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Uncomfortable similarities to a police state

Police StateThe latest revelation that the police have been trying to recruit informants about the political activities of university students produces an unpleasant and disturbing reaction that Britain is drifting into an authoritarian state where suppression of human rights and civil liberties is becoming commonplace. The Guardian reports that the police officer from a covert unit says it is necessary to to find informants to target ‘student-union type stuff’ because the police cannot infiltrate their own officers into universities. In other words, they would if they could.

But what for? If there was evidence that students were regularly indulging in violence or planning serious damage, that would be quite another matter. But students virtually never take part in violent demonstrations, at least in the UK, and political protest (often entirely justified) has always been part of student life as they as young adults confront the State they inherit. There is also the very real question, given that crime levels still remain far too high, whether this is a justified use of scarce police time as funded by the taxpayer.

So should the police be doing this at all? If this were an isolated incident, perhaps not too much attention would be given to it. But it isn’t. It is rather the latest revelation in a string of exposures of police activity which are deeply worrying and have seriously eroded the public’s confidence in the police.

  • At Hillsborough the police extensively altered police records, impugned the reputations of the 96 dead, and fabricated information in order to avoid blame.
  • The Macpherson report in 1997 found that investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence was ‘bedevilled’ by institutional racism in the Metropolitan police.
  • Ian Tomlinson’s death at the G20 protest was put down by the police to a heart attack and the fact that he was violently pushed to the ground by a police officer was concealed, and only came to light when a visiting businessman happened to take pictures on his iPhone and gave the pictures to the police.
  • The police gave extensive evidence to the phone-hacking News International about details of cases that might be of interest to a scandal-seeking media, in return for money which altogether has been estimated at £130,000.
  • The police and MI5 assisted in providing information (whether true or false) to blacklist construction workers, without the victims knowing this or having any opportunity to refute the charge, which lost over 3,200 of them their jobs sometimes for decades.
  • In police under-cover activity, involving at least 40 police officers, police spied on environmental activists, including in 11 cases engaging in sexual relationships with the targeted individuals whilst concealing the true motive and nature of the relationship.
  • In the case of Andrew Mitchell it now seems clear that the police at 10 Downing Street framed him in order to vent their anger at certain government policies towards the police.
  • And now we have evidence of the police seeking informants against student political protests, as well as mass surveillance of people’s private communications about which the public knew nothing till Snowden’s revelations.

So given all that, how would one best describe the British state in its current formation? It is not currently a police state, though exposing some uncomfortable resemblances, but it is certainly enough to require a full-scale Royal Commission into police integrity and the ethics and principles of policing.

4 Comments

  1. John Reid says:

    Ian Tomlinsons death wasnt concealed, city police were told by 4 different Met officers that Harwood pushed Tomlinson, and others made. Pocket book entries,City of London coroners appointed Patel to do the autopsy, against the wishes of both acuity and,met police ,he found no cases of internal bleeding,on fortunately he made such a bodge of the autopsy remains that second autopsy couldn’t be considered bye one reasonable doubt, to be accepted as internal bleeding, the fact that city police didn’t tell IPCC that they been told by police that ,that incident took place,is down to city police, whether the 8 P.Cs who noted at harwood assaulted Tomlinson would have came to light, not considered a heart attack, had the mollie phone footage not come to light,is questionable,

    It hasn’t been proved that the police impugned the dead at Hilsborough, neither has it been proved that they fabricated info

    Regarding spying on environmental activists, these include those who want to blow up power stations or those who dug up the grave of an old lady and kidnapped her remains,
    Regarding Stephen Lawrence, both Paul Boateng Jack straw and Trevor Philips have said the police aren’t institutionally racist anymore, but the Labour party is still institutionally racist ,as the Labour Party automatically assumes Black people vote labour, I’ve looked online can’t find anywhere did anyone in the McPherson report say that the police were bedevilled with racism, one ex copper made that allegation last month, but that’s not proof,

    As for Andrew Mitchell, all he said was that he didn’t say the words attributed to him, he certainly used the wordless several times to criticise other members of staff, Michael Portillo said he sad it, and he certainly swore at police, these things don’t justify the police officer pretending to be a member of the public to criticise him but he did use most of the words attributed to him,

  2. Robert says:

    Go on John go for it mate, stand up for the police you will be telling us next nothing happened at Hillsborough.

  3. swatantra says:

    I don’t think a small section of so-called fans can be totally devoid of all responsibility for what happened on that fateful day. Certainly the Police were to blame for not maintaining proper crowd control. But they are damned if they do by kettling and segregating, and damned if they don’t for not taking tougher measures. Its not an easy job. But standards have to be maintained, and its not helped by falsifying the records.

  4. John Reid says:

    Robert I won’t be doing any such thing,

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