Four reasons to close down the police’s domestic extremism unit
The annual Domestic Extremism Awareness Day took place on 5 February and for the third year, there was widespread online mockery of the term 'domestic extremist', something that campaigners recognise means whatever the police want it to mean when applied to political dissent.
However, this year there was a serious message too: a call for the closure of the National Domestic Extremism & Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), the discredited police unit responsible for surveillance on protesters.
On Domestic Extremism Awareness Day we offered four reasons why the NDEDIU should shut down
(and none of them was simply that NDEDIU is such a terrible acronym).
Is Prevent the least transparent public programme in Britain?
In December, we released a secret audio recording of a counter-terrorism police officer, at a Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP) training event for a group of public sector staff, making lurid allegations about anti-fracking activists.
However, none of the five police forces in the north west of England, where the recording was made, will confirm how many opponents of fracking are targeted by Prevent. Find out more here
What do the Heathrow 13 convictions tells us about future civil disobedience?
In January, thirteen environmental activists were warned they faced imprisonment following convictions for aggravated trespass
at Heathrow airport last summer. This threat is unusual: normally, breaking the law as an act of conscience leads to a conditional discharge. We argue, however, that the Heathrow 13 case is a reminder the courts are only prepared to accept what constitutes ‘peaceful’ protest within strict limits. Find out more here
Barton Moss protesters not guilty in 'slow walk' protest case
The decision of a district judge in Manchester to acquit two protesters of aggravated trespass during a ‘slow walk’ protest at Barton Moss anti-fracking camp in February 2014 has led the Crown Prosecution Service to drop twenty similar cases, with up to twenty more under review.
The ruling also throws new light on the conduct of Greater Manchester Police's Tactical Aid Unit – and paints a rather different picture of the Barton Moss protests than the one repeatedly pushed by the police. Read our analysis here
At war: the rise of militarised policing
From 8-10 March, many of the companies that provide the technology and support – from surveillance equipment and body armour to secure fencing – for an increasingly militarised model of policing in the UK are gathering behind closed doors for ‘Security and Policing 2016‘, a sales exhibition in Farnborough. The event has been billed as enabling exhibitors “to display products which would be too sensitive to show in a more open environment”.
In response, a coalition of groups, including Netpol, is highlighting concerns about the militarisation of policing and planning opposition against it. Find out why here
Police issue restrictive dispersal orders to Upton anti-fracking protesters
In January, the use by Cheshire Police of controversial antisocial behaviour dispersal powers to exclude protesters from a large area around the evicted Upton anti-fracking camp near Chester represented another example of just how quickly the introduction of new police powers can severely restrict fundamental rights. You can find our analysis here
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Other News and Events
- EVENT: Keep Moving! Launch of Report into the Policing of the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp at Friends Meeting House in Manchester on Wed 24 February. More details here.
- EVENT: Police Spying on Trade Unionists – at Unite's headquarters in London on Thursday 25 February. More details here.
- EVENT: Were you targeted by undercover police? A series of roundtable events around the country organised by the Undercover Research Group (and supported in Cardiff and Bristol by Netpol) are bringing together those who were spied on, or who have strong suspicions that they may have been. Find out how to take part here.
- Police facing call to publish list of their undercover spies as 133 'core participants' of the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing write to its chair asking for the fake names of the spies and the groups that were infiltrated.
- Met police refuse to release report on claim secret 'domestic extremist' files on Green Party peer Jenny Jones were destroyed, claiming it is under no obligation to release findings into whether it improperly deleted data about her.
- Cardiff Uncut protesters found not-guilty: after seven months facing remand, electronic tagging, a curfew and exclusion from the entire city of Cardiff (where they had previously lived), two May Day protesters are finally acquitted and a shocking video of their arrest is made public.
- An inquest is told police restrained Philmore Mills before his death in hospital, handcuffing him and holding on the floor after he allegedly became aggressive to staff treating him for pneumonia.
- Calls for drilling company IGas to pay for huge policing operation that evicted their now abandoned Upton site have come from both the local Labour MP and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner. Netpol has asked what steps Cheshire Police has taken to recover the money spent and how much it spend bringing in officers from two other forces - you can find our Freedom of Information request here.
- More than 22000 children were held overnight in custody in 2014-15, according to research by the BBC. One was only eight years-old.
- 2016 is the beginning of the end of the government's Prevent 'anti-radicalisation' programme, argues Dilly Hussain. Netpol provides admin support for the 'Together Against Prevent campaign and the Resources section of its website is now fully updated.