Tag Archives: total policing

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

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

Jason Bishop – new allegations of undercover policing of protest

25 Jul

1

Netpol has been asked to publish the following statement on behalf of former friends of an activist known as Jason Bishop, who they now believe to have been an undercover police officer.
Netpol have published this statement as we feel it adds important information to the debate about undercover police officers.
This is the latest in a long line of disclosures relating to the infiltration of protest groups by specialist units of the Metropolitan police including the Special Demonstration Squad and later, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

After a detailed investigation by former friends and activists, there is now no doubt that the activist known to many people as Jason Bishop was an undercover cop working for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). Jason lived in Kilburn, with a flatmate we haven’t been able to trace who was involved in animal rights activism. He drove a landrover, and allegedly made his money from pirated dvds and software. 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

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.

Continue reading

Police violence at Stopg8 protest

12 Jun
photo;' rikkiindymedia

photo; rikkiindymedia

The following statement was made by the stopG8 group in response to the excessive level of force used against protesters yesterday (Tuesday).

StopG8 held a “Carnival Against Capitalism” in the West End of London today (11 June), demonstrating against 100 murderous banks, corporations, “dens of the rich” and other hiding places of power in the run up to the G8 Summit.

The carnival went ahead despite extreme pre-emptive violence from the Metropolitan and City Police, which caused a number of protesters to be injured. The police surrounded the StopG8 Social Centre on Beak Street, W1 from 10am, and then broke in through the front doors and from the roof later in the morning. At the demonstrations starting at 12 noon in Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, police snatch squads violently arrested and assaulted more demonstrators.

People present in the Beak Street building report that the police used tasers, chemical sprays, and dogs, and hit unarmed people with shields and fists as they held their hands in the air or covered their heads. We are currently gathering witness statements and will release soon a detailed account of the attacks and injuries. We know that at least two people received serious head injuries, and many more were beaten. We are still waiting on reports from at least 30 people who were arrested.

“I could hear tasers going non stop for at least a minute,” said one witness, “I never heard anything like it in my life.”

A StopG8 spokesperson commented: “The police claim that they raided Beak Street because they suspected there were weapons on the building. In fact the only weapons were the police tasers, batons, shields, chemicals, fists and dogs.”

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’.

Continue reading

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

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

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