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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

16th February: Mass Resistance to Taking Photographs of Police Officers Becoming a Terrorist Offence

The new Counter Terrorism Act will come into force on 16th February. It 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 16th February. Show we won't be intimidated, or called terrorists for resisting or monitoring repressive policing.

Fitwatch are one of the groups who could be targeted by this new legislation. Fitwatch, started two years 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 – http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com/ – 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!!!

Other ways to get involved see:
http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=838048
http://www.pledgebank.com/s76photo

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

How Childish!

mcaliskey said...

we've been through this 'childish' bit before. i think it's quite immature to use comparison to children as a put-down. it's no great surprise that recent research showed there's never been a worse time to be a child in this country, and i wouldn't be surprised if, in particular, there's never been a worse time to be a child round yours.

the crux of the matter is the level of policing we as a society are prepared to tolerate. this new law has nothing to do with terrorist targeting of the police, as that simply doesn't happen under the current so-called threat. we're not confronted by the ira targeting members of the english, scottish or welsh police, but by an overweening police force which increasingly seeks to be above the law. the cop response to the murders of people like harry stanley or jean charles de menezes is that their killers can't possibly face trial; now we see this potentially taken a step further and publication of information in the public interest of details of killer cops criminalised.

on a more basic level, this measure cuts at the heart of policing by consent, because if you can't find out who's policing you and disseminate that information without the danger of facing charges, how are the police accountable? toothless police authorities have already been restricted by the home secretary's power to over-rule them. as this law tends towards making the police an anonymous force without any real restraint and with a plethora of laws to silence dissent, not even parliament is immune from their malign attentions.

of course, passing a law doesn't mean that all of a sudden everyday policing practice will undergo a seachange. but with the drip of such laws removing the police from scrutiny by the communities they affect to serve and adding increasing numbers of repressive powers the police are ever more divorced from the community. it's not childish to resent such a progression, nor is it childish to continue to protest against the increasing arrogance of a police force which devotes more resources to one day of repressing dissent than a london borough receives in a year to combat genuine anti-social behaviour.

the police and government appropriation of 'anti-social behaviour' to mean behaviour they find anti-social, rather than behaviour which impacts negatively on the community and the use of anti-social behaviour orders shows the way that what parliament intended is manipulating and twisted by the authorities. in the same way, it won't be long until the new legislation is used in the same fashion, to undermine dissent and to augment the power of the police. to oppose this trend is, i suggest, more worthy of plaudits than pisspoor put-downs.

Metcountymounty said...

If one person is ever convicted in this country of JUST taking a photograph of a Police officer then I'll eat my own head. I've had my picture taken thousands of times by tourists, paps, freelance photogs etc whilst on duty and it won't change after this legislation either.

The legislation is to stop hostile reconnaissance, specific targeting and harassment of intelligence resources like covert teams and security services because whether you believe it or not, the threat is real and determined. You have no clue what the people targeting the population of this country are like. They will kill you, your entire family and everyone you know without a second thought if they get the chance.

As for teams like the IRA specifically targeting and attacking police officers, you're wrong and they still are at it which is why we still have to inform special branch of all travel to Eire or northern Ireland. There are still other people who will attack officers or their families over here for no other reason than they are Police officers whether they are involved in CT work, demos or just work on a response team.

I know of officers who's wives and kids have been assaulted, who's homes have been attacked and who have been followed home and attacked going off duty. I've had people I've arrested try and follow me home for doing my job (GBH and sexual assault in a club and not some fucking pathetic demo shite before you ask) and there are gangs in London who have stated openly that they will pay to have an officer killed.

The threat to this country is real and the threat to Police officers lives and their families is real.

Grow up.

FIT Watch said...

MCM - you are the one who needs to grow up. You are either hopelessly naive or ignorant as to the level of police state in this country.

People have already been threatened with this legislation for taking photos of cops. Freelance journalists are constantly hassled and harassed by the police. On street level, it is likely this legislation will be used to threaten people across the board who take photos of cops.

The sort of people who want to target covert resources or follow police officers home will still do so regardless of this legislation because they are already risking serious sentences by their actions.

Do you think the police will try and put an end to this blog through this legislation? Do you think some fitwatchers will be targeted by this legislation? Because if you don't, you are in a very definite minority - and this is including many non activists.

This type of repression must be challenged. The police force are supposed to be public servants, and if the public cannot hold the police force accountable, and document what they do, then there is a serious problem.

mckaliskey said...

mcm

do you think this law will provide any protection for these hard-done-by old bill? there's powers enough already under the stalking legislation to stop people following you home and trying to find out where you live. i'm surprised you didn't mention that as a possible remedy to harassment.

as for people allegedly targeting this country, the provisional ira have, according to authoritative reports, disbanded. the rira and cira don't have the capability to bowl about london blowing up cops - i think the taxi bomb in west london some years ago was the last time there was a republican attack on london. and anyone who knows anything about terrorist reconnaissance - and there are plenty of reports about it on the internet, eg 'freedom and information' on the rand website - concludes that the information necessary for reconnanissance is out there, freely available, and a terrorist doesn't need to go out and endanger themselves by wandering round westminster or glasgow airport. the advent of google streets, like google earth, will make the terrorist's life easier. as for the jihadis, if the government hadn't effectively invited them in under the covenant of security then they would hardly be a problem now.

what this act prohibits, or aims to prohibit, is the eliciting and publishing of information. this would seem not to mean gaining information through human interaction, through asking questions, and not through following someone. it is unlikely that simply tracking someone to find out where they live would fall within the purview of this act, should someone be charged and tried for it.

and as for people paying to have a cop killed, everyone knows that 95% of apparent hitmen are cops, if not engaged in entrapment then engaged in foiling the plot. saying you're going to hire someone is a very different thing from putting your money where your mouth is and getting it done. i don't believe there's ever been a cop in this country killed by a hired assassin, despite your bombast and bluster.

and bluster's all it seems to be. there's very little of substance in your post germane to discussion of this new law. it won't protect the families of serving police officers. it won't prevent people talking about killing cops - these gangs are hardly terrorists in the commonly understood sense of using violence to pursue a political aim, are they?

if i was a member of an organization whose members kept getting attacked because of their work, at some point it might occur to me to ask why this kept happening and what could be done to prevent it. it might also come to mind that i could be doing a job which did not attract assault as an occupational hazard. if members of the police and their families are subject to such attentions, it could be that they are doing something right. it is more likely, though, that attacks occur less because of the effectiveness of the officers concerned and more because of police behaviour in general and the behaviour of these individual officers in particular. the poor behaviour of the police can, i feel, be judged by the fact that while everyone i know has one story about a decent copper, they have quite a few more about the dodgy cops they've met.

i know that few people who dislike cops do so from a complex analysis of the role of the police within society; 99% of people who don't like the police will have arrived at that position through concrete experience of the police. but putting in laws which place the police on a pedastal and make them special case - like assault cop or this new law - increase antipathy towards the police, as there is no reason why one citizen should have any more protection from the law than another on the grounds of their economic activity. if you want to stop people attacking cops and their families, remove the reasons for them doing so and you'll have peace. alternatively, you could arm cops with tasers and watch as faith in the police plummets. although i don't doubt that some villains will target the police for dealing with real anti-social behaviour, the police themselves are to blame for the vast majority of the resentment and hatred they encounter in their everyday lives.

mckaliskey said...

oops! an errant 'not' creapt into my post above - the relevant paragraph SHOULD read:

what this act prohibits, or aims to prohibit, is the eliciting and publishing of information. this would seem to mean gaining information through human interaction, through asking questions, and not through following someone. it is unlikely that simply tracking someone to find out where they live would fall within the purview of this act, should someone be charged and tried for it.

Anonymous said...

where have all the coppers gone?

Anonymous said...

PS Comment
Starbucks, drinking free coffee, taking photos.......Thats what its all about. We are actaully doing a NVQ in photography of 'Crustias Humanous', a rare breed that does not like to be snapped!

Anonymous said...

yeh i've seen them - ht688, cw2073, ht913. got pics of them all.

Anonymous said...

Metcountymounty: "If one person is ever convicted in this country of JUST taking a photograph of a Police officer then I'll eat my own head."

What of all the people who will be arrested, held in the cells for 10 hours, have their houses searched, DNA taken, and get dragged through the works, only to have the charges later dropped? Sometimes dropped the same day, or sometimes dropped months later.

I personally know people who've had their spurious charges dropped by the CPS the morning their case appeared in court, almost a year after the supposed "offence" was committed, and after numerous opportunities in which to drop it. In fact, the case I'm referring to was dropped because of evidence provided by the police which clearly showed that there were no grounds for arrest!

Charges dropped or not, do you even care what effect these kind of events have on somebody's life?

And that is the point! It doesn't matter whether any laws have actually been broken, because even the process of being found innocent (or not even charged) is stressful enough to ruin somebody's life for quite some time.

Since the IPCC are such a joke, cops who maliciously (and often violently) arrest people and subject them to these kind of tactics can already do so with impunity.

No apologies are given, and in many ways it is impossible to give any sort of meaningful compensation to an innocent person for subjecting them to this.

This "no photos" law gives carte blanche to the police to do more of the same, to anybody they feel like, and under even less scrutiny.

"Convictions" and "the law" are irrelevant, because these days the process of establishing innocence is sufficiently nasty to be counted as a punishment in it's own right.

In cases involving a clearly innocent person who has done nothing other than peacefully express dissent (as is the case with my friend), the viciousness of the arrest process is carried out to it's full extent, just to make them think twice about doing "it" again, even though "it" was not actually illegal.

THAT is why we already live in a police state.

Anonymous said...

I hope MCM is ready to eat his own head as someone has now been arrested over this stupid statue...its not law...anything with 'act' after it is a statue not law...rather its a force of law which is different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvFz16HOHjo&feature=player_embedded

minxy1 said...

well done fitwatch i totally agree with what you are doing...i too have had a terribly vicious experience or two at the hands of these pigs who think they can do whatever they like and never be held to account. They have arrested me for harassment even though i was being harassed. I argued this point at the time of arrest (i am a tiny woman with a child). One particular officer PC KIPPS of Basildon Police Station terrorised me swearing at me in front of my scared and confused child and then spat in my face! My ex boyfriend beat me up quite severely and a PNC officer friend of his made a statement that he never touched me even though i had an ambulance report stating different! Disgusting. I think its time the police were governed by the same laws as the rest of us. I have never had a good experience of the police even when i was a victim of crime. Absolute pigs. As for the police officer who said he would eat his own head...i do hope he does then there will be one less megalomaniac walking the streets in a uniform paid for by THE PEOPLE only to be used against those very same people as a way of enacting out their sadist perversions of being in charge. How comes in today's society this behaviour is allowed to go on. It is disgusting and i am most certainly not alone. The police are in my eyes lesser beings than animals and really to call them pigs is an insult to any living thing.

minxy1 said...

How can i become a member of your organisation? I have never joined anything before but i feel so strongly about this i would like to become an active member especially if it means "outing" these bullies. I want to see your organisation grow and i know it will. The way the police are going including ya average bobby on the beat (rude arrogant shits!) it wont be long before every citizen in the country have joined you. What a joke the law is. From personal experience and the experiences of people i know we do live in a police state where they can do what they want to whoever they want. They can arrest you just for asking "why". Its an absolute disgrace and i applaud you for all you are doing. Much respect to you all. No doubt i will find i am breaking some kind of law for leaving names of police officers on your site? Think i forgot to mention the name of the PNC officer who made a totally false statement regarding the assault on me. She lied through her teeth and her name is Anita Manning she also misuses the national police computer to get information for several criminals.

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