Today is our fifth birthday: it is exactly five years since activists from organisations who first started to work together after the London G20 protests met to set up the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol).

Our aim from the beginning was to bring together groups concerned both with the impact of policing on protests and on local communities and to learn from each other: although there remains an imbalance of resources and skills between ‘activists’ and ‘communities’ to resist aggressive policing, the identity of the two groups has always been overlapping and fluid and both are subject to similar policing strategies and tactics.

One of the earliest and most important decisions we made was that Netpol’s founding members, each from very different campaigning backgrounds, should spend time building trust and learning to work together: something activist networks rarely take the time to develop. It was therefore over a year before we organised our first event, a conference in April 2011. Since then, however, Netpol has managed to secure funding for new projects (the latest to monitor the policing of anti-fracking protests) and published research. Five years on, we now offer a distinctive, critical analysis on the way that heavy-handed and violent policing undermines rights to freedom of assembly and expression and plays an often oppressive role in local working-class and black communities.

These are some of the milestones of Netpol’s first five years. If you would like to know more about our work, find out how to contact us here.

Key Milestones

November 2009

First meeting of representatives from seven founding organisations – Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Climate Camp Legal Team, FITWatch, Green & Black Cross, Legal Defence & Monitoring Group and Newham Monitoring Project – sets up Netpol

April 2011

Standing Up to Surveillance

First Netpol conference, ‘Standing Up to Surveillance’ at the Rich Mix in London

September 2011

Netpol receives its first funding from Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust

October 2011

Launch of ‘Kettling the Powers of the Police’ campaign

May 2012

Kettling Police Powers conference

Second Netpol conference, ‘Kettling Police Powers‘, at Bishopsgate Institute in London (above)

June 2012

leicester_mercury EDL protest report

Publication of Netpol’s critical report into the policing of anti-EDL protests

The Netpol Lawyers Group, a forum for solicitors and barristers to meet, support Netpol’s work and exchange their knowledge and experience of public order law, is set up

July 2012

netpol report

Launch of our report into policing of protest in 2010 and 2011

Netpol makes a submission to Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the operation of the Independent Police Complaints Commission

September 2012


Netpol receives funding to produce to produce campaign resources that raise awareness and provide guidance on challenging unfair practice in protest policing

October 2012

Launch of Netpol solicitors list

Launch of “Don’t be on a database” campaign

occupy cardiff

Publication of report documenting the failure of South Wales Police to adhere to human rights legislation in their policing of an Occupy protest in Cardiff in November 2011

January 2013

Netpol presents evidence to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Maina Kiai

We publish our guide on ‘Your Rights and Mobile Fingerprinting

March 2013

We publish our first analysis of intelligence-gathering role of Police Liaison Officers

May 2013

Netpol publishes advice for activists entering the UK to attend the G8 protest

We also publish our guide to ‘Your Rights and Section 50 of the Police Reform Act

June 2013

Netpol Lawyers Group makes a submission to Ministry of Justice on Legal Aid cuts.

July 2013

Netpol publish a statement on behalf of former friends of an activist known as Jason Bishop, who they had discovered was an undercover police officer.

August 2013

Netpol reports on the violent arrests and repressive tactics used against anti-fracking campaigners at Balcombe in Sussex.

September 2013

Netpol’s publishes its analysis of the police tactic of using mass arrests, after 286 anti-fascist activists are arrested in Whitechapel in London.

October 2013

A Freedom of Information request by Netpol reveals the Standard Operating procedures of Metropolitan Police Liaison Officers and their role in intelligence gathering.

November 2013

Netpol puts out a call for activists to make subject access requests, to try to find out if their details are on the National Domestic Extremist Database

December 2013

Netpol publishes a personal account of the Cops Off Campus protest at the University of London.

Netpol member Newham Monitoring Project publishes its report on the lessons learnt from using Community Legal Observers during the Olympics.

Netpol receives funding from Lush for staff costs and to judicially review the Home Secretary and Metropolitan Police Commissioner over the legality of the National Domestic Extremism Database

February 2014

Domestic Extremist Awareness Day

Launch of first online “Domestic Extremist Awareness Day” – we plan to mark this every 5th February

Netpol receives funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to pilot ‘community legal observer’ projects in three cities

March 2014

Launch of ‘Don’t Feed The Feds’ – a video guide to police surveillance of protesters.

Netpol makes a submission to the Home Office on covert human surveillance

April 2014

Netpol makes a call-out for activists who accepted a caution at the ‘Reclaim the Power’ camp in 2013 for breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act, urging them to contact a law firm seeking to challenge Sussex Police, after the section 14 notice was ruled invalid.. As a result, seven people have their cautions overturned

Netpol joins training for legal observers conducted by Green and Black Cross, at an anti-fracking protest camp in Nottinghamshire

May 2014

Netpol calls on the Information Commissioner to begin a formal investigation into the Metropolitan Police over access to secret police files on protesters

We also publish a two-part report into policing of anti-fracking protesters at Balcombe

June 2014

Publication of our guidance on your rights if police raid your home – one of the most popular guides on our website

Netpol reveals ‘pivotal role’ played by Police Liaison Officers in gathering intelligence at Balcombe protests.

Netpol launches a Flickr Group Pool where activists can post photos of police intelligence gatherers.

July 2014

Netpol makes a submission to the College of Policing that calls for the abolition of police bail conditions for protest arrests

‘Community Monitors’ trained and organised by Netpol scrutinise policing of Simmer Down Reggae Festival in Birmingham

Funding secured to monitor the policing of anti-fracking protests up to September 2016

August 2014

Community Monitors observe and record the actions of the police at Notting Hill Carnival

Netpol reveals ‘memoranda of understanding’ between police and extreme energy drilling companies.

We also publish a letter by Manchester trade unionists calling for an inquiry into Greater Manchester Police’s Tactical Aid Unit

September 2014

Publication of Netpol’s two part guide to protest on private land.

We also report back on the experiences of our Community Monitors at Notting Hill Carnival.

October 2014

Netpol Lawyers Group makes a submission to the Home Office on changes to PACE Code A.

Netpol publishes the first critical analysis of a report on the policing at Barton Moss anti-fracking camp written by an ‘Independent Advisory Panel on the Policing of Protest’ that was set up by Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

Netpol conducts a nationwide survey on activists’ experiences of the policing of anti-fracking protests.

November 2014

Netpol publishes the testimony of a journalist who was visited at home by counter-terrorism police, simply for filming anti-fracking protests in Lancashire.