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Policewatch Films

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hands Off Gaza : Saturday 3rd Jan 12.30pm London Embankment

On Saturday the 3rd January there will be another demonstration in solidarity with the people of Gaza and to call (once again) for an end to Israeli attacks.

The horror being inflicted upon Gaza is such that the job of dealing with the FIT could be seen as almost trivial in comparison, and for that reason this call out is hard to write. But the Met are very good at using the intimidation and harassment of Forward Intelligence Teams to kill off protest. If we are going to be effective in giving solidarity to the people of Gaza, we also need to be effective at protecting our own ability to protest on the streets of London.

The police have already been busy ‘gathering intelligence’ on those protesting this week outside the Israeli embassy, and they will be busy again on Saturday. The data, like all of that collected by FIT, will end up on a database in New Scotland Yard. Without knowing it, people who have taken part in legitimate and justified political protest will find themselves labelled ‘extremists’.

Nobody wants to be distracted from an issue as urgent and important as that of Gaza, and no-one should be. But we also owe it to ourselves not to stand by and allow the Met to get away with their normal brand of intrusion, harassment and bully-boy tactics. So this is the Fitwatch call for the demonstration on Saturday. Come and support the people of Gaza, but also come prepared to deal with the cameras, cordons and harassment of the Forward Intelligence Teams. Their presence is no longer accepted.

For further info see

Friday, 12 December 2008

FIT officer admits in court to the existence of a protester database.

A Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) officer this week admitted publicly that he entered data from FIT operations onto a centrally operated database. This is the first time the Met has publicly acknowledged the existence a database containing details of people involved in political protest.
The admission is significant because this database would hold a great deal of sensitive information about an individual’s political activity. The accumulation of information by the police on a person’s political affiliations or beliefs is a very sensitive area, and potentially a breach of the Human Rights Act.

FIT records could include not only which demonstrations an individual had attended, but also whether they had attended planning meetings or taken an active part in organisation. They would also include any association with recognised political organisations or groups.

PC Dan Collins (pictured above) was giving evidence in court during a trial of three activists charged with obstructing a police cameraman. He spoke openly about entering data gathered during FIT operations onto a computer system, a database that could be searched to provide information on individuals.

“Is there a mechanism to check which demonstrations [the defendant] has attended?” asked the defence.

“Not just [the defendant]. Thousands of people” he replied.

“And the system could check on just one individual?”

“Not me personally. But the police could, yes.”

The revelation will hardly come as a surprise to political activists that have been on the receiving end of the FIT’s data gathering activities. But it is another chink in the armour of the Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The three people on trial for obstructing a police cameraman were found guilty. Two were given conditional discharges and a third was fined. All three have been ordered to pay costs of £150. They are considering their appeal.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Fit at Climate March 2008

More Photos here. All taken in Parliament Square.

Monday, 8 December 2008

A privatised police force, just for us…?

It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems probable that the officers pictured above at Smash EDO in Brighton were collecting ‘intelligence’ on behalf of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). The NPOIU work alongside that other lovely bunch, NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit) who came to public attention recently by escalating Earth First! and climate campers to the status of terrorists in an article written for the Observer newspaper. The article was later withdrawn by the Observer when it was slammed by their readership as unsubstantiated police propaganda.

However, both the article, and the retraction failed to mention that NETCU is not part of any police force at all. It is part of a private company. The same applies to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) whom we believe may have been operating at Brighton.
Both of these units are operated by an organisation which clearly states on its website that it is a private company. It is registered as such at Companies House, and provides annual returns. This company is ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.

NETCU and the NPIOU (and believe it or not there is a third unit, the NDET – National Domestic Extremism Team) employ serving police officers seconded from police forces across the country. They appear to have access to police resources and intelligence. They gather and analyse intelligence which is then used to ‘advise’ police operations, investigations and public order strategy. They are, in effect, a privatised police force.

Unlike existing police forces, they do not have to answer publicly to a police authority - a body which is usually made up of local politicians and members of the public. Unlike police forces, they are not required to provide any information under the Freedom of Information Act. They appear able to operate without justifying their actions to anyone, save the Home Secretary.
This lack of openness and transparency is remarkable in an era where even MI5 must comply with the Freedom of Information Act. This total lack of accountability makes it even more disturbing that they are able to plant misleading and potentially damaging articles in a newspaper like the Observer.

Given they operate under this shroud of secrecy, little is known about these three interlinked units. We know they have in the past focused their attentions on animal rights campaigns, but have now developed a wider circle of interest. They have a stated aim to ‘reduce or remove the threat from domestic extremism’ with an apparent emphasis on protecting the interests of private business. Given the presence of the above officers at EDO, it seems the campaign against the Brighton arms company has also come under the heading of ‘domestic extremism’.
We also know these units have friends in high places. They have direct representation on the Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, a high level committee including counter terrorism units, the security services and high level government officials. One of the key roles of this committee is to work out what new laws might be needed in the struggle against terrorism and domestic extremism, and how best to use (or misuse) the huge amount of legislation they already have.

This is an unaccountable, outsourced police force, which has a clear self interest in promoting fear of ‘domestic extremism’ and in promoting the need for ‘intelligence’ on political campaigns. Alongside this, there is an obvious remit for promoting the needs of big business over such campaigns. The Forward Intelligence Teams know the value of having ‘intelligence’ on your opponents. It is therefore only right that we should make it our business to know what NETCU and NPIOU are up to, so that we can make sure we can devise strategies to, in their words, deal with them “effectively and robustly”.

We cannot afford to ignore the power of these organisations. However, we can arm ourselves with a knowledge and an awareness of the lengths these organisations are prepared to go to quash political protest and dissent.
Information is power, which is why so many police officers dislike this blog. It is why we, despite whatever legislation they devise, will continue to publish all the information we have on these police officers and the units that support and control them.

Friday, 5 December 2008

European Court Rules on DNA

European Court Rules on DNA

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg yesterday found that the keeping of DNA from people who have no criminal convictions was a breach of their Article 8 rights to privacy. This should mean that the police will be forced to destroy hundreds of thousands of samples, including 40,000 taken from children.

This is exceptionally good news in itself, but the ruling could also re-open the debate about whether photographs and film retained by police public order intelligence units could also be a breach of Article 8. The courts have been heavily influenced by the DNA case when looking more generally at police rights to collect and collate data. Now the House of Lords decision on DNA is in tatters, the courts may be forced to accept that other forms of police data gathering also breach the Convention.

Of course, much depends on the government response to this ruling. The European Convention on Human Rights is not exactly popular amongst either of the two main political parties and there have been murmurings for many years that the European Court has too much sway over UK law. Jacqui Smith has so far commented only that she is ‘disappointed’ with the ruling and that the government will now ‘carefully consider the judgement’.

Friday, 28 November 2008

...and Ken Norman

We'd also like to introduce Detective Sergeant Ken Norman. Ken works for CO11 doing the 'detective' work for the Met's public order unit. His work has included a number of Fitwatch trials, where people have been prosecuted (but rarely convicted) for obstructing police cameras. He is most noticable in his police liaison role, where he works with the courts, prosecution lawyers and police witnesses to make sure the police put forward 'the best possible case' and get convictions. Happily, his success rate doesn't seem to be very high.

We think he may work alongside the National Domestic Extremism Team, a small unit run by ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) which appears to exist purely to pursue prosecutions against political activists. It's hard to know for certain however, because so little is known about this less-than-accountable unit, and Ken, for all his friendly smiles, is not exactly open with us about the structures he works within. (That's an open invitation, Ken - tell us all about it!)

Ken is well known for his friendly/chatty routine, but don't be fooled. If you are in court for a politically motivated offence, he'll want to get to know you a little. And it's not because he wants a new friend on facebook....

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Counter Terrorism Bill receives Royal Assent and picture of head of NETCU

The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 26th November. This is obviously much earlier than we expected. However, we have not yet found out whether it is enforcable immediately, or whether there will be a date when it comes into law. If this is the case, we will publicise the date, and carry out our act of mass resistance then.

However, if it is effective immediately, we will propose a date for people to join the mass resistance.

Whatever the status, it is business as usual here at Fitwatch. We will continue to publish whatever details of FIT, NETCU, Evidence Gatherers, Special Branch etc we can lay our hands on.

Please send us any useful photographs, or information, and we will publish them on our blog. If for some reason the blog is shut down, check or email defycops(at) for updates.

So, to kick off the new era - here is a picture of Steve Pearl, head of NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit)

If you see Steve wandering the streets of Cambridgeshire, be sure to say hello.

For further information about NETCU see

Saturday, 15 November 2008

We will not be intimidated – Mass resistance to new offence of publishing information about police officers

The new Counter Terrorism Bill, currently in The Lords, contains an amendment to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This amendment will make it an offence, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, to publish or elicit information about any police constable "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

Furthermore, Schedule 7 of the Bill applies this amendment to internet service providers and web hosting services. This means they will have a legal duty to remove all sites perceived to fall under this offence, and has provisions for use at home and abroad.

It is unclear what information will be classed as “useful” to terrorists, but due to this ambiguous wording, the Bill has implications for bloggers, journalists, photographers, activists and anyone who values freedom of speech.

This is a call from Fitwatch for a mass publishing of information on police officers on the day this Bill receives its Royal Assent. The date will be published as soon as we have it, but it is likely to be early 2009.

Fitwatch are one of the groups who could be targeted by this new legislation. Fitwatch, started eight months ago by activists, resists and opposes the use of Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) on demonstrations. FIT are police officers who photograph, follow, and generally intimidate protesters. They bring, in the words of Jacqui Smith, “harassment style policing” to protests.

As part of this opposition, we run a blog – – where we share information about these officers. We feel this blog could be under threat from this new legislation.

Whilst it is obvious from our blog that we do not like these officers, we are not terrorists.

Neither are:

  • people filming, and uploading to Youtube, footage of police officers acting illegally.
  • bloggers writing about being randomly stopped and searched.
  • journalists publishing details of corrupt or racist cops.
  • photographers publishing photographs of police on protests.

The list goes on, but all are under threat.

This legislation not only attempts to stifle our ability to hold the police force to account for their actions, but also attacks the principles of open publishing on the internet. It must be resisted.

Join the mass action and oppose this ludicrous law.

This action can be taken by anyone, anywhere:

  • Get hold of a piece of information about a police officer, or a photo or video. If you are stuck, feel free to use anything from our blog!
  • Publish this on Flickr, Youtube, your blog, website, myspace/facebook, whereever you want.
  • Send us a link, and we'll publish a list on our blog.
  • Please circulate and publish this call as widely as possible, and join this act of cyber resistance.

ps – this bill also applies to intelligence officers. If anyone does have any photographs or information on MI5 officers they wish to publish, we would not seek to discourage them in any way, shape or form, but please do send us a link!!!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Fitwatch on Facebook

We now have a Fitwatch profile on Facebook.

Become our friend....

Monday, 3 November 2008

More on photography in public places

Spotted on Marc Vallee's blog...

On Thursday 20th November the Home Office will publish new operational guidance to the police on the use of stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 of those taking photographs in public places.

The draft guidance says,

There is no power under the Terrorism Act 2000 to prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.

“If officers reasonably suspect that photographs are being taken as part of hostile terrorist reconnaissance then they should act appropriately, by searching the person under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act or making an arrest. Cameras, film and memory cards may be seized as evidence but there is no power for images to be deleted or film to be destroyed by officers.”

If section 43 with its powers to seize “cameras, film and memory cards” is misused in the same way that section 44 has been misused by the police then just think of the chilling effect this will have on photography in a public place.

And then we have Clause 83 of the new Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008.

“(1) A person commits an offence who–

“(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been–

“(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,”

A “Constable” is the legal term for all police officers. Elicits or attempts to elicit information” does that include taking a photograph and publishing it?

“(b) publishes or communicates any such information.”

Yep. And you can get 10 years for this one! And I all most forgot, every police force in Britain is going to be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners which will allow the police to carry out identity checks on people on the street.

Read the full article here!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Photos and names of Derbyshire FIT

The new Counter Terrorism Bill, currently in the lords, contains an amendment to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This amendment will make it an offence, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, to publish or elicit information about any police constable "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". There is no need for the person publishing the information to intend for it to be used for the purposes of terrorism.

Therefore, in the spirit of resistance, and defiance, here are some new names and numbers of Derbyshire FIT.

1438 M Bremmer

More names and photos to follow when blogger allows me to upload them!

Friday, 17 October 2008

FIT and EGT at Brighton

Spotted at the Shut ITT demo in Brighton, 15th October 2008.





1818 CO2558 2058




1558 (far left) 1818 (far right)


1818 CO996












More of the same, plus other photos from the day, in the Shut ITT set on Flickr.

Smash EDO - a fitwatchers perspective

Once again the ability of Smash EDO to stand up to police bullying and intimidation was impressive and inspiring. This was perhaps most obvious as the police blocked the march to the EDO factory and marchers stood their ground against police batons and pepper spray.

But it was noticable from the start in the way that people responded to the demands of FIT and evidence gatherers to co-operate with police filming, and to remove masks and face coverings, on threat of arrest. When a group in the centre of the crowd defiantly refused to remove their masks, those around them responded with solidarity and repeatedly drove the police back when they tried to move in to seize both masks and the people that were wearing them.

This meant that, as the march moved off, many people were wearing masks, and were able to preserve their anonymity in the face of a huge intelligence and data gathering operation.

The police used no less than ten evidence gathering teams (EGT), all armed with video cameras, too many for the normal fitwatch crew to deal with. But fitwatching was made effective by so many people joining in with scarves, flags and whatever came to hand, and the EGT were constantly hassled and were frequently forced to withdraw when they could get no useful footage.

Neither were the EGT on their own. Most of the Met police public order cops, and the rag tag bunch of ‘extremist watcher’ cops from around the country that Fitwatch flagged up on the spotter card, were indeed present, plus a few more besides. Despite such fire power, Smash EDO marchers were still able to do a brilliant job in messing with police ‘intelligence’.

There were a number of occasions during the day when the police were clearly outflanked and without a clue. On one occasion Met public order cop Steve Discombe was heard panicking into his radio, “What do you want us to do? We need to know what to do. Someone has to make a decision, now!”

Perhaps the most amusing moment came late on in the day when the police kettled and herded a crowd of a few hundred into the park at the Level, only to realise too late that they had forgotten to close off the other side. With police vans rushing around in panic trying to head them off, the marchers simply walked through the park and out the other side, unkettled and unherded. Surely heads will roll for that one!

All in all, Smash EDO were organised, strong, determined and inspiring, and I hope that Fitwatch played a small part at least in helping the day along.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Monday, 13 October 2008

Fitwatch at EDO

This is a call for all fitwatchers to head to Brighton to Smash EDO, and for all at Smash EDO to engage in a bit of fitwatching.

We know that the police will be very keen to document everyone who attends. They will photograph and monitor anyone they decide is 'of interest' and put the data on a central police database. They will also seek to intimidate and deter protesters, and will harass and hassle those they decide they don't like.

Fitwatch is an initiative that seeks to encourage people to protect themselves and others from the intimidation and harassment of police 'intelligence' gatherers.

To get the fitwatching off to a good start, we have put together a FITwatch spotter card. Feel free to print off a copy or two for use on the day. Of course, we don't have a crystal ball, and don't know for certain who will turn up. But we have picked out a few of the more likely suspects for you! Please pass on to us any additional info you may happen to discover.


There is no legal requirement to co-operate with police photography. You don't have to give them an unobstructed shot!

You have as much legal right to take their photographs as they do to take yours. Taking their photos is perfectly lawful and legitimate. Please send any photos (with ID numbers please!) to fitwatch at

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Freedom Not Fear - Anti-surveillance Day Sat 11th October - Scotland Yard

Seeing as the Freedom not Fear event in the UK is being held directly outside New Scotland Yard, home of the Forward Intelligence Teams, it would seem churlish for Fitwatch not to be there. After all, anti-surveillance is definitely our thing.
I would therefore like to invite all Fitwatch supporters to come along and say hello to our friends in CO11, who no doubt will be only too keen to come out and greet us.
Assemble 1pm

Monday, 29 September 2008

A BeneFIT for Freedom of Movement and against Repression!

On July 5th people demonstrated for freedom of movement and the right to protest at the home office buildings in Croydon. This party is apost event benefit for the demonstration and to support the people whowere charged for protesting the Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) in therun up to the demo. No Justice, No Peace!

Friday 3 October 2008,
Rampart Social Centre,
London E1 2LA
(near Whitechapel, off Commercial Rd)
from 8pm - 2am
Reggae, Roots and More

Friday, 26 September 2008

Fitwatch Meeting at London Anarchist Bookfair

Kicking the Forward Intelligence Teams off our streets.

Saturday 18th October
Room EB4A
Queen Mary and Westfield College (nearest tube Mile End)

This meeting is to build on the word done by Fitwatch to counteract police repression and intimidation.

Aimed at anyone who has experienced police intimidation and wants to do something about it.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Press Freedom: "Collateral Damage"

The National Union of Journalists have released Press Freedom: "Collateral Damage", a short film about police surveillance of journalists who document political dissent, written and directed by Jason N. Parkinson, and produced by Marc Vallée.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear also proposed a motion condemning the targeting of journalists by FIT teams, which was agreed at the TUC conference. There are more details and links with the film, which you can watch online, and on Marc Vallée's blog.

A tale of two trials

Over the last fortnight there has been two trials in London for Fitwatching activities, both for obstructing police cameras. The three defendants in the first trial were lucky enough to have lawyers representing them for free. The two defendants in the second trail were forced by lack of legal aid to defend themselves. The difference between the two trials could not have been more stark, nor give a clearer picture of the complete lack of justice in our criminal justice system.

There are solid legal arguments as to why obstructing police cameras is not unlawful. Some of these are quite complex, others relatively simple. The police have no more power than you or I to take photographs of people in the street. If I want to take a photograph and someone gets in the way, well, it’s just tough. Same applies to the police. No-one has ever given them the authority to use force or arrest in order to get the pictures they want.

There are other reasons too why FIT activities are less than completely lawful; the harassment of individuals who have committed no crimes, the intimidation of those who want to be involved in political protest, and unlawful data gathering and processing, to name but three!

Legal arguments were raised at both trials. When they were raised by lawyers in the first trial, they were taken seriously. When they were raised by ordinary, non-legally trained defendants in the second trial they were not. The District Judge just didn’t bother his head with them. “I’ve looked at your arguments, but I’m happy the police were obstructed in their duty, because that is the evidence they have given,” he said. In other words, ‘I can’t be bothered with all that legal stuff, I’ll just find you guilty because the nice policeman wants me to’. Fairness and impartiality at its very best.

Of course, none of us will be rocked by the shock headline of injustice in British courts. But at a time when legal aid is being cut back and back, it shows how much harder it is for unrepresented defendants to get anything like a fair hearing.

Fortunately the three defendants on trial at Horseferry Road magistrates court faired better, to the credit largely of a more reasonable District Judge and the two law firms who were prepared to give their services for free. Apart from the serious stuff it was interesting to hear Inspector Spence reveal his carefully contrived ‘plan’ to lure fitwatchers out of the crowd at the stop the war march in order to arrest them with his three units of back-up TSG. And amusing to hear PC Rooney talk of the ‘hundreds’ of protests he has been at where there had been a Fitwatch presence. Clearly we have been more effective than we thought!

This trial went part-heard, and will not now conclude until December. The defendants convicted at the second trial are considering thier appeal. If CO11 are celebrating a victory, I’d say they’re a bit too quick off the mark. There is everything still to play for.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Another Fitwatch Legal Victory

There was another legal victory today, as a fitwatcher was cleared of obstruct police at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. The charge arose out of the anti BNP protests on election night at City Hall.

This now brings the total of Fitwatch legal victories to - well in all honesty, I've lost track of the score. Oh, but I do remember their score. A big fat zero.

Fitwatchers were also in court yesterday, in a trial which went part heard and won't be continued until December. I wil leave it to someone who was there to write a proper account, but it was good to hear that DS Ken Norman from New Scotland Yard sat squirming, as his officers blundered their way through yet another Fitwatch trial.

These continued wrongful arrests and prosecutions are beginning to build into a very clear picture of unlawful harassment of fitwatchers. How many times are we going to be dragged through the courts before the cops finally accept intimidation is not part of their lawful duty?

Fitwatch is not about a few individuals, it is about a tactic - a tactic which has been adopted all over the country. We are not going away.

Keep up the pressure - join Fitwatch tactics at the Carnival Against Vivsection on September 6th.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fitwatch at Carnival Against Vivisection

Saturday 6th September, 12 Noon, Grass verge opposite Ledbury Train Station

The animal rights movement has suffered vast amounts of repression over the years - repression which only seems to be getting worse.

This call is for not only anyone attending the Carnival Against Vivisection to join in Fitwatch tactics, but also to encourage those who would not normally attend an animal rights event to join us. It is vital we act in solidarity with each other to tackle the FIT and police repression.

FIT are on the run, and even they are admitting the successfulness of what we are doing. Our tactics are working, and we need to keep up the pressure.

Join us, and join the fight back against police bullying and repression.

Fitwatch is a tactic to fight the FIT by all means necessary. Anyone can fitwatch, and it can be as confrontational or pacific as you want.

Another call for Fitwatch

FIT team photogs earn more than coppers

The following article was unashamedly copied from The Void. See original here:

FIT Team Photographers Earn More Than Coppers!

Well, it was like getting blood out of a stone but we finally got some answers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) about the FIT team photographers who’ve been following activists and footie fans round for the last few years.

As we’d already revealed the FIT Teams are not comprised of freelancers as some had suspected, but neither are they in any way coppers. According to the MPS: “The MPS does not recruit photographers specifically for FIT duties. All photographers are employed in a generic photographic capacity, later deployment in a FIT role is dependent on them volunteering to undertake this role and attaining the required physical fitness and skills required.” That’s right folks the bastards volunteer. And who can blame the money grabbing voyeurs. The MPS tell us that there are 10 Band P and 2 Band V forensic practitioners that undertake FIT duties as part of their general Scene of Crime duties. The salary of a Band V MPS employee is £32,455 rising to £38,058 and the 10 Band P snappers are paid between £26,336 and £32,455. With lowly constables starting on a salary of £29,847 on completion of training this seems a cushy option for blokes who stand around taking pictures all day. And they are all blokes. The MPS and all public bodies have a duty by law to ensure a diverse workforce and boast in their Race Equality Scheme (1) of recruitment initiatives targeting festivals, the minority press and even the Chinese Society Ball! Now far be it for us to call the MPS a bunch of racist bastards but this fluffy inclusivity doesn’t seem to apply to the goons who are increasingly being used to photograph, harrass and intimidate kids from ethnic communities (2)(3). We weren’t shocked to discover that all 12 photographers who undertake FIT Team duties are white males. The MPS tell us the last external recruitment of photographers was way back in February 2004 with positions advertised in the London Evening Standard and Job Centre Plus. Since then: “The MPS has been able to recruit photographers by advertising internally and utilising the skills and knowledge demonstrated by the successful candidates.” Which basically means jobs for the boys. Finally they weren’t able to give us the entire budget for FIT team operations which was a bit of a cop out. With the salaries listed above, plus on-costs and other ongoing recruitment costs we can make a vague guess that the photographers alone are costing the London taxpayer at the very least half a million a year. Which is yet another price we pay for the ever encroaching police state. The full response from the MPA can be read here (4) or for the full story head to the useful and fun (5). (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Bleating bobbies and the new crime of photography

After spending five days locked up (four of them in prison) for the heinous crime of taking a photograph of members of the West Yorkshire constabulary, I’m not much in the mood for the purile, senseless comments made on this blog by police officers.

“what? No new entries?”, bleats one of them, “no glorious victory at climate camp? Three words: ‘remanded in custody’”. Another is distinctly more threatening; “you got nicked and remanded to prevent you being a pain – this isn’t the first time it has happened and, for you, will not be the last.”

That the cops are using their (probably) work time to brag and gloat on this blog about getting two women remanded in custody is shocking, but revealing. I am quite sure that the police find Fitwatch tactics ‘a pain’, but that hardly justifies the harassment, intimidation and threats that we have had to put up with, not to mention the stress and uncertainty of being held on remand for a minor offence that we are not guilty of.

I was arrested at the main gate where I had been asked to take a picture of a police officer who was systematically stopping and searching all those attempting to leave the climate camp field. As I picked up my camera one of his colleagues stood in the way, blocking the shot ‘fitwatch’ style. Smiling at the irony of this, I took a step to one side and again raised my camera.

And that was that. Dragged away, thrown on the floor, searched, handcuffed, arrested, imprisoned. Most frustratingly I also missed the planned Fitwatch meeting at the climate camp and the chance to talk to others who are making use of the Fitwatch tactic.

Intimidating? Yes, of course it is. I’d be lying if I pretended otherwise, although I’m sure the admission will please the many cops that regularly read this site. But I do believe that the FIT tactic is now seriously under threat, and getting this surveillance harassment off our streets is starting to look like an achievable goal. For that I’m more than willing to spend a few days in HMP Bronzefield.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Thursday, 14 August 2008

FIT (and others) at 2008 Climate Camp, Kent

Most of these were shot at the rear gate (later dubbed the "Riot Gate" by protesters), scene of so many confrontations between cops and campers.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to get off-site during the mass day of action (I and a couple of other photographers had stayed in the camp to be on hand to document any "incidents" that may have occurred whilst numbers were diminished) so not sure what FIT presence was at the various actions that happened during the day.









Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Fitwatchers Remanded In Custody (and then released)

Three fitwatchers arrived at Climate Camp late morning on Friday. After going through the inital stop and searches with gritted teeth, they pitched their tents, had a cup of tea, and decided to take some photographs of the repressive policing operation at the front gate.

Within five minutes, they were wrestled to the ground and arrested on charges of obstruct police and assault police. At court the following morning, one activist was released on the condition he went straight home without picking up his tent. Two women were remanded in custody until Tuesday, "as the police were very anxious they would go back to camp", believing they would "breach any bail conditions", and "create a situation" whereby people would be "placed in fear of physical and mental injury". This was despite one woman having only been accused of the very minor charge of obstruct police.

Later that morning, in a non protesting related incident, a man who had breached his bail conditions from the previous week by getting nicked for fighting, was granted bail. Even the SERCO guards couldn't work out what was happening, and were very sympathetic.

Eventually, the women were released from HMP Brozefield late Tuesday afternoon, after having been granted unconditonal bail.

However, Fitwatch is not about a few people. It is about an attitude, a tactic - a tactic which has been very much in evidence throughout Climate Camp week. People photographed and documeted the FIT, tried to block their cameras, and gave a robust response when they tried to enter the camp. The two Fitwatchers they remanded were at home, hundreds of miles away, when these things happened.

Imprisoning two people will not alter this shift in attitude towards the FIT. It is becoming part of activist culture to challenge rather than ignore. And there is no doubting their job is getting harder (and out of interest did anyone spot PC Pritchard MD862 at Climate Camp? Or is it bye bye Wes!?)

It is amazing and inspiring to see the number of people who were still able and willing to take direct action following a week of unprecedented repression. Even people used to repressive policing found it intimidating, and it is great that people stood their ground and went out to stop the power plant.

However, we have to tackle this repression. We have to build effective strategies so we do not allow ourselves to queue up to be searched, where we don't allow the police the opportunity to build databases of every person who attends a protest.

Locking up a couple of fitwatchers for a few days only strengthens their ability and resolve to fight back. Systematically and violenting repressing hundreds of people will have a similar result. There will be a backlash. We will all fight back.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Celebrate Fitwatch's 1st Birthday at Climate Camp

This year's Climate Camp will also celebrate Fitwatch's first outing to a major protest. Since then we have gone from strength to strength.

Use Fitwatch tactics all week, and join us to celebrate our anniversary on the day of mass action (9th August). Together we can render the FIT ineffective, and you too can experience the pleasure of forcing a cameraman to retreat.

During the year, we have received criticism on our blog for being "professional protesters". However, we agree. We take protest seriously. We want to be effective, and to do this we need reclaim our anonymity.

Fitwatch - bring the professional back into protesting!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Sergeant Gerry Parker, Z8349, Essex FIT / FSU

Gerry harasses Essex youth as part of Operation Leopard.

Gerry is also very concerned about climate change.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Greenwash Guerillas

On 16th July the Greenwash Guerillas staged a demo outside London's Business Design Centre which was hosting the Guardian Climate Change Summit, sponsored by e.on

I was collared for a stop & search and was "advised" that the cops would be policing the event "rigorously".

So where were all the FIT?

One identifiable FIT officer (N1 340), liaising with a couple of other - what looked like - wannabe FITs... or absent the so-familiar yellow/blue jackets?



_G105966 _MG_6336



Monday, 7 July 2008

Fitwatch: The Story So Far

It's been just over a year since we started a concerted campaign against the FIT Teams, so we thought it was time we celebrated some of our achievements.

FIT no longer feel safe on our demonstrations. According to their own statements, they have felt "intimidated" by our tactics, and we have at times, rendered their intelligence gathering operations "ineffective". We have seen several demonstrations where the cameraman has had to be "withdrawn", and we have shown we can do this even when our numbers are small.

In June last year, I wrote "The cops are so comfortable outside our meetings they think they don’t need back up. Four cops and a photographer feel safe outside our meetings." This is no longer the case. There were ten officers at the London Fete meeting, and they called in a van of TSG to back them up.

Despite numerous arrests, they have yet to secure a conviction. Trials have seen judicial review threatening senior crown prosecutors wheeled out to unsuccessfully take on unrepresented defendants. Evidence has included statements from Superintendents, and the printing out of the contents of this blog.

On the streets, we have been part of a general trend in changing the psychology of demos. Increasingly, people are refusing to be pushed around, and more willing to take on the police. Forcing a photographer to withdraw from the crowd is like pushing through a police line - it shows resistance can be successful. It shows we can change the dynamic of a situation.

We've got a long way to go, but after years of subjugation, we've started fighting back, and the effects are visible. Let's keep up the pressure and see what we can achieve in another year.

From Zero Tolerance to Zero Arrests

Last weekend's London Fete/No Borders protest in Croydon saw a tough new practice enforced in public order policing - a zero arrest policy. Well, tough if you're a cop anyway. The assembled TSG and FIT on the ground were none too happy with this innovative tactic, and instead responded with the time honoured boot and fist approach.

However, the assembled crowd, whilst small, showed they would not be pushed around by these bullies. Early in the demo, whilst we were still in the centre of Croydon handing out papers, the cops tried to bring out a photographer. Within seconds, he was swamped with people waving banners, pieces of paper and hands in front of the camera rendering him completely ineffective. The FIT were forced into a situation where they either sparked a confrontation in a busy shopping centre, or they withdrew the camera. They chose the path of least resistance, and left to jeers from Fitwatchers.

Later, away from the hordes of Saturday shoppers, they became more violent, both in keeping the march off the road, and in defending the cameraman. However, the crowd were not subjugated, and pushed back, fighting against this intimidation.

No arrests were made, and despite being drastically outnumbered, many people were left feeling empowered by the experience.

Congratulations CO11 - we love your zero arrest policy - long may it continue!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fitwatch at G8 protests

4th July - Japanese Embassy - 12pm - 101-104 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7JT

5th July - London Fete Against the G8 - 12pm - Croydon Central, North End, Close to the entrance of Whitgift ShoppingCentre

FIT on the rampage - Carnival For Full Enjoyment, Edinburgh, G8 2005.

When writing a call against police tactics for an anti G8 protest, it would be very easy to concentrate on repression. Most G8 protests have, after all, attracted widespread repression.
However, we thought it would be nicer to focus on the last major G8 protests in the UK, and the memory of cameraman Neal Sinclair lying face down in a rose garden.
Join us for similar rosy memories, and be a thorn in the side of the FIT team.
Fitwatch is a tactic to fight the FIT by all means necessary.
Anyone can fitwatch, and it can be as confrontational or pacific as you want.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Call out From SHAC for Fitwatchers at National Demo

It's the SHAC national march and rally in a few weeks, time to make ourselves heard and to show Huntingdon that SHAC will never back down. Even if corrupt lawyers and judges think it necessary to trample on our rights.

Based on the escalation of police activity recently as seen on the recent anti-war marches and the smash EDO carnival it can be assumed that Foward Intelligence (FIT) will be out and about intimidating protesters for this march too.

On that basis it would be good if we could get some people out and about documenting the police activity and if necessary confronting it head on by blocking their abilities to take photos with signs and banners.

If you don't know what someone from FIT looks like just look for the overweight coppers hanging around with the ridiculously oversized cameras.

The march and rally will be taking place in Peterborough July 12th meeting 11am at the Stanley recreation ground, with the protest heading off to the gates of HLS after the march.

For further information see -

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

..and one new name

Allow me to introduce
ZD 45,
Darin James Birmingham.

A few FIT pics from the Bush demo 15th June

For future reference:
CW4036 with photog; YB 180; YE 88; ZT174; CW3055; CW 1864
From article on Indymedia here:

Friday, 20 June 2008

Local Immigration Teams to be Introduced Across the UK

Apologies for this not being directly related to FIT... but I can foresee FIT's remit being extended even further!


"New Local Immigration Teams are being introduced across the UK, alongside Local Crime Partnerships with police, as part of a major refocus of the work of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced today. Around 7,500 UKBA officers and staff up and down the UK will be reorganized into 70-80 Local Immigration Teams and given a clear mission to focus on local immigration crime...

Each local team will enforce the full range of immigration laws, concentrating on intelligence gathering, the disruption of illegal activity, tracking down and detaining immigration offenders and failed asylum seekers, and tackling illegal working. The new teams will work shoulder-to-shoulder with police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and local partner agencies, in a new series of partnerships announced today. Staff in Birmingham, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool and Sheffield will also fingerprint foreign nationals applying for their ID cards from November this year."

You can read the full article here

New Names for The Collection

A couple of familiar faces we know have names for:

ZD4 - Joe Ross

And here he is with his partner, ZD57, Glenn Williams.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Friday, 13 June 2008

Fitwatch at Anti Bush Demo

Last week, the Carnival Against the Arms Trade saw large numbers of people effectively tackling FIT.

In Brighton, we had them on the run. Now let's see if we can do it in London.

Join in Fitwatch tactics at the anti-Bush demo, Sunday 15th June, 5pm, Parliament Square.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

"You Can Stick Your FIT Team Up Your Arse!" - a personal account of fitwatching at the Carnival Against The Arms Trade

Smash EDO's Carnival Against the Arms Trade was one of the best actions I've been to in a long time for a variety of reasons. It was heartening to see so many people starting to confront police cameras, and even more empowering to see so many police lines broken.

I've confined my highlights to fitwatching for the purpose of the blog, but this is not intended to take away from any of the other wonderful things that happened.

Attempting to keep the Evidence Gathering Teams away from the very impressive looking bloc at the start of the march was a lot of fun. We literally had them on the run. By the end, we simply had to approach them with our banners and flags, and they'd leg it down the road. They spent the majority of the march unable to get clear shots, and people on the bloc thanked us for keeping them away.

The anti-fit chanting from the march was brilliant, and acted as solidarity for fitwatchers. It can often feel slightly isolating being outside the main mass of people, and this made us feel as though we were still part of the march.

When we arrived, an EG team thought they could escape us by climbing a hill. They were quickly surrounded, and had to beat a hasty retreat. It was a lovely sight to see the number of people pouring up the hill after them.

Two petty (or is that pretty?) sights from the day - Steve Discombe losing the plot, screaming and swinging his baton, and Ian Skivens getting splattered in white paint. Unfortunately, I didn't witness the latter, but have been reliably informed it was a sight to behold.

I don't want this post to sound facile, and I know it's not about having fun. But being empowered after so many years of them calling the shots is fun. The tables are turning. We are coming back. It'll take a while, nothing ever happens overnight. But slowly, we will build a new, effective street movement, a movement which will not be pushed around by the cops, a movement that will not tolerate harassment and intimidation. A movement ready and willing to fight back.

Fitwatch will not do this by itself, but it is part of changing the psychology of demonstrations. I'm bored of hearing "Whose Streets? Our Streets?" being chanted as the cops pen us in. Whose streets? Let's think about that one, and let's reclaim those streets.

"No Justice! No Peace! Fuck the police! " Come on then...anyone coming to the anti-Bush demo on 15th?...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

FIT in Skegness!

From the Skegness Standard:

PC Terry Standbrook...

"A NEW community beat manager has been appointed for Spilsby, Wainfleet and Burgh le Marsh...

...He is a trained tutor and looks after probationary officers when they begin their careers. He is also a fully trained member of the Police Support Unit and Forward Intelligence Team."

Read the full article here

Monday, 9 June 2008

More pics from Brighton

A few more shots from the Carnival Against the Arms Trade where I've managed to decipher collar numbers. These all appear to be local intelligence-gatherers rather than FIT proper...


CS5 EGT (with camera)
_MG_5551 _MG_5529

CC268 EGT and CP581 EGT

CC728 EGT on the right