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Why are police spying on greens at all, given levels of big business crime?

There are many other disturbing issues about PC Mark Kennedy’s 10-year under-cover rampage against environmental activists than whether he slept with a number of female participants to gain information. Perhaps the most obvious one, which seems to have gone unremarked on so far, is how it is justified for the police, given the pressure on resources and the public’s persisting anxieties about property crime and personal security, to go to such expensive and risky lengths to infiltrate under-cover officers (Kennedy says there were several) into organisations that offered no threat to national security and were protesting about very genuine matters of public interest. Who decided this order of priorities? Does it reflect the public’s concerns or the interests of major business groups?

Simon Jenkins effectively captures the Orwellian extravagance of Home Office bureaucracy that leads to perversities of this kind when he notes that Kennedy worked for NPOIU (National Public Order Intelligence Unit) which operates as a branch of NDEU (National Domestic Extremism Unit) which works alongside NETCU (National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit) which reports to ACPO(TAM) – the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee. What is seriously disturbing is that NPOIU isn’t even a public body at all – it’s a private force sub-contracted in 1997 to operate the police end of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and therefore even less accountable than MI5. All this to spy on environmental activists who were protesting at a coal-fired power station in the Midlands to draw attention to the dangers of climate change!

A full public inquiry is now required which investigates several related issues. Is public order policing now out of control when it involves such disproportionate use of resources out of kilter with public priorities and when it leads to such improper tactics as secret entrapment of peaceful protesters? Why were 114 persons pre-emptively arrested at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal station, and why then were only 6 charged? Why were the defendants not permitted under the restrictive disclosure rules to learn about the under-cover police involvement which could have affected the verdict?

There are big civil libertarian issues here about the underhand restraining or suppression of democratic rights to protest or demonstrate, whether the issue is climate change or rebellion against massive spending cuts or the trebling of tuition fees. This is even more sensitive an issue when Whitehall accountability, especially on security issues, has all but collapsed and when the Parliamentary system is widely perceived to be failing to lack effective checks and balances. After the police over-reaction at the G20 protests, the kettling on Westminster Bridge, and now after these revelations of illicit police entrapment, a wholesale review of both police strategy and tactics is now urgently required.

2 Comments

  1. Forlornehope says:

    There is a surprising amount of ignorance, well not really surprising, about the implications of trying to shut down a large power station. When the 500 MW plus generators were first built there were several accidents that cost people their lives. These plants operate with massive quantities of steam at very high temperatures and pressures, not to mention the high voltage electrical output. To shut the system down requires several days following a defined sequence of operations. Anything less will, as a minimum, cause millions of pounds of damage and at worst a major accident. To describe a protest aimed at causing an emergency shut down as peaceful is simply to display total ignorance of what is being attempted. If the over grown children of the green movement are going to indulge in such stunts then they need to be kept in check.

    BTW – I’m a strong advocate of aggressive action to get off fossil fuels. We will do that with engineering and economics not by silly stunts that simply discredit those taking this seriously.

  2. me says:

    Political policing. 🙁

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