Archive for the ‘surveillance’ Tag

Kent Police report into Kingsnorth protest policing

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.

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Woman ‘held for filming officers’

Woman ‘held for filming officers’

A woman is seeking a judicial review after she was allegedly detained and handcuffed by police who tried to get her mobile phone after she filmed them.

Gemma Atkinson said police stopped her boyfriend Fred Grace at Aldgate East station on suspicion of carrying drugs.

As she filmed the incident in March in east London an officer asked her to stop, citing anti-terror laws. Officers tried to take the phone, she claims.

The Metropolitan Police said it had received a complaint.

Ms Atkinson, 27, said police found no drugs on her boyfriend during the search on 25 March, but then turned their attention to her.

Ms Atkinson said: “I was still filming when a man [a plainclothes officer] came to me and told me that it was illegal under the Terrorism Act to film police officers.

“I put the phone in my pocket so he couldn’t get to it, he was asking for me to hand it over which I refused to do.

“So then he got other officers to come and hold both my arms then come at me to try and get my phone out of my pocket.

“I was pushed into this alcove in the station and I was yanked up and down for quite a while before I was handcuffed,” she said.

Warning for firms that set up trade union blacklist

Warning for firms that set up trade union blacklist

Major companies which set up and funded a secret blacklist to deny work to thousands of trade unionists will escape prosecution, it emerged today.

A judge fined a private investigator who operated the covert blacklist but said he was not the only person responsible but was financed by big “high street” companies. Major firms in the construction industry will be officially warned that they will be prosecuted if they set up a new blacklist.

Affected trade unionists said they were disappointed that companies which had wrecked workers’ lives had appeared to get away with it. They angrily confronted the private investigator, Ian Kerr, who hid his face as he was driven away.

Kerr, 66, was fined £5,000 at Knutsford crown court, Cheshire after admitting keeping a clandestine database of 3,000 workers for the past 15 years.

The court heard that more than 40 construction companies had given £600,000 in the past five years to Kerr’s agency to record personal and employment details of allegedly troublesome workers.

The Met’s attack on photographers

The Met’s attack on photographers

Today the Metropolitan police service (MPS) issued advice to the public and the media on photography in public places. It details the Met’s interpretation of anti-terrorism legislation, and how these laws should be used against photographers. Professional photographers such as myself view it as part of an ongoing campaign to create a hostile environment for photography in the public sphere.

The advice covers section 44, section 43 and section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 (58a is more commonly known as section 76). On sections 44 and 43, the MPS say that “officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched”.

Hickman & Rose’s Anna Mazzola argues this advice is highly questionable as it “does not take into account the fact that such images may be protected journalistic material – for example, special procedure material.”

Did the MPS seek legal guidance before they distributed this “advice”? Because rather than clarifying the Met’s position, it looks set to cause yet more confusion. As Mazzola says: “If the police truly want to convince journalists that they are committed to allowing freedom of expression and to enabling members of the press to do their jobs, then they should engage with these issues rather than issuing guidance which is likely to hamper them.”

Police team to bug thugs

Police team to bug thugs

CAMERAS are the latest weapon to be used in the fight against crime.

Police officers in Rochford are filming and following prolific offenders to stop them committing more offences.

Operation Bug-A-Thug uses the same big brother- style tactics first trialled in Basildon.

Chief Insp Andy Prophet, of Rochford police, said: “Operation Bug-A-Thug is just good old-fashioned proactive policing.

“We will be following known local offenders and trouble-makers, very much along the lines of the best practice established in Operation Leopard in Basildon.

“We will make use of video cameras and everything else within our powers to track those we know are committing crime and antisocial behaviour.”

Police will only stop hounding the offenders if they agree to be referred to agencies which can help them break the cycle.

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

“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.

For more on Fit Watch please visit their blog. A video of the arrests is available on the Guardian’s website, as is an article by Emily Apple from Fit Watch.

Police caught on tape trying to recruit protester as spy

Police caught on tape trying to recruit protester as spy

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.

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs have today launched an investigation into the use of snooping technology by ISPs which allows them to profile customers for advertisers and throttle or block specific types of traffic.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Communication will examine issues such as the emergence of Phorm’s profiling system, and the restriction of bandwidth available to specific applications such as BitTorrent. Both activities are reliant on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology.

“Now the Internet is part of daily life, concerns are increasingly raised about a wide range of online privacy issues,” the group said in a background statement.

“Should there be changes to individual behaviour? Should companies be pressed to prioritise privacy issues? Or is there a need for specific regulations that go beyond mere ‘data protection’ and address privacy directly?”

When all video all

When all video all

Footage of police officers hitting out at the G20 protests has dominated the news for the past fortnight. But what impact has the proliferation of cameras had on policing?

If there is one recurrent theme in the images of the recent G20 protests, it is what’s held in the hands raised in the air.

Hundreds of cameras rise out of every sea of protests. In the foreground are the digital SLRs and full-size video cameras of the professional media. But in the background there is a profusion of smaller devices.

They are in the background of shots of Nicola Fisher, struck in the leg with a baton, and of Alex Kinnane, hit in the face with a riot shield.

In a time of complaints about the surveillance society, cameras are being used by ordinary people to monitor the activities of those in authority. And the kernel of the idea goes back some years.

“It has been a topic among criminologists ever since the Rodney King incident,” says Prof Philip Stenning, a criminologist at Keele University. “It’s the first obvious example of how the police were brought to book as a result of a camera in the hands of a private citizen.”

Protesters have turned the tables on Big Brother state

Protesters have turned the tables on Big Brother state

Critics of the spread of closed-circuit television, government databases and intercept techniques have long been complaining about the surveillance society. The Big Brother state has, we have been told, encroached on every aspect of our private lives — criminalising us for putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin, spying on what school we send our children to and collating details of our e-mails.

We are becoming a “police state”, or so the people protesting during the G20 summit would have us believe. But those protesters do not appear to have realised that they have turned the tables on the prying state.

Violent demonstrators were caught on camera, but the images of criminality allegedly perpetrated by police officers are causing more of a stir. Journalists, protesters and passers-by photographed and filmed what appear to be acts of police violence against people who posed little threat. Police officers have been suspended and face possible criminal charges.

Around the City of London, investigators are harvesting CCTV from street and shop cameras to trace Ian Tomlinson’s contact with police before he died.

The Met has ordered a minute-by-minute trawl through its own footage and promised to act if it discovers misconduct by its officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has a unit investigating the alleged assault on Nicky Thomson, which goes under the name “G20 YouTube investigation team”.

At any demonstration these days you will find members of FITwatch — activists dedicated to filming the police’s own camera units, or Forward Intelligence Teams.