police may decide to arrest, summons, give a fixed penalty notice, give ‘words of advice’, or take no further action.

The police PR spin suggests that this measure is all about saving police time, providing a more cost-effective alternative to making arrests.  But, given the history of ‘function creep’ in police powers, the use of portable biometrics testing could pose a serious threat to civil rights. Continue reading

Schedule 7 terror laws used to interrogate activists

12 Dec

F

There is now abundant evidence that the police are using terrorism powers to stop and question activists on their political activities when they pass through UK ports. It is undoubtedly very helpful to the police that the draconian powers introduced by Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provide no right to silence – a refusal to answer questions can lead to a criminal conviction. The powers are also hugely intimidating – people can be detained for up to nine hours and have their DNA and fingerprints taken. To top it all, no ‘reasonable suspicion’ is needed – the police and border authorities can stop whoever they wish. What more could ‘total policing’ wish for? Continue reading

Don’t be on a database

18 Oct

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Netpol have today launched a campaign to limit the gathering of data by the police on political protest. The campaign, don’t be on a database, encourages protesters to assert their legal rights to keep their personal details private. The campaign includes a series of posters and flyers with the words, ‘Your name and address is none of their business’. Continue reading

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