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Policewatch Films

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

FIT teams admit they are out to disrupt, not just to watch.

“FIT deployment was highly effective and gained good intelligence and disruption”.

That was the view of a FIT co-ordinator of the operation at Kingsnorth Climate Camp last year.

A FIT Silver commander also commended the way that Kent police had used their ANPR (automatic number plate reader) to pick up protesters vehicles so that they could be stopped, questioned and searched. “an innovative use of legislation for disruption”, he applauded.

These are the remarkably frank comments contained in the Structured Debrief of Climate Camp policing. This was produced by the NPIA, the National Policing Improvement Agency, the structure which is supposed to spread best practice around the police forces.

In this case the best practice appears to be using legislation other than for the purposes it was intended, and doing their best to ‘disrupt’ protest.

The accompanying report from South Yorkshire police confirms the involvement of FIT in directing stop and search, and reveals that the massive collection of personal details through stop and search forms almost proved too much for police resources. “The capacity of the intelligence cell was clearly challenged when the scale of PACE/1 form submission became a reality.”

Stop and search legislation was written with the express intention of NOT allowing police to collect personal details in this way. So this must be yet another example of police interpreting legislation in an ‘innovative’ way.

Not only do the police feel confident in being able to bend the law as they see fit, they are arrogant enough to brag about it in a public document. Astounding.


Anonymous said...

You need to discriminate between lawful and unlawful protest.
Climate camp was trespassing on private land and had the stated intent of closing Kingsnorth Power station - disrupting such unlawful protest is the duty of the Police. The same applies at Ratcliffe - a planned unlawful protest was disrupted by early intervention. Criminal prosecution follows where there is sufficient evidence to support charge.

FIT watcher said...

Trespassing on private land - a civil offence surely? Climate Camp is not a person, and treating everyone who attends, as guilty of some yet uncommitted crime, isn't making you coppers look too smart.

Anonymous said...

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 section 68 will do for their purposes...

Actually, having read the document, I was more concerned with the facts that

a)Plod on the ground didn't know what search powers were in effect.
b)Section 44 sounds like it was not in effect.

Whilst I can see a case for the police not answering the question "Is section 44 currently in force?" - I don't think they have a valid reason to refuse to answer "Was Section 44 in use here at 10.55am on Tuesday last week".

On that basis, perhaps more people with section 44 issues at demonstrations might want to try their luck...


jonsparta said...

Fit watcher,

Yes i would normally agree but in this case the stated aims of the Climate Camp was to cause the closer of the power station. So this then changes to:

Aggravated Trespass
The offence of aggravated trespass is committed when a person trespasses on land when a lawful activity is taking place on that land or land nearby and he or she does anything intending to intimidate, obstruct or disrupt that activity.

Just think of it this way: i am going to set up a camp on your property to stop you using that nasy polluting car and to make sure you cut down on waste and that you recycle your crap etc...

Yeah not quite that same but you get my point. Also why attend at this Climate Camp, just to watch or to take part either way they ARE NOT SUPPPOSE TO BE THERE.

jonsparta said...

Awww. the problem always comes down to search powers...PACE is badly written but funny that the gov will not do a white paper into it. Its in need of a major review.

FIT watcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FIT watcher said...

There weren't many arrests for aggravated tresspass, were there? And I doubt that they'd have stuck if there had been.

Quite possibly because the relevant section refers to adjoining land which isn't quite the same thing as "land nearby"

jonsparta said...

Hmmm. Still its the law and its for the courts to decide and how do you known it would not have resulted in convictions? Are you a judge? Land nearby or adjoining land...sounds pretty similar but the point is it was still trespassing.

As i always say to victims at court:

This is a court of law not a court of justice.

Anonymous said...

Jonsparta, climate camp was on land owned by someone that gave permission for the camp to use it. It was not 'trespass' for anyone to be on that land and therefore could be in no sense 'aggravated trespass'. Some persons may or may not have planned to leave the camp to trespass on the land own by the power station, even then it is not clear it would be 'aggravated trespass' unless they actually acted in a way that was intended to obstruct, disrupt or intimidate – if for example they 'trespassed' to hang a banner on a fence they would not be acting with intent to 'obstruct, disrupt or intimidate'.

jonsparta said...

In the end, why should a owner of private land put up with protest about what it happening on 'land nearby' or 'adjoining land'.

Again can i set up my camp in your garden and start my personal crusade against your polluting life style? Nope? thought not.

jonsparta said...

04 August 2009 06:52.

Point taken. Happy to be corrected. But according to people there, that is what they stated was their aims to obstruct and/or disrupt the runnin of the power station. Again could have been hot air from some of the protesters. Still, i really would not want my power supply to my house, work place, local hospital etc be affected. Not bothered about government buildings thou.

FIT watcher said...

"In the end, why should a owner of private land put up with trespassing..."

Perhaps he was more concerned about the power station than his field being used?

"Land nearby" is somewhat vague - how near is nearby - 1 mile, 10 miles, 100 miles? It certainly wasn't adjoining and if as a commenteer says, the land owner decided he was okay with people using the field, it wasn't trespass at all.

Anonymous said...

Jonsparta, you don't seem to get the point, Climate Camp had permission to be on the land by the land owner. Let me say that again, climate camp were in no way trespassing they had permission to be on the land. Climate camp was not trespassing.

If people exited the camp to trespass, such incidents are the choice of such individuals. These incidents – if you believe in law and order, which is your only justification for force as a cop – must be dealt with under the existing law, whether that is fair or not. The existing law makes a distinction between civil and criminal trespass and cops must respect that.

jonsparta said...

04 August 2009 07:10

Yes i did, i refer to my earlier post. I respect the law and the powers it gives me. I was making the point of the general powers to police via trespassing. Personally i have arrested for trepassing but this is usually if person it caught say someones back garden or secure compound and have no reason to be there (this is used if you cant prove a burglary has happened or about too. If we use the civil route then again, arrest possibly not. I would ask for their details to do a Report for Summons or a NIP. If they refused to give details, then i would be left with no way to issue summons or a NIP so what should i do?

I cant leave them there, so arrest for a BoP or other public order offence. This would means trip to the cells in order to get details so i can issue the above. It would be easier just to be able to get details then issue the summons or NIP but most of the time protesters dont want to do that or leave the area.

Anonymous said...

Jonsparta, you cannot arrest someone for 'trespass' as this is a civil offence. If you choose to make an arrest for a 'breach of the peace' there is a different test you must apply. Case law establishes a BoP as ‘an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person, or in his presence, his property, or is likely to cause such harm being done’. Of course if you believe that force could be used to remove the person trespassing by the land owner then in the courts eyes this test would be satisfied as it 'is likely to cause such harm being done'. However, I think it would not be possible to show this if the building was empty or it was otherwise unlikely that someone would use such force.

You ask what you should do if someone is on someone else's land and you want there details, well I don't know what you should do – but you have surrendered your sense of personal morality totally to government in the form of law, it is not for you to judge if the law is right or wrong.

Really Fit said...

Martin - you are right that this report accepts that the police did not have a proper legal basis for the stop and searches carried out in the initial part of the camp.

Initially, searches were carried out under s1 PACE which was amended just a couple of years ago to allow police to search for articles that can be used to commit criminal damage, if they have reasonable suspicion that someone may be carrying such things. This cannot lawfully be used as a blanket provision, which is what the police were doing. So the police have conceded that searches carried out under s1 PACE were not in most incidents lawful. Anyone searched under this provision should consider a civil action against the police as they may have been unlawfully detained.

After a while an order was put in place allowing searches to be carried out under s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. This requires a senior police officer to believe that incidents involving serious violence may occur. Kent police obviously didnt believe this, which is why they did not initially put a s60 order in place. This provision does allow blanket stop and searches, and these searches were lawful as long as the s60 order was lawfully obtained. Which it may not have been.

I am not aware that there was any use of s44, which is a provision to search under terrorism legislation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Really Fit...

I watched a number of videos about the Climate Camp, and I thought many of the protesters claimed to have been stopped under Sect 44 Terrorism 2000.

I take your point on PACE - but you would think that serving officers would know the law - I can forgive them not knowing obscure stuff, but you'd think they'd bone up on Stop and Search...


Anonymous said...

anon 0805 said "an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person, or in his presence, his property, or is likely to cause such harm being done"

The stated intention of shutting down a power station would apply as 'an act threatened to be done which would likely cause such harm" would mean that an arrest for BoP would apply - and so the requirements for details for summons to remove the necessity for arrest - as this increases the risk of traffic accidents due to a sudden black out, and would put vulnerable people at risk in their homes.

Anonymous said...

There's been a lot said about "threats to shut down the power station" but who actually made these threats? One group of protestors, one protestor, or one anonymous person claiming to be a protestor?

Also, what was the wording of these threats? Did a large group of people all come out and say "we intend to shut down the power station by breaking in tomorrow". Or was "intelligence received from anonymous sources" coupled with public statements that protestors would like to "shut the power station down" which could mean by legal means (such as protesting and getting it banned from operating by the government).

If I anonymously contact the media and say that I'm a police officer and I plan to kill somebody, should all police officers be immediately arrested on suspicion of being about to murder someone?

If not, then why should all protestors at a legal gathering be assumed to have made a threat that was made by one person or one small group of people?

FIT watcher said...

The 'threats' were made on the climate camp website:

"The direct action at the camp will take many forms. The main thing to note is that everything you do is your own choice. Some people will go to the camp and not go on the day of action, nor organise their own protests and actions. Others, pressed for time, are planning on only coming for the day of mass action - on Saturday August 9th - where thousands of us will collectively shut down Kingsnorth power station giving a powerful statement that we will not accept another being built there."

And they also stated clearly that it would all be down to individual choice. The OTT policing started well before the date given, and everyone who attended was subject to it, despite the fact that many who attended had no intention of doing anything illegal.

The camp and action have led to a debate on the false claims that coal fired power stations can be run in a way that doesn't do further damage to the environment, and the governments chief adviser on Climate Change has since stated that the new power plant should not be built.

By abusing the law, and treating everyone else as law abusers, the police have contributed to another debate - Is modern policing done by consent? And the answer would appear to be a resounding NO!

Jonsparta has led us to on a wild strawman search, but the question still hasn't been answered - where does FIT get the power to disrupt the activities of people who have committed no crime?

Another thing that the report revealed was that the 'Intelligence" provided by FIT is too unwieldy and unreliable to be of any real use in informing how the protest should be policed.

Is FIT fit for purpose? The answer is also an unresounding NO!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting that the public statement was that thousands of protestors would shut down the power station like they'd done with BAA's headquarters.

Yet, the police needed to search people going into Climate Camp (not into the grounds of the power station) to look for objects that might be used in carrying out the threat.

I wonder if they found anybody with thousands of people in their pocket.

Anonymous said...

Gathering in a field is not a crime - so why stop and search everyone going to, and leaving, that gathering?

The cops remit is to stop unlawful activity. They could (and did) flood Kingsnorth power station with police and caught people trying to climb fences etc. Those people knew the risks of arrest and chose to do so. Fair do's.

The Police were acting on behalf of the state and private company E.on while repressing attendees at the Climate Camp, using unlawful tactics to stop and search, and a seven day campaign of violence and intimidation ie psychological pressure (helicopter at night and playing loud music to deprive people of sleep, tooling up into riot gear to keep people on edge etc. etc. and the constant surveillance by FIT, including filming people as they came and went from toilets. The FIT were there, as they admitted, to 'disrupt' the gathering, and be part of the psychological pressure put on campers.

All these are NOT the remit of the police, who had plenty of numbers to deal with any actual unlawful activity. Ordinary plod 'just obeying orders' should rail against the blatant use by their political masters to use police officers to pressure and intimidate people, whose main stated intention was to draw attention to climate chaos caused by coal burning power stations.

You plod on here should really wake up and complain about being used in this way to protect a private company.

And by the way, how much did E.on, a foreign owned, multimillion pound company, contribute to the cost of policing, as much poorer football clubs do?