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Thursday, 26 November 2009

HMIC report - FITwatch press release

FITwatch welcomes Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary's criticisms of public order policing but warns much more must be done.

FITwatch is pleased HM Chief Inspector Denis O’Connor has taken on board many of our concerns in his damning report ‘Adapting to Protest: Strengthening the British model of policing’. The moves by HMIC to ensure that policing is lawful, consistent and accountable are to be welcomed. However, the recommendations may be insufficient to change a culture of policing that has become overly reliant on surveillance and intelligence.

FITwatch activist Val Swain said: ‘HMIC’s report is a strong criticism of current policing and rightly so. However HMIC’s recommendations simply to clarify the legal framework for the use of overt photography by FITs and other police units will not be enough to bring about the culture change that is needed. If Mr O’Connor wants a return to ‘traditional’ British policing, there has to be a move away from the current intelligence-led approach."

FITwatch also welcomes HMIC’s recommendation to review the status of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure transparency and accountability. Presently ACPO is wholly unaccountable, setting the legislative agenda and implementing intelligence-lead policing through three ‘domestic extremism’ units (1) run by Anton Setchell.

The domestic extremism units hold personal data on thousands of people involved in political protest. There are also fears that this 'intelligence' is disseminated to private companies through the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) which works closely to support businesses that are the focus of protesters concerns. These secretive, shadowy units operate outside of the structure of the British police and are a law unto themselves. FITwatch hope during the course of the review ACPO come clean about the extent of these units operations and the data that they hold.

Val Swain said: ‘While we welcome this first step, we need to go much further than HMIC’s recommendations. What we need is an actual change in the culture of public order policing. The way that the police behave in relation to protest, public order situations, and indeed the public generally, must differ from what has gone before. The relentless photographing and filming of protesters, the tracking of their cars, the abuse of police powers to gather their personal details must stop. FITwatch will carry on campaigning until it does.’

Notes
(1) The domestic terrorism units under ACPO control are: NETCU (national extremism tactical co-ordination unit); NPOIU (national public order intelligence unit) and NDET (national domestic extremism team)

Fitwatch:
Over two years we have highlighted excessive surveillance tactics, including overt photography, used by the Forward Intelligence Teams (FITs) to prevent legitimate political protest.

FITwatch has also obtained evidence of an image database of protesters, operated by the Public Order Intelligence Unit (CO11) based at New Scotland Yard. They had initially denied that they ran their own protester database, but taking the stand at a recent trial of FITwatch activists, Superintendent Hartshorn, a senior officer at CO11, admitted that CO11 held a database containing the name and photographic image of people they had noted attending political protests.

11 comments:

Sir Hugh Orde said...

Lets kick of then with the actual words used:-

HMIC recommends that the position and status of ACPO should be clearly defined with transparent governance and accountability structures, especially in relation to its quasi-operational role of the commissioning of intelligence and the collation and retention of data.

There appear to be four choices to regulating the position and status of ACPO:
(i)
Continuation of ACPO’s current status as a private limited company with some internal structural change to ensure a level of transparent governance.
(ii)
Transfer of ACPO’s quasi-operational units to a police force equipped to manage these functions on a national basis.

(iii)Adoption of a framework mirroring other professions (such as the medical profession) where a statutory body is charged with ensuring the proper standards of professional practice through the dissemination of professionalguidance, regulation of training and enforcement of discipline (eg the General Medical Council) while a separate representative association represents the professional and personal interests of its senior members across the profession (eg the British Medical Association).

(iv)Constitutional change by establishing ACPO as a statutory public body, centrally funded by and accountable to Government and tasked with providing a coordinating role and operational support function for the police service at the national level. ACPO would retain responsibility for its current quasi-operational units but as a public body, would be required to comply with (among others) the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

So in all options the 'National Units' remain.

Doh!

Anonymous said...

Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

Really Fit said...

"In all cases the 'national units' remain."

It seems so. ACPO and it's snoopers are likely to simply become a national police unit. Seems like Hugh Orde will keep his job after all.

"demonstrate an absolute impartial service to the law"
Umm - I think that is what the HMIC report found that police WEREN'T doing. It cites 'inappropriate use of public order powers' and 'inadequate training in the law'. Also general inconsistency, unaccountability and lack of command capability.

John Steed said...

Plod, the only good one is a dead one, FT PSNI.

Anonymous said...

I think we will e visiting one of those good old saying in the near future on this one, the devil will be in the detail.

The rumblings of discontent that the report highlights i personaly think are nothing more than a mild attempt at appeasement, and i for one am not that impressed with the effort.

Little gems like police face loosing public concent, matters of concern blatantly show a state of policing in denial of its failings.
Sorry but when you have a happy go lucky lets go and crack a full skulls mentality soothing words and catchy phrases are not good enough.

Review, advise, consider all you want but what is actually needed is change and i have seen absolutely nothing that spells out to me change.
We will be left with the same issues, crimes and oppressive policing albeit dressed as something different.
There was a golden opportunity for change what we have in reality is a new window dresser changing the clothes on a dummy.

Anonymous said...

G20 arsonist jailed for 2 years.

Bussiness as usual.

Anonymous said...

This site is sexist. It is only showing male coppers. There just aren't enough tits on the blog.

The Stipe said...

STILL waiting for an account of the fitwatch convictions and their implications for the future of fitwatching - the delay suggests there is something to hide.

Lets have your comment.

Anonymous said...

I fucking hate the pigs, me. Or as Ali G called them, the FUZZY MUFF.

COP15 said...

Aren’t those Danish coppers marvellous!

Enforced 'rowboat' drill at -10.

Makes you nostalgic for a good old kettle.

Anonymous said...

this just shows the cops have been overstepping the mark on 'public order' policing for years - and it's been covered up for 30 years!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/14/blair-peach-case-review?CMP=AFCYAH