Tag Archives: police brutality

IPCC Demands the Met Be Muzzled

A pointless demand of course because the Met will just ignore them. But still:

The police has been told to immediately change the way it controls public protests after it emerged that a young woman may have suffered a miscarriage after being manhandled by officers at the G20 protests.

The incident was highlighted by the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission. In a report they said that a 23-year-old woman was at the Climate Camp in Bishopsgate in central London during the protests on 1 April when, it is alleged, she was kicked and pushed by officers with shields and batons.

This left her with a bruising on her arms and legs and heavy bleeding which doctors later said could have been indicative of a miscarriage although the woman says she was not aware whether she was pregnant or not and it has never been medically confirmed if this was the case.

Yet despite bleeding heavily the woman was not allowed to leave the area of Bishopsgate for five hours. The IPCC report, released following an investigation into claims made by the woman, condemned this and the fact that the woman pushed back by an officer using a “short shield” – a tactic which was developed by the Metropolitan Police, but has never been approved nationally.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, the alleged victim, who has not been named, said she feared for her life during the incident.

I want people to realise they did this for no reason. No reason. Whether she had a miscarriage or not, for a woman to be bleeding heavily by an unprovoked and unjustified police assault, and then to be denied medical attention, should mean someone gets prosecuted. But not only is that not being pushed for, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is failing to acknowledge the cause – this wasn’t a problem with training, it wasn’t even a problem with tactics on the day per se (although unprovoked violence is a pretty damned serious problem). The violence exhibited by the Met that day was a result of them having been whipped up into a frenzy for weeks by senior commanders who predicted violence by protesters, without any evidence any was being planned. Yet they quite brazenly used their territorial support group (TSG) as a deliberately violent tool to counter non-violent dissent:

The IPCC report said video footage shows one officer pushing the woman with a short riot shield while another uses his forearm against her chest and neck.

“It is clear from video footage that she is unable to move backwards due to the number of people behind her,” the report said.

The officers involved were identified as being from the TSG and from Richmond and Twickenham, in south-west London.

A spokesman for the force said the incident offered “a real opportunity for lessons”, adding that it was already reviewing tactics following similar recommendations by Denis O’Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, in a report released a month ago.

He added: “A senior Metropolitan police service officer has offered to meet with the complainant to discuss the potential learning from this incident and apologise for distress caused.”

We are in the post-Blair age of governing by belief, with solutions being provided by professional politicians and civil servants, without problems to justify them. The Met had decided there would be a ‘summer of rage’, announced their intention to be violent in response, and then followed through on their boasts. This mad culture is so ingrained that they didn’t think they’d be called on it, and they may not have if they hadn’t caused Ian Tomlinson’s death. Yet despite his death, the media frenzy which followed, the O’Connor report and the IPCC censure here, the final paragraph above suggests they are unlikely to change their behaviour any time soon. The Metropolitan Police will remain a quasi-militia under no meaningful governmental control – we can’t stand for this.

The Police Haven’t Learned From Kingsnorth

Following the release of the report into the Kingsnorth climate camp protest, Emily Apple doesn’t think so:

None of the civil liberties concerns raised by activists and politicians in relation to the camp are addressed. In fact, the report praises the police for meeting one of their key objectives of “facilitating peaceful protest”, which is simply not true. Facilitating protest must include adherence to all human rights law, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Stating that, during a protest which extended over several days, the police facilitated one march at the end of the week ignores all the civil liberties abuses which took place at the camp itself.

While no mention is made of the use of excessive violence by officers using batons strikes against peaceful protesters, the handwriting of officers is criticised, with fewer than 25% of all forms legible. However, instead of criticising the need for 8,000-plus searches, the report laments the fact there weren’t more details to put onto the police database. The fact details of thousands of protesters has been entered into a database is not examined, nor is the admission this information is disseminated to the Forward Intelligence Teams (Fits), and that people should not give the police personal details if they do not want to end up on such a database.

It’s such a fundamental demonstration of what’s going wrong in this country. Young people in particular care a great deal about environmental politics, and attended the Kingsnorth climate camp in large numbers – entirely peacefully. Not only did the police respond with represssion, intimidation and violence, but the report into their behaviour then whitewashes the entire affair. Not a word from elected representatives, indeed under Jacqui Smith the Home Office pursued climate protesters aggressively in public from then on. It’s yet another result of the way in which the Home Office manages everything – they develop a solution (aggressive policing against an increasing ‘climate protest threat’) without there even being a problem (Prove there’s a threat? You must be joking!). Then they try propaganda to justify their behaviour, but it’s always lies.

The next climate camp will take place between 27th August and 3rd September. I’d like someone who’s intending on going to get in touch please, and discuss how best to record the camp’s achievements and the inevitable police repression.

Don’t Let Met Get Away With More Lies!

Bob Broadhurst would have you believe the outrageous police tactics and violence at the G20 protest in April was the result of undertrained bobbies, inexperienced in protest policing. As Apple points out, don’t you believe it:

However, while it is true that there were inexperienced City police on the frontline, it is disingenuous to imply that they were responsible for the worst of the violence. Most of the major cases of police brutality that have emerged from the G20, including the attacks on Ian Tomlinson and Nicky Fisher, were carried out by territorial support group (TSG) officers. These TSG members are level 1 trained – the highest level of public order training available in the police service – and have faced many allegations of violence.

Of course she’s right. Rookies weren’t the problem here. The conditions for a police riot were set up weeks earlier – they were ‘up for it’ apparently. And what about the extraordinary, preemptive violence against the entirely peaceful climate camp? Broadhurst can’t really think he’ll get away with such bare faced lying, but of course the real systematic problem with the Met was never going to be dealt with. As the miners before them, the climate protesters were seen by police and government as threats to the state as they wanted it to be. Ken Loach suggests that’s indeed the function of the police in our society – to enforce the status quo by violence.

I don’t subscribe to quite such an extreme analysis, but there’s an element of truth to it in looking at police behaviour that day and subsequently. So expect more Met lies, expect more collusion by the Home Affairs select committee, and the odd lowly scapegoat. And then soon after for this whole sorry cycle to continue.

Ask a policeman for his badge number? Arrested!

Last week I attended a screening of ‘Which Side Are You On?’, a 1984 documentary by director Ken Loach. And in it he showed the extent of the police brutality during the Miners’ Strike. Extreme, preemptive violence, and the removal of police ID badge numbers defined their behaviour as agents of the state. In 28 years this video proves nothing has changed:

Two female protesters who challenged police officers for not displaying their badge numbers were bundled to the ground, arrested and held in prison for four days, according to an official complaint lodged today.

The incident was caught on camera, and footage shows officers standing on the women’s feet and applying pressure to their necks immediately after the women attempted to photograph a fellow officer who had refused to give his badge number.

The images are likely to fuel concern over the policing of protests, which is already subject to a review by the national police inspectorate and two parliamentary inquiries after the G20 demonstrations and the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Val Swain, 43, and Emily Apple, 33, both mothers with young children, believe they were deliberately targeted for arrest at last year’s climate camp demonstration in Kent because they campaign for Fit Watch, a protest group that opposes police surveillance at demonstrations.

The pair were remanded to a women’s prison for four days and released only after the demonstration against the Kingsnorth power station had finished. They believe their treatment is symptomatic of the increasingly aggressive approach taken by police at political demonstrations.

It’s not a new tactic, but no less indefensible. Loach argued that this behaviour should not be a surprise because it’s the function of the police, and all the recent evidence suggests he’s right. Mess with the interests of the state, even merely through protest, and they’ll do whatever it takes to stop you. Kingsnorth, Bishopsgate, Ratcliffe-on-Soar – these are only the opening shots in a new round of conflict.

Now the Metropolitan Police…Tortures?

It’s not something they’re not already known to do. But still the newest claims about the Metropolitan Police’s behaviour are shocking:

Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of an anti-corruption inquiry.

The torture claims are part of an investigation which also includes accusations that evidence was fabricated and suspects’ property was stolen. It has already led to the abandonment of a drugs trial and the suspension from duty of several officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique, in which water is poured on to a cloth covering the suspect’s face, causing them to feel they are on the point of suffocation.

Alan Johnson has his work cut out for him. New Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has already abandoned the concept of ‘institutional racism’ as a viable tool to use in Met reform, and has supported his force after the G20 policing disaster (what is going on with the IPCC investigation by the way?). Is it any wonder that fundamental human rights might also be being breached by these thugs?

Met Police Misled the Public?

Unthinkable I know, given the lies they’ve perpetrated about Jean Charles DeMenezes and their role in his death, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has now confirmed they’re investigating the Metropolitan Police for the false  information it released about the circumstances around Ian Tomlinson’s death in the immediate aftermath of the G20 protests on 1st April:

The IPCC deputy chair, Deborah Glass, said: “Not only the Tomlinson family, but also many members of the public and MPs have raised with us concerns about whether the police either misinformed the public about the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death or failed to correct misinformation about how he died.

“I have therefore decided that, not only will we investigate the family’s specific complaint about the content and timing of the MPS media communications on the night of 1 April, but that we should also seek to determine, as far as practicable, the state of knowledge that both the MPS and City of London police had about any police contact with Ian Tomlinson between 1 April 2009 and 7 April 2009.”

I’ll admit the motivation isn’t clear, but it’s certainly one of the two. They said they’d had no prior contact with Tomlinson before his death, and then claimed that they were attacked by the crowd with bottles. Neither statement was remotely true. Medics did tend Tomlinson after his final collapse, but only one bottle was lobbed, and the perpetrator was dealt with by the crowd itself. But why would they not correct their mistake (if that’s what it was) when the evidence was seen and recorded by numerous sources? Could it be lies, collusion, bluster and corruption had worked too well in the past not to be tempted by this time?

Lord West is Once Again Delusional

Now Home Office minister Lord West is getting into the act of defending the Metropolitan Police:

Lord West, speaking in the House of Lords, said “thousands of officers acted absolutely professionally and proportionately, thousands were actually able to demonstrate peacefully on our streets, criminal activity in the rest of the metropolis was kept to an absolute minimum and the police also maintained high levels of security.

“And I think we should be extremely proud of them. This does not excuse acts which are criminal and there are now investigations taking place for those particulars.

“But in general I think we are very well-served by our police. I am very proud of them and the way I approach it generally is they are on our side and they are our people.”

He also defended British police tactics of confronting protesters face-to-face, arguing alternative crowd control methods were worse.

He told peers: “I have to say I do not like the thought of water cannon, baton rounds or shooting people all of which seem to occur in some other countries and I am jolly glad I live in this country. But all of those things will be looked at.”

Thousands were indeed able to demonstrate peacefully on our streets, and the climate camp protesters in particular were initially well served by the Met. Until they had their heads smashed in by the Territorial Support Group (TSG) shock troops later on. It’s not surprising that his perspective on the G20 policing should be skewed though – this is the same Lord West who said of the Home Office’s attempt to deport gay asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi back to Iran:

My Lords, it is worth saying that we are not aware of any individual who has been executed in Iran in recent years solely on the grounds of homosexuality, and we do not consider that there is systematic persecution of gay men in Iran.

So he really is living in a parallel universe to the rest of us. There seems to be a lot of that going about in the Home Office. Nice of him to suggest we’re ungrateful for failing to appreciate that we don’t face worse policing though. We should be grateful for a mere police beating here and there then apparently.

Corporate Police Hits Back!

Sir Ken Jones, the head of ACPO has hit back against the chair of the IPCC, who said the numerous complaints he had received about Met police brutality had raised ‘serious concerns’:

Sir Ken Jones described the approach to tacking demonstrations as “proportionate” despite a series of videos which have provoked anger at officers’ actions.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Sir Ken said: “Mr Hardwick is entitled of course to his own opinions but I think we need to do our research and realise just how well this activity is done in our country.

“I can’t find any other country that doesn’t use water cannon, CS gas, rubber bullets. Our approach is proportionate and, in fact, has delivered on many other occasions.

“But on the question of a review, yes, Acpo has has welcomed that, but I think we need to do it with some objectivity and have a broader perspective than I have seen in the last few days. We need to make sure that we don’t condemn the many for a problem created by the few.”

Sir Ken denied that he was trying to excuse the activities of individual officers, some of whom were alleged to have hidden their identity numbers.

“I’m not making an excuse. What I am saying is that the world is changing,” he said. “The way that some people come to these protests now, particularly in Europe, and offer violence to people, to property, to other legitimate protesters, and, yes, they came to attack the police, this has become an increasingly difficult job for us to pull off.

How ‘well done’ eh? So because we don’t use water cannon, CS gas or rubber bullets, that makes the Met’s behaviour ‘proportionate’? Nicely played. Of course that’s spin, it’s complete garbage, but at the same time it’s clearly going to be the police’s tactic in trying to get past this crisis. It’s a continuation of Tony Blair’s big lie from 9/11, that ‘because the world has changed, our approach needs to be harder, stronger and different’. Yet  the world has not changed, people’s motivations are unchanged, and in comparison with say the 1970s there’s very little protest at all – SOCPA legislation, trades union legislation and anti-terror measures have pretty much put paid to that without a baton being lifted! To suggest it’s increasingly difficult for the police to manage protest and dissent is completely ridiculous. David Hughes adds:

There was nothing proportionate about Ian Tomlinson being roughly pushed to the ground minutes before he collapsed and died. There was even less proportionality in the ugly spectacle of Nicola Fisher being given a back-handed slap across the face by a police officer who’d taken the trouble to conceal his number before he took out his baton and hit her with it. Other examples of heavy-handed (literally) police action are emerging by the day.

No one doubts that the police were subjected to immense provocation. I wouldn’t like to stand in a thin blue line and face a mass of protesters, some of them hell-bent on violence. While they are trained to respond in a measured way, it is blindingly obvious not all of them do and we would have a more sensible debate if people like Sir Ken recognised the fact.

And back to Sir Ken:

“And I think we just need to look at this in the round. I saw some of the footage last week of whole groups of officers being hemmed in. Nobody wants to talk about that now. Those officers behaved really well, they acted with restraint.”

Oh please, he doesn’t even appreciate the irony of his own words! What about the hundreds of protesters and members of the public who weren’t given any choice about being hemmed in by police for hours, without even the liberty to go to the toilet? His stance may be disgusting, but remember, as 45govt in the Telegraph article reminds us:

ACPO* is NOT, as most people believe, part of the Police of the UK, but a private for-profit advisory body staffed by serving and retired plods out to fill their pockets with lucrative govt contracts. A good example would be sending a huge bill for advising that the police brutality at the G20 was entirely proportionate, and we should thank our stars we weren’t all shot in the head. “That will be £200,000 please Minister – ta very much.”

*“The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and coordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO – on behalf of all chief officers – coordinates the strategic policing response.”

It’s a case of corporate policing defending corporate policing. Insidious to say the least. We are in a mess.

The Ian Tomlinson Affair Explodes

First he died of ‘natural causes’, after ‘no prior contact’ with the Metropolitan Police.

Then they ‘protected’ him from a ‘bottle throwing mob’.

Then we find out that they lied about everything. We find that the pathologist responsible for the initial post-mortem had a questionable background in just such scenarios involving the police. We find he was actually hit and shoved forcefully from behind by a Territorial Support Group (TSG) riot police officer, who had masked his features and removed his ID tags (as had many of his colleagues that day). We find the crowd posed no threat whatsoever either to them or Tomlinson.

(photo source)

Now we find Ian Tomlinson really died of an abdominal haemorrage. There is now evidence to link the police attack directly with his death – ‘kettling’ and a presumption of a lack of humanity of all protesters and those in the vicinity appears to have led directly to the manslaughter of an entirely innocent man.

The IPCC this afternoon said:

“Following the initial results of the second postmortem, a Metropolitan police officer has been interviewed under caution for the offence of manslaughter as part of an ongoing inquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson.”

Get out of that one, apologists. I would however hope that should the investigation prove beyond doubt that the TSG officer caused his death, that he not be scapegoated. His behaviour was far from unique that afternoon – this is the fault of the Met as an institution, not one man.

Metropolitan Police: A Brutal Assault

They’re at it again, this time at the vigil in honour of Ian Tomlinson. Proportionate? You tell me:

(thanks to Paul Canning)

So he’s been suspended, which indicates they’re panicking. I see the Guardian says he’s a member of the territorial support group, as was his colleague who attacked Ian Tomlinson. Read this to see what the TSG are really like.

David Winnick MP, a member of the home affairs select committee, said last night the footage showed “more totally unacceptable” behaviour by a police officer.

He added: “The home secretary should make a statement about events at the G20 protests. That statement should include first and foremost Ian Tomlinson’s death and explain why police made a totally misleading statement about their contact with him.”

I’m betting she won’t, but it’s heartening to see some form of parliamentary insight finally making its voice heard, albeit without any action (yet).