Campaigners will be holding a mass demonstration outside the Home Office, calling for an end to the secretive ‘Security and Policing’ arms fair that is happening 8 – 10 March in Farnborough. The demonstration has been called and supported by Stop the Arms Fair, Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Kevin Blowe of Netpol, speaking for the coalition of groups who have organised the protest, commented:
“Security & Policing is a celebration of heavy policing of borders, militarisation of police, increased surveillance of civilians and high military spending. These do not improve our security or make any of us safer. They make the world a more dangerous place and we need to resist all of it.” Read more
This article first appeared on the Red Pepper website
Police chiefs are fond of talking about the way UK law enforcement is guided by a bedrock principle of “policing by consent”: the idea that police officers are legitimised by a consensus of support in the communities where they exercise their powers.
Whether this has ever been true is another matter. Over the last four decades, there have been many in working class mining villages, in black and Asian communities, amongst numerous protest movements and in the north of Ireland who would profoundly disagree. Nevertheless, it is a comforting and prevailing fiction – even if it is hard to reconcile with the fact the police in this country are apparently in a permanent state of war. Read more
Were you stopped and searched at the Stop the Racist March for England (Stop MFE) protest in Brighton on Sunday 27 April? Were you arrested or threatened with arrest for refusing to give your name and address?
Students have spoken out at their anger and frustration at being kettled, filmed and questioned at the end of a demonstration at Birmingham University last night.
There had been a national meeting, followed by a march and an occupation of Birmingham University’s Great Hall. As the students left the occupation, they were met by lines of police. They were then held in a kettle, in cold and wet conditions, for up to four hours.
One student told us she had struggled to cope with the cold and wet and the lack of toilet facilities,
“It felt like forever, I needed the toilet and it was so horrible and uncomfortable and cold. When I finally got out my friends had to hold me up I was so cold and drained. I felt really helpless and wanted to cry.
My friend was in tears – this was the first demo she’d been on. She doesn’t want to go on another one ever again. The police terrify her now.
They kept us like that to keep our morale down, to absolutely smash our morale. I just feel really bitter and angry”
This is a guest post by Harry Stopes (@HarryStopes)
The use of restrictive bail conditions on protestors, many of whom have been arrested en masse, is a worrying trend evident in policing over the last two and a half years. The most recent example to be reported was that of Michael Chessum, the President of the University of London students’ union. He was arrested under section 11 of the Public Order Act, for failing to notify the police of a demonstration, and was bailed on condition that he refrain from engaging in any protest, at any university, or within half a mile of any university.
These bail conditions are supposedly designed to prevent re-offending, but in fact do nothing of the sort: the risk of a person committing a section 11 offence is unrelated to their ability to protest in general. ‘Universities’ are specified precisely because it is Chessum’s role to campaign on behalf of students at universities across London
In the last week several Traveller communities as well as Traveller rights campaigners have been subjected to police raids. The police claim the “Operation Elven” series of raids, including one at Smithy Fen Traveller site in Cambridge, supposedly concern thefts of Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn from museums and auction houses across England and Ireland. However, police have been accused of serial heavy-handedness and faulty intelligence. Read more
The arrest of 286 antifascists demonstrating against the presence of the English Defence League in East London on Saturday is another example of what seems to be a growing trend in public order policing – the mass arrest of people participating in unauthorised marches, rallies and processions.
The tactic of mass arrest is highly indiscriminate – no consideration is made of whether the individuals concerned are truly suspected of any offence. Netpol observers spoke to a boxing coach in East London yesterday, who had tried desperately to get police officers to realise that one of the people they had contained had simply been en route to his gym, which was round the corner from the police kettle. No-one seemed willing to listen to him. Read more
Police actions at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests on Monday will have done little to reassure protesters that Sussex police has any interest in genuinely facilitating protest, or in ensuring the safety of protesters. 29 arrests were made, including that of MP Caroline Lucas, as police cleared protesters from the gates of the Cuadrilla site. Read more
New laws being considered by parliament would allow police to disperse people taking part in a lawful assembly and arrest those that did not comply. There is no need for the demonstration to have been disorderly or violent – the only requirement would be that the dispersal was ‘necessary to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour’. Read more
By Susannah Mengesha
This month I was thrilled to receive successful decision on my judicial review case against the Police Commissioner regarding the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate intelligence gathering purposes.
The court held that the police must not demand protesters to give their name, address and date of birth, and demand that they be filmed, as the price for leaving a kettle. Read more