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.