Archive for the ‘climate camp’ Tag
Kent Police have published a report into the policing of the climate camp last year near Kingsnorth power station.
The full report can be found here, with more bizarre acronyms than one could shake a stick at (should you want to; young people get up to the strangest things nowadays.) The report essentially can be summed up as “EON kept running and we didn’t wallop too many people. Go us!”
The report does, however, concede that the use of stop and search powers during the camp was “both disproportionate and counter-productive.”
It has also made me feel some form of empathy with the police, labouring as they do under a burden of jargon that would make the typical Daily Mail reader spontaneously implode. Such as the following:
From the outset this operation was resourced bottom up from an established resource baseline defined by a judgement made in the planning unit not based upon CMM identified threat and risk defining the tactical challenges for mitigation (top down.)
No wonder they’re angry all the time.
A watchdog has said the Metropolitan Police’s planning for the London G20 protests in April was inadequate.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force had responded well to some of the challenges posed by the world summit.
But it said the force had not planned for the peaceful but highly disruptive Climate Camp in the City of London.
One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.
In his wide-ranging report, the inspector of constabulary Denis O’Connor said police tactics had been far too focused on tackling violence, such as the sporadic clashes outside the Bank of England, rather than facilitating peaceful protests during other parts of the day.
“Have you seen the Blues Brothers over there?” the police surveillance officer said. “Look – filming everybody else.”
It was supposed to have been a routine day of protest for Val Swain and Emily Apple, but at 1.31pm on 8 August last year, moments after being spotted by the surveillance unit, they found this was to be no ordinary demonstration.
After challenging a police officer over his failure to display a badge number at a protest against the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, the two women were wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a police van. They were held in custody for four days, three of which were spent in HMP Bronzefield.
Swain, 43, was arrested for assault and obstruction and Apple,33, for obstruction. The charges were later dropped.
The arrests were caught on police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian and will be submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission tomorrow in a complaint lodged by the solicitors firm Tuckers.
Swain, from Cardiff, and Apple, from Cornwall, believe they were unlawfully arrested and detained because they campaign for Fit Watch, a protest group opposed to police forward intelligence teams (Fits), the surveillance units that regularly monitor political activists and demonstrations and meetings.
Undercover police are running a network of hundreds of informants inside protest organisations who secretly feed them intelligence in return for cash-in-hand payments, according to evidence handed to the Guardian.
In the material, the police claim to have infiltrated a number of environmental groups and say they are receiving information about leaders, tactics and detailed plans of future demonstrations.
The dramatic disclosures are revealed in almost three hours of secretly recorded discussions between covert officers, claiming to be from Strathclyde police, and Matilda Gifford, an activist from the protest group Plane Stupid. The officers attempted to recruit Gifford as a paid spy after she was released on bail after a protest at Aberdeen airport last month.
Gifford, 24, said she recorded the meetings in a bid to expose how police seek to disrupt the legitimate activities of climate change activists. She had two meetings with the officers, who said they were a detective constable and his assistant.
Audio and transcripts can be found here.
Police have been accused of using sleep-deprivation to intimidate climate change protesters in Kent.
Activists at last year’s Climate Camp gathering at Kingsnorth were woken up by The Clash’s I Fought The Law and the Hi-de-Hi! theme, a report claimed.
The Liberal Democrats, who presented the study to Parliament, renewed their calls for an inquiry into the policing.
Kent Police said the team responsible for playing loud music inappropriately was from another police force.
About 1,000 demonstrators attended the camp in August to protest against plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.
The Lib Dems said policing was disproportionate and outrageous.
“The camp started with searches carried out on a massive scale – in my view all unlawful,” said Francis Wright, a co-author of the report and lawyer for Camp for Climate Action.
Brighton MP David Lepper has condemned police surveillance of the Cowley Club, a libertarian social centre used for a variety of political events:
An MP has accused Sussex Police of deliberately intimidating patrons of a social club.
In a surprise intervention David Lepper, Labour MP for Brighton Pavilion, said the police’s decision to photograph people entering and exiting the Cowley Club in London Road for a meeting about the environment last week appeared designed to scare activists rather than prevent crime.
Mr Lepper has written to Chief Supt Graham Bartlett, the force’s divisional commander for Brighton and Hove, demanding why officers were posted opposite the venue on Friday.
Members of the Cowley Club, which was hosting a meeting of environmental protest group Earth First, were confronted with four uniformed officers outside the Somerfield store, opposite the venue, snapping visitors using a paparazzi-style lens.
For more information on the use of Forward Intelligence Teams please consult the following:
A secret police intelligence unit has been set up to spy on Left-wing and Right-wing political groups.
The Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) has the power to operate across the UK and will mount surveillance and run informers on ‘domestic extremists’.
Its job is to build up a detailed picture of radical campaigners.
Targets will include environmental groups involved in direct action such as Plane Stupid, whose supporters invaded the runway at Stansted Airport in December.
The unit also aims to identify the ring-leaders behind violent demonstrations such as the recent anti-Israel protests in London, and to infiltrate neo-Nazi groups, animal liberation groups and organisations behind unlawful industrial action such as secondary picketing.
The CIU’s role will be similar to the ‘counter subversion’ functions formerly carried out by MI5.
The so-called reds under the bed operations focused on trade unionists and peace campaigners but were abandoned by MI5 to concentrate on Islamic terrorism.
The attorney general is considering asking the courts to clamp down on high-profile, direct-action protests on issues such as climate change, the Guardian can exclusively reveal.
Six Greenpeace protesters, who were acquitted in September of criminal damage for their demonstration at the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent, now face having their case referred to the court of appeal in what is believed to be an attempt to increase convictions for direct-action protests.
The six were acquitted after they successfully persuaded a jury that the demonstration, in which they scaled a 200 metre chimney in an attempt to paint Gordon Bin It , was intended to prevent greater damage to property from the imminent threat of global warming.
Although the verdict received international acclaim, described in the New York Times this week as one of 2008’s “ideas of the year” and endorsed by former US vice-president Al Gore, prosecutors are believed to have been angered at the acquittal. According to a letter seen by the Guardian, the attorney general is considering using her power to refer cases to the court of appeal to “clarify a point of law”. It is believed to be an attempt to limit the circumstances in which protesters could rely on “lawful excuse”.
If successful, the referral could prevent juries finding in favour of such “lawful excuse” arguments. Prosecutions of protesters against GM crops, incinerators, new roads and nuclear, chemical and arms trade companies have all collapsed after defendants argued that they had acted according to their consciences and that they were trying to protect property or prevent a greater crime.
Should the “lawful excuse” defence prove to be unusable by protesters, Britain can expect many more environmental and peace activists to be convicted – something which could backfire against a government accused of drastically curtailing the right to protest in the last five years.
A police officer takes a look at recent news related to the Kingsnorth climate camp:
One of the most bewildering pieces of police nonsense from 2008 was my participation in Operation Overkill at Kingsnorth in Kent. Ruralshire Constabulary, along with twenty three other forces, were persuaded to send officers for mutual aid to police about ten rain soaked, bedraggled vegans in a muddy field. Literally thousands of us descended onto the peninsular and acted like some kind of Eastern Bloc Policing Re-enactment society for a couple of weeks in August.
We were amused by the usual policing nonsense like being issued suncream even though we were on night duty, being given maps of Essex when we were in Kent and getting shouted at for sneeking around the portable stables to feed the police horses with contraband apples.
At the time, I wrote about how good the facilities and organisation were, now we know why. It cost a staggering £6 million for two weeks. My own PSU probably accounted for a good £1/2 million of that in hot food and drinks, five star university accomodation (how ironic since most of the protesters were students) and fuel for our ageing and high-consumption vans as we drove endlessly around the area looking for a Communist insurrection.
When climate camp protesters descended on the site of the Kingsnorth power station for a week-long summer demonstration, the scale of the police operation to cope with them was enormous.
Police were accused of using aggressive tactics, confiscating everything from toilet rolls and board games to generators and hammers. But ministers justified what they called the “proportionate” £5.9m cost of the operation, pointing out that 70 officers had been injured in the course of their duties.
But data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act puts a rather different slant on the nature of those injuries, disclosing that not one was sustained in clashes with demonstrators.
Papers acquired by the Liberal Democrats via Freedom of Information requests show that the 1,500 officers policing the Kingsnorth climate camp near the Medway estuary in Kent, suffered only 12 reportable injuries during the protest during August.
And what were those injuries?
Only four of the 12 reportable injuries involved any contact with protesters at all and all were at the lowest level of seriousness with no further action taken.
The other injuries reported included “stung on finger by possible wasp”; “officer injured sitting in car”; and “officer succumbed to sun and heat”. One officer cut his arm on a fence when climbing over it, another cut his finger while mending a car, and one “used leg to open door and next day had pain in lower back”.
My heart bleeds.