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Policewatch Films

Monday, 8 December 2008

A privatised police force, just for us…?

It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems probable that the officers pictured above at Smash EDO in Brighton were collecting ‘intelligence’ on behalf of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). The NPOIU work alongside that other lovely bunch, NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit) who came to public attention recently by escalating Earth First! and climate campers to the status of terrorists in an article written for the Observer newspaper. The article was later withdrawn by the Observer when it was slammed by their readership as unsubstantiated police propaganda.

However, both the article, and the retraction failed to mention that NETCU is not part of any police force at all. It is part of a private company. The same applies to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) whom we believe may have been operating at Brighton.
Both of these units are operated by an organisation which clearly states on its website that it is a private company. It is registered as such at Companies House, and provides annual returns. This company is ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.

NETCU and the NPIOU (and believe it or not there is a third unit, the NDET – National Domestic Extremism Team) employ serving police officers seconded from police forces across the country. They appear to have access to police resources and intelligence. They gather and analyse intelligence which is then used to ‘advise’ police operations, investigations and public order strategy. They are, in effect, a privatised police force.

Unlike existing police forces, they do not have to answer publicly to a police authority - a body which is usually made up of local politicians and members of the public. Unlike police forces, they are not required to provide any information under the Freedom of Information Act. They appear able to operate without justifying their actions to anyone, save the Home Secretary.
This lack of openness and transparency is remarkable in an era where even MI5 must comply with the Freedom of Information Act. This total lack of accountability makes it even more disturbing that they are able to plant misleading and potentially damaging articles in a newspaper like the Observer.

Given they operate under this shroud of secrecy, little is known about these three interlinked units. We know they have in the past focused their attentions on animal rights campaigns, but have now developed a wider circle of interest. They have a stated aim to ‘reduce or remove the threat from domestic extremism’ with an apparent emphasis on protecting the interests of private business. Given the presence of the above officers at EDO, it seems the campaign against the Brighton arms company has also come under the heading of ‘domestic extremism’.
We also know these units have friends in high places. They have direct representation on the Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, a high level committee including counter terrorism units, the security services and high level government officials. One of the key roles of this committee is to work out what new laws might be needed in the struggle against terrorism and domestic extremism, and how best to use (or misuse) the huge amount of legislation they already have.

This is an unaccountable, outsourced police force, which has a clear self interest in promoting fear of ‘domestic extremism’ and in promoting the need for ‘intelligence’ on political campaigns. Alongside this, there is an obvious remit for promoting the needs of big business over such campaigns. The Forward Intelligence Teams know the value of having ‘intelligence’ on your opponents. It is therefore only right that we should make it our business to know what NETCU and NPIOU are up to, so that we can make sure we can devise strategies to, in their words, deal with them “effectively and robustly”.

We cannot afford to ignore the power of these organisations. However, we can arm ourselves with a knowledge and an awareness of the lengths these organisations are prepared to go to quash political protest and dissent.
Information is power, which is why so many police officers dislike this blog. It is why we, despite whatever legislation they devise, will continue to publish all the information we have on these police officers and the units that support and control them.


Anonymous said...

I think it is fascinating what fitwatch are doing; I didnt know that there were such private cops. I would urge protesters to look to their own behaviour too. What is happening from instance when a protest starts to be viewed as extremist - well Im interested to know specifically if Smash Edo has started to at times be overhostile, be disorganised amongst themselves to use violence or have gotten to the stage of being overtly violent. Its difficult to stop the wagon when its pointed down the steep protest hill - however just the cause seems.

Much protest can be annoying to someone, for example members of the other public, other dissenters and others who you protest about.

All that is tolerable - though when people start to harrass then they only assist those resisting to feel good about what they do.

Violence at a protest by police or protesters is not tolerable, abuse by protesters ought not to be tolerable. How come protesters are not prepared when it does happen to look to their own behavour and set that right.

Anonymous said...

Ok its not your remit - fair comment.

What about interviewing the police anyone thought about that? Give them very sticky toffees to eat I say.

Anonymous said...

NPIOU has been around for years and used to be called ARNI, the AR being Animal rights.. AFAIK it's a Special Branch unit.

I wonder though, when AR activists dug up Gladys Hammond, did they really think that there would be no consequences?

Anonymous said...

Smash EDO is not a violent campaign, but has been targetted from the beginning by some highly unconstitutional and unnaccountable policing, particularly in relation to civil actions / injunctions. There has also been a great deal of intrusive overt surveillance, arbitrary arrests and
some violence from the police - even using dogs to attack a journalist who was attempting to document the protest.

The involvement of NETCU / NPOIU and other repressive police measures seem to have a lot more to do with the effectiveness of a campaign than its propensity to violence.

Some of the posts above look a little like an attempt at a smear campaign, either directed at EDO or Fitwatch, not quite sure which. Maybe both!

Anonymous said...

What I find particularly interesting is that a private police force is protecting private business using public money. Yet again ordinary people are being screwed twice: once, by having our basic rights trashed and twice, by having to pay for the privilege of having our rights trashed! Pc Plod, the first contributor, needs to understand that we will no longer stand by and let ourselves be screwed. We will resist.

Anonymous said...

2058 and Paul Mather 4551 were teaching Edinburgh FIT how to stand around outside meetings getting cold during the anti-militarist gathering a couple of weekends ago.

They seem to have got the idea and four were out today standing around getting cold watching some Greeks.

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