The civil liberties organisation Liberty will provide their brand of legal observers on October 20 for the latest TUC organised march against the cuts. They will not only monitor the police, but also protesters – much like a special (volunteer) constable would. However, as experienced legal observers we can see three main problems with Liberty’s plans for this Saturday: their volunteers are not independent, they are monitoring protesters and they do not know what they are doing. Continue reading
Netpol will meet members of the Welsh Assembly tomorrow (Wednesday) to present the findings of a report documenting the failure of South Wales Police to adhere to human rights legislation in their policing of an Occupy protest in Cardiff last November.
The event has been jointly organised by Netpol and Defend the Right to Protest, and is endorsed by senior public figures and trade union leaders, including Mark Serwotka of the trade union PCS, Bob Crow of the RMT and The Most Reverend Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales. It is sponsored by Labour AM Mick Antoniw. Continue reading
The Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), a partner organisation in Netpol, have published some initial findings from their monitoring of policing during the Olympics.
NMP trained and supported 89 Community Legal Observers (CLOs), who were deployed in shifts during the Games and contributed a total of 222 hours on the streets of Newham, where they handed out 6450 rights cards to local people. In a presentation of a forthcoming report on the policing of the Olympics in the borough, NMP’s director Estelle du Boulay highlighted some of the early findings from the huge amount of data that was gathered by CLOs during their shifts. Continue reading
The police have decided not to press charges or take further action against the ‘vast majority’ of the 182 cyclists that were kettled and arrested whilst taking part in the July Critical Mass bike ride. The police do intend to interview a remaining sixteen people, and it is not yet known whether any of these will yet face charges.
Participants in the Critical Mass that night have described their experiences variously as traumatic, humiliating, frightening, uncomfortable and degrading. Held in a kettle (containment) and then on buses for hours, people have told us of having to urinate in public, and of being kept in handcuffs for long periods of time. Continue reading
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have accused the police of unnecesary aggression at their protest yesterday at the Department of Work and Pensions. One protester was left with a fractured shoulder, another tipped from their wheelchair as police pushed through the crowd to try and stop protesters occupying the DWP building. One person was arrested for breach of the peace and obstructing police, and was later released on police bail.
The wheelchair users and other DPAC protesters had blockaded the entrance to the DWP while inside 12 activists from DPAC and UKUNCUT occupied the foyer area, and ‘locked on’ to make it difficult for them to be removed. Continue reading
The Surveillance Commissioner has attacked police for circumventing the law on covert surveillance by building personal profiles of targets from ‘open’ internet sources. In a report published last month, the Surveillance Commission said that the increasingly used practice of processing internet data to build a profile of individuals or groups meets the definition of covert surveillance and should not be taking place without formal authorisations.
The report findings could have implications for a number of policing bodies, including the National Domestic Extremism Unit which trawls internet material from blogs and social networking sites to build profiles of activists and protest groups. Continue reading
An open letter to Theresa May, Nick Herbert and Bernard Hogan-Howe has been published by a collective of organisations opposing police stop and search policy, including Netpol. The letter calls for, amongst other things, the suspension of s60 stop and search powers, which allow the police to stop and search whoever they wish, without any need for ‘reasonable suspicion’.
There is strong evidence that s60 is disproportionately used against the black and Asian population. In a recent study of protest policing published in July this year, Netpol found that
“s60 is also inappropriately used at political protests to target particular social groups, such as young people, or to harass individuals who are known political activists or associated with particular political groups.”
Lawyers representing some of the 182 cyclists arrested onthe London Critical Mass have stated that they are considering a legal challenge to the punitive bail conditions that have been imposed by the Metropolitan Police. The Green and Black Cross have appealed for anyone wanting to make such a challenge to contact their solicitor or GBC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The police have imposed five separate bail conditions on the arrested cyclists. The most draconian of these are the requirement not to cycle anywhere in the borough of Newham, and not to go within 100m of any Olympic venue. These conditions place huge limitations on freedom of movement, particularly for those whose workplaces, friends or families are within the restricted area.
The largely unfettered power of the police to impose conditionson bail certainly needs some form of challenge. The police have a solid track history of imposing highly restrictive bail conditions on people who have yet to be, or may never be, charged with a criminal offence. They are well aware that they can impose police bail conditions that are far more punitive than the courts would impose if the person was charged. Continue reading
On Friday 27th July, 182 cyclists were arrested by the Metropolitan police for straying too close to the Olympic venue. Netpol have been given a number of eye-witness accounts from participants in the Critical Mass which tell a highly disturbing story.
Those arrested were forced to tolerate poor conditions of detention, with some spending the entire night detained on a bus at Charing Cross, waiting to be booked into custody, without adequate access to water or toilet facilities. Some people were forced to spend an excessive amount of time in handcuffs, and access to legal representation and advice was patchy. All have also been subject to highly restrictive bail conditions, which in some cases have left people unable to work without breaching the conditions of their bail. Some have had to face a significant struggle to reclaim their own cycles.
But even more disturbing perhaps, was the disturbing ease by which the Metropolitan Police have felt able to carry out a strategy of mass arrest against a group of people whose primary offence appears to have been the act of cycling into East London. Continue reading
A group of Newham Monitoring Project Community Legal Observer volunteers have been “banned” from entering Stratford Park, a site open to the general public who wish to watch the free Olympic livescreens, by security on the ground who apparently accused them of “making it easy for criminals and giving them tips” when giving out Stop and Search rights-information cards to members of the public. Continue reading