Netpol is seeking the help of emergent CopWatch groups to help us improve a new practical guide we are launching today, which is designed to support local people to set up police monitoring groups in their neighbourhoods.
You can find a growing list of new local CopWatch groups here.
The new “Local Police Monitoring Group: A Practical Guide” has been an ongoing project for Netpol since 2019 and is authored by our campaigns coordinator, Kevin Blowe. It draws on his experiences over 26 years as an organiser with the much-respected east London campaigners Newham Monitoring Project, from 1990 until the group was sadly forced to close in 2016.
The idea at the heart of the Guide is that police monitoring represents a practical means surviving violent, racist policing, in communities where this is a daily reality.
We are launching the Guide now because the creation of local CopWatch intervention groups, as part of a call to “withdraw consent” from oppressive policing in Britain, has been a key demand of the Kill the Bill coalition and groups including Sisters Uncut. Local police monitoring is one practical response to the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Explaining the thinking behind the Guide, Kevin said:
“This guide began life when a group of mothers contacted Netpol about the constant use by the police of stop and search powers on their children on their estate.
The idea at the heart of the Guide is that monitoring an institution that constantly monitors us represents a practical means of surviving violent, racist policing, in communities where this is a daily reality.
It also emphasises that police monitoring is aimed at fundamentally challenging policing policy and strategy, not simply gathering a bunch of statistics.
Over the course of three years, it became increasingly clear that it was impossible to write a completely definitive guide on local police monitoring, or describe how to replicate, step by step, the successes of groups that started in the 1980s in areas like Newham and Southall.
This Guide is one reflection on the challenges of organising against oppressive policing at a local level. It represents the viewpoint of both a white campaigner working in support of a Black-led community organisation and that of many of Newham Monitoring Project’s frontline organisers, my comrades and friends over three decades, whom I consulted when writing this.
The intention is not to set down any rules. It is simply to pass on some of our accumulated knowledge and experience in the hope that this is helpful in avoiding the many mistakes that we made over the years.”
Give us your feedback
Netpol is asking the campaigners we work with to start using the Guide if they organising CopWatch / police monitoring groups in their areas. We need you to tell us how useful you find it and what additions and changes you might recommend.
We will be launching a finalised version of the Guide in the summer of 2022.
Please share your feedback with us by 30 June 2022 at firstname.lastname@example.org