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Policewatch Films

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!