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Friday, 21 August 2009

How 'charming' will the Met be at this year's climate camp?


As the open letter from climate camp to the Met clearly states, the police do not have a happy record when it comes to climate camp. There have been blanket stop and searches, long periods of containment, and endlessly invasive surveillance. FIT have had a prominent role, and a carte blanche to do what they want, accumulating personal data from stop and search, and obtaining photographic images of everyone attending. At Kingsnorth last year even journalists were hassled, followed and filmed, while FITwatchers were violently arrested and held for four days in prison for taking photos of police officers and asking for their numbers.

This year it will all be different, we are told. The Met will be smiley and chatty, happy to communicate and negotiate with protesters. There'll be no heads busted or shields shoved in people's faces, no kettling, no night flights from the helicopter, no verbal abuse from police officers and no unlawful stop and searches.

The Met have promised a a "'community-style' policing operation that will limit the use of surveillance units and stop-and-searches wherever possible." according to the Guardian. Which sounds good. But what exactly does 'wherever possible' mean? And how much will surveillance be 'limited'?

According to the legal team, the police have said that "searches and FIT will not be over used as a tactic but FIT will be present as the Camp forms and people arrive and for the swoop." Presumably, once everyone has arrived, and they have taken the pics and identified this years prime 'targets', the FIT will be content to take a less prominent role anyway. As was documented in the report of policing on Kingsnorth, they have their covert surveillance operatives to take over then anyway.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, perhaps?



21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why not give them the benefit of the doubt, and see what happens? It's not like you have any real choice anyway - you can't ban them from attending...

Yes, the police have shown disgusting behaviour in the past, and I agree with you that they're unlikely to be whiter than white now - but if when they claim to have realised their mistakes we never give them a chance to demonstrate the change in their attitude, how is anyone supposed to move forward?

Martin

Really Fit said...

All very well, but they can hardly have 'realised their mistakes' about data gathering when they have stated that FIT teams will be present for the setting up of the camp.

I am sure they will not go around hitting people this time, or do anything that looks bad on the cameras. Climate camp has established a media interest that will give them a fair bit of protection.

But just because the police have become media savvy, doesn't mean they are at least as controlling as they were before.

And we (that is Fitwatch, climate camp, general public) do have a choice over whether to tolerate FIT or not. They only get away with what they do because we let them.

Anonymous said...

The killer of Ian Tomlinson has still not been arrested.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't need to be arrested the investigation is concluded and the cps are considering what charges are to be made.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 21 August 2009 09:36, you write:

"He [Ian Tomlinon] doesn't need to be arrested the investigation is concluded and the cps are considering what charges are to be made."

Normal procedure is for the police to arrest someone when there is a prima facie case against them for committing a crime. It was clear that Ian Tomlinson was the victim of criminal assault. Officers who witnessed this assault have a duty to the public interest to apply the law impartially. They neglected that duty in this case by ommitting to arrest the assailant for assault. When Tomlinson subsequently died they had a potential manslaughter case on their hands. When a member of the public appears to commit manslaughter he is arrested without hesitation.

In fact we can make a comparison with cases in the past where burglars have committed assault and their victims have subsequently died. They have been prosecuted successfully for manslaughter.

As for the question of charges, seven Pakistani students have been in jail as category A prison since March. They have never been charged. They were merely suspected, though they are no longer even suspected. Instead, the Home Office has mandated their deportation and they are appealling. Trials are held in secret. Evidence is not divulged even to the appellants' lawyers. Why can they not enjoy the same freedom as the killer of Ian Tomlinson?

So long as the rule of law is suspended like this any talk of a rapprochement arround climate camp is taking place in a context that makes a complete mockery of the principle of policing and of the legitimacy of the authority the police claim to exercise.

Anonymous said...

Ian Tomlinson was pushed and hit with a baton during a violent public order incident, as were many dozens of people at the G20. The officer hit once and withdrew, then pushed once and withdrew, if he had been standing there stamping on Ian Tomlinson in a blatant abuse of force then yes he should have been detained and arrested, but he wasn't because in the circumstances those actions were neither unexpected or precedented. The only real question remains as to whether he should have pushed Ian Tomlinson when his back was turned, but if we are only supposed to push people who are facing us then all everyone has to do is turn around, a common tactic already seen years before at Heathrow. Not really ideal when your trying to control a group to impose an imaginary force-field by telling people they can just turn their backs and we can't touch them.

As with the rest of us who were working that day it was very unlikely the officer would have even known that Ian Tomlinson had died until much later considering he walked away before collapsing - we were only told at 0200 as we went back to the station. It is ridiculous to suggest that every officer who used or uses any form of force should be immediately arrested by their colleagues considering that is what we are trained for and in many circumstances is exactly what we are there for.

The main purpose of arrest is to obtain evidence by means of questioning under caution - done - to establish the identity of the suspect - done - to preserve any evidence available - done.

As I said, as the investigation has been concluded and the CPS are considering charges it would be pointless and unnecessary to arrest the officer who pushed him, unless further evidence comes to light that would significantly add to the investigation. Unless you're on the investigating team you know only a small amount of the evidence that has been gathered.

Instead of displaying your blatant lack of knowledge of investigative and Police procedure, how about waiting for the CPS decision and the subsequent trial/inquest?

metbod.

Anonymous said...

I think there are a couple of points in metbod's post above which warrant comment.

The first is that given that the police killed Tomlinson one might hope they share the sense of shock and anger which is widely felt in the country (not just within protest groups) rather than treat it as some sort of administrative matter. It is a source of concern that no serving police officer has ever been convicted of manslaughter despite the number of people who have died in police custody and / or been killed by the police.

The second is that arrest is very frequently clearly being used not just to obtain information but to harrass and, in case of journalists, to prevent deadlines being met ie for news management purposes, where no charge is brought, no file presented to the CPS. Last year's climate camp is a case in point.

Until the Met appreciates and deals with the ills in their own ranks the public (and voters) need to be very wary indeed.

Until

Really Fit said...

Anon 20.40 makes an important point. The fact that the Met makes a charm offensive on climate camp, doesn't mean the situation will change for other political dissenters.

We have many oppressive laws, and there are many other laws that are misused by police in oppressive ways. Police powers are continually expanded and extended, and public accountability is virtually nil. The Muslim population and migrant communities undeniably suffer the most.

I am a long way from being convinced that we are going to see a change in any of that.

Anonymous said...

Hey metbod.
Remember the City of London Police were in charge of the initial investigation into the death of Ian Thomlinson, yet you can clearly see City cops in the video of Mr Thomlinson being pushed over (the ones in the red and white check hats).
No surpries then that they issued an initial statement claiming Mr Thomlinson died of natural causes and had had no contact with police.
That is how the story would have stood had not the video turned up by a spirited member of the public, ie the police would have got off Scot free again, with being involved in his death, and then lying about it afterwards.

Remember Jean Charles de Menezes 'carrying a rucksack, vaulting the ticket barrier etc' story initially put out by the Met.
It seems that police at a very high level will act to cover up death at the hands of the police, and then protect those responsible.

Many of these same highup cops will be in charge of policing the Climate Camp, which doesn't really fill me with confidence as to the behaviour of officers under their command.

Anonymous said...

Charm offensive, I doubt it; offensive almost certainly.
Personally i doubt very much that things will actually change for the better, as any group who wishes to protest are institutionally viewed as the great unwashed and therefore worthy of a good kicking don’t hold your breath for anything different this time around.
The overt violence may not be as wide spread, the use of stop and search may be less visible but you can guarantee the general harassment and deterrent tactics will be there lurking somewhere and being used.
I think we can fully expect the police to play the media on this one with absolutely every effort being made to discredit the protest at every available opportunity, in short they want the protestors to play into their hands so they can say we told you so as a way of justifying use of undesirable tactics in the future.
FIT's puppets the TSG knuckle draggers may well be tamed a little on this one, make the most of it because it wont last long.

Anonymous said...

it's interesting to see metbod's sudden concern for people not to rush to judgment until after any trial or inquest when that's been so notably ignored by the police in any number of cases, of which that of winston silcott leaps to mind. the last twenty-three years have seen so many similar cases, where the police have briefed against defendants, that metbod's pleas for patience seem somewhat hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

'Ian Tomlinson was pushed and hit with a baton during a violent public order incident'

The only violence was that meeted out by police officers, who seemed to be willfully attempting to provoke violence in members of the public.

'It is ridiculous to suggest that every officer who used or uses any form of force should be immediately arrested by their colleagues considering that is what we are trained for and in many circumstances is exactly what we are there for.'

Is that what was in your pre-demonstration briefing metbod? Exactly what you were there for, attacking, pushing and intimidating members of the public?
Or did your colleagues take it on themselves to throw their weight around.

If the former, then those top cops who briefed you to do this must be held to account (and for you to testify). if the latter, then there should be at least a series of disciplinary charges of those officers involved.

So please answer metbod, which was it, and where is the accountability?

Anonymous said...

More detail of the G20 policing >

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/aug/23/g20-protests-ian-tomlinson-police

Not very encouraging.

jonsparta said...

The first is that given that the police killed Tomlinson....

I thought that was for the investigation to find out, or do you have God like powers?

The only violence was that meeted out by police officers...

That comment is just funny...still beening puntched, spat at and kicked does count as violence if against a officer.


that arrest is very frequently clearly being used not just to obtain information but to harrass and, in case of journalists, to prevent deadlines being met ie for news management purposes....

Never done that myself or the officers i work with...

Anonymous said...

I thought that was for the investigation to find out, or do you have God like powers?


Priceless, there wouldnt have been an investigation had the police version of events been belived.
Oddly though people do nto beleive the word of the police and rightly so.

Now we have heard the police didnt have contacxt with Ian Tomlinson,. we have heard it may of been a member of the public dressed as a cop who struck him etc now lets hear what actuially happened and stop the drivel being churned out as a smoke screen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Metbod, you write:

"It is ridiculous to suggest that every officer who used or uses any form of force should be immediately arrested by their colleagues considering that is what we are trained for and in many circumstances is exactly what we are there for."

If the officer who struck Tomlinson was just obeying orders, then the officer who gave those orders is the killer of Ian Tomlinson. Nothing changes.

The killer of Ian Tomlinson has still not been arrested.

Anonymous said...

Great news they are apparently planning on carrying out a community policing type role for the climate camp.
Excellent news for climate camp becuase if its anything like the community style policing we get around here they shouldnt see a copper for weeks on end.

AM said...

"It is ridiculous to suggest that every officer who used or uses any form of force should be immediately arrested by their colleagues considering that is what we are trained for and in many circumstances is exactly what we are there for."

You are right that might be ridiculous. However that is not what is being suggested. You are lawfully permitted to use proportionate force to make someone comply with a lawful order. Ian Tomlinson posed no threat to the officers at the scene and the use of a baton was clearly disproportionate. By all stretches of the imagination it was clearly disproportionate to push Tomlinson to the ground as this had no possible relation to the enforcement of any lawful order.

It is conceivable that Tomlinson was walking at a slow pace and therefore it might be lawful to push him lightly in order to quicken his pace providing him being in that place was unlawful for some reason. For example, if he had been informed of the fact an Section 14 or 12 was in place and the terms of the aforementioned.

Given this action did not in any conceivable way fall within the attackers role as a police officer, it was the remit of the other officers at the scene to arrest the attacker for assault as they had just witnessed a crime taking place.

Anonymous said...

The Tomlinson incideent/s served to show the public the arrogance and uprofessionalism of a number of officers.
Hopefully it will be for a criminal trial to decide if the various instances of force used on him were lawful and proportionate.
Clearly the Police do not think and or are unable to accpet any responsibility for his death.
What is perhaps more disturbing are the number of surrounding issues.
Firstly it took so long for the officer in the final incident to be identified and coem forward, plenty of tiem for him to get his story straight and have a conflab with his likewise mates.
Secondly there were very clearly a number of the dreaded hi viz blue blouse wearing tactical advisors in the same group of officers, these so called experts failed to act after the incident and appear to have been less than forthcoming once the public unmasked the true events.
So anyone from the Met or indeed City Police who coems here bleating cannot expect anything other than total derision.
Now it appears the suspect in this investigation should not have been in the Met at all following revelations of his previous mis/ conduct.
A bit of foot shooting looks to have goen on here, with all those who rushed to defend the officer now appear to be defending soemone with at best a tainted past.
Tomlinson's death stirred up a proper crock of crap, that the Met cannot see their way to deal with and they have only got themselves to blame.
It really is academic as to the final outcoem of this, the damage has been doen and the reputation of the Met damaged for years to come, that serves no purpose and certainly wont make policing any easier.
Yes they may calm down for a while but it wont be long before they are up to their old tricks again and you can bet your last quid there will be someone about to record it all and show the more naive elements of society what we are actually contending with.
Lets be clear here there are an overwhelming majoirity of decent honest and professional coppers in London they have as well as the public at large been done a huge dis service by a minority who are neither profesional or fit to hold the office of constable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks MetBod,

I hope you are well.

You appear to adduce a general principle: that persons should not be arrested who can be investigated without being arrested. I argue that your general principle is not applied in fact to the public in general and that therefore it should not be appled to the killer of Ian Tomlinson either. He should be arrested like any other criminal suspect. In support of my argument I cite an example from today's news.

First, let's take a look at your case, then at the general principle upon which it appears to rest, and then at whether this principle is applied to the public in general.

Your case is as follows. You write:

"The main purpose of arrest is to obtain evidence by means of questioning under caution - done - to establish the identity of the suspect - done - to preserve any evidence available - done.

"As I said, as the investigation has been concluded and the CPS are considering charges it would be pointless and unnecessary to arrest the officer who pushed him, unless further evidence comes to light that would significantly add to the investigation. Unless you're on the investigating team you know only a small amount of the evidence that has been gathered.

"Instead of displaying your blatant lack of knowledge of investigative and Police procedure, how about waiting for the CPS decision and the subsequent trial/inquest?"

The general principle upon which your case appears to rest is that persons should not be arrested who can be investigated without being arrested. You then apply this principle to the killer of Ian Tomlinson alone. It is not clear whether you think it should, or does, also apply to all members of the public, though the implication is that you do, since you don't appear to contest that we are all entitled to equal treatment by the police. Indeed you appear to adduce this general principle to rescue the killer of Ian Tomlinson from the appearance of special treatment.

Now let's look at whether this principle is applied to the public in general. The idea that your general principle is already consistently applied is made preposterous by the list of counter-examples so long it is hard to know where to begin. Just take today's news. A man suspects himself of dangerous driving and turns himself over to the police at once (more than the killer of Ian Tomlinson ever did when he remained silent for at least a week). He is then arrested and released on bail [1]. It is hard to think that an investigation could not have been conducted without him, especially since he was already doing the honorable thing and co-operating with the police.

If you are still not convinced, just think what would happen if your general principle were universally applied. All members of the public who have been arrested in relevantly similar circumstances would have been wrongly arrested. They should be paid damages and the arresting officers should be prosecuted for wrongful arrest.

In passing, I observe that you agree that the killer of Ian Tomlinson was a police officer. It's worth remembering that the police initially flatly denied this and even redacted the post mortem report to conceal it, and may even now continue to deny it. (The Guardian's CiF once deleted the comment "The killer of Ian Tomlinson has not yet been arrested" claiming fear of litigation.)

In clonclusion, your general principle, whether sound or not, whether it would apply in Tomlinson's case or not, is not applied in fact to the public in general and therefore should not be appled to the killer of Ian Tomlinson either. He should be arrested like any other criminal suspect, just like the suspect dangerous driver in today's news, and just as would any other member of the public suspected of a violent crime.

Best Wishes,
Stephen

1. "Driver flees mob after boy, 3, dies", Manchester Evening News, 27/08/09: available online here [manchestereveningnews.co.uk].

Anonymous said...

The officer concerned in the Tomlinson incident/s has had much benifit and privilige nto afforded to the average citizen of this country.
Firstly wasnt it almost a week before he came forward, i hear it was that or be outed by the media who seemed to have been able to identify him a lot quicker than the Met woudl have believe they did.

In those days since the incident and before he came forward i wonder how much of that time was taken up with gettign his story straight and was any of that tiem or subsequently spent with those with him at the tiem getting a decent version of events together, clearly soemthing the average member of the public woudl not of had the opportunity to do in the normal course of matters.

The officer concerned has had the priviliage of soem above average legal advice and no doubt been kept abreast of the incresing bundle of evidence in this matter, not something joe bloggs public would have the benifit of.

Sorry but this bloke has played a key role in a well orchestrated and manaaged scheme by the Met.
I have heard on numerous occassions bleatings that he wont get a fair trial (if it goes that far) well tough, numerous bodies have tried unsucessfully to dirty the waters on this one and have been found out, that is what will make any trial unfair or biased, not the actions of those who have and continue to report on the incident/s.
The Met tried to play the public, others sought to bring evidence to light to discredit the Met's and others take on matters.
A massive shooting in the foot for policing and another huge credibility issue for those concerned.

This is relly simple, If Ian Tomlinson had pushed an officer and that officer had subsequently died would he have been arrested if he had been subsequently identified, i would wager that indeed he would of been arrested and more than likely not given bail for some considerable time if at all.
For anyone to suggest that this officer has been tretaed the same as any other person in such matters is at best farcical.
The whole lot stinks of cover up (or at least a vain attempt) and needs to be outed for the sha it is.