Tag Archives: territorial support group

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.

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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.

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.

Bring the Met to Heel!

What, more you cry? Well yes, because you need to keep having the evidence shoved in your face to realise just how badly out of control the Metropolitan Police now is. This is a video showing the attack on the Climate Camp protesters by the Territorial Support Group (TSG) riot officers on 1st April:

The bits you’re looking for are at 4:50 and 7:50, and you must remember that this is an attack on protesters who were there legally and 100% peacefully. For some reason people seem to overlook those two rather fundamentally important variables, but in our society you simply can’t. For police violence to be acceptable it must be proportionate – you tell me who’s behaving within the law in that video and who isn’t. The Times runs us through the two principal assaults in the video:

It (4:50) is the moment when an unidentified riot squad officer, his face half-hidden by a black balaclava and visored helmet, was filmed using a round shield to “punch” Alex Cinnane on the left temple.

The video shows the 24-year-old IT technician from London facing away from his assailant, stationary and appearing to offer no physical threat to the police officers surrounding him. His mouth opens in pain as the shield strikes.

“I had turned around to go to someone who was screaming because they were being crushed when he reached out and hit me on my forehead with his shield,” said Cinnane last night. “I was in shock. I had to sit down and felt concussed and nauseous for over an hour. Where he hit me came up in a lump of broken skin.”

Then:

A second video (7:50) shows another riot squad officer delivering a powerful right hook to an unidentified male demonstrator’s jaw as a crowd retreats from an advancing police line. The protester’s head jerks backwards as the punch lands.

Since when were we a nation which policed peaceful protest with violence? Maybe a Met apologist can explain that to me. I thought the police was there to protect our rights and uphold the law, not to enforce their own petty prejudices and attitudes. Something is fundamentally wrong here, and I would take any promise from senior Met officers that things will improve as the lie it will certainly be – as Chris Huhne points out later in the next article, they have made promises about their behaviour before, yet the force is now largely unsuccessful at self-policing. Nick Hardwick, the Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) made clear:

his concerns about incidences of officers disguising their identifying numbers, which should always be displayed on the shoulders of their uniforms, arguing that colleagues should have reported such wrongdoing.

“I think that raises serious concerns about the frontline supervision,” Hardwick said. “Why was that happening, why did the supervisor not stop them? What does that say about what your state of mind is? You were expecting trouble?

“I think that is unacceptable. It is about being servants, not masters: the police are there as public servants.

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.

Why Were The Police Anonymous?

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald asks:

We need to be on the same side as the police. And the police need to be on the same side as the rule of law. In classical common law doctrine, this means that they are subject to exactly the same constraints as the rest of us. This is not a weakness in their armoury. On the contrary, under our system it is their greatest strength because it brings the police the co-operation and consent of the public.

So here are some questions for the IPCC to consider as it investigates the events leading to Ian Tomlinson’s death: why were British police officers attending a demonstration in the heart of London with their identifying numbers hidden? In the absence of a fire risk, who authorised them to pull balaclavas up over their heads? And why didn’t they want anyone to see their faces?

I’d be interested in hearing an answer from the apologists for the Territorial Support Group’s (TSG) and other cops’ behaviour that day. This is the former DPP – the man ultimately responsible for prosecutions in England, not some lefty, liberal commentator, who can clearly see what happened that day.

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).