Tag Archives: #UKuncut

Not FIT for purpose? Police ‘Forward Intelligence Team’ implicated in student protest fit-up

Remember the Forward Intelligence Teams? Well, camera-wielding cops are back in the news again, this time in relation to the policing of the anti-cuts and student protests that exploded across the country at the end of last year. It seems that at least one FIT officer – according to the London Evening Standard – has been implicated in a shameless attempt to fit up a protester on false charges at the ‘DayX3′ protest on 9 December.

Unfortunately for the police involved it seems that the FIT cop was wired for sound and, after catching a young protester who had “breached a police cordon”, that officer was apparently recorded as he “conspired to falsely arrest the 20-year-old” with his colleagues. The arrestee sustained a broken tooth in the arrest. The circumstances are now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

You may remember that the FIT has history with the IPCC. Experienced FIT cops, including PC Alan Palfrey from Camden, PC Steve Discombe and others, witnessed the deadly assault on Ian Tomlinson by riot cop PC Simon Harwood at the 2009 G20 protests, but failed to come forward and give evidence until long after the original police narrative (‘a tragic collapse/police under hail of missiles’) had been discredited. Their unwillingness to come forward helped stymy attempts to properly investigate the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death, and Harwood – a veteran on the Territorial Support Group – was able to avoid justice as the clock ran down in his favour. The Crown Prosecution Service announced in July 2010 that no charges would be brought against Harwood.

So just what legitimate purpose do the FITs serve? We have seen, as with the Tomlinson case, that these so-called experts in political protest are not actually very good at identifying ‘domestic extremists‘ (as their bosses in the publicly unaccountable National Public Order Information Unit like to call any protesters they don’t like – which boils down to anyone involved in effective activism) – otherwise why would they point out a luckless bystander like Ian Tomlinson for TSG special treatment?

We have also seen FIT officers direct violent attacks on activists when they question why some cops are not wearing their identifying numbers in order to have them photographed against their will, even when they knew full well who they were, in a manner consistent not with any desire to maintain public order or to prevent crime, but to embarrass, humiliate or otherwise harm recalcitrant protesters.

And now we appear to have FIT cops directly involved in brazen attempts to subvert the law, and possibly even to assault those they do not like.

But then should we expect anything else? The FITs are police units tasked with ‘harassment policing’ – identifying, surveilling, folllowing and hassling persons of interest in a range of fields, be it in relation to football fans, antisocial behaviour on housing estates or political protest. Their targets might never have committed an offence; but then that is the point – this is, after all, harassment policing, in which the message is loud and clear: if you come onto our radar, we will do our best to intimidate you, scare you, threaten you.

No, the reason the FIT are tolerated, nurtured, supported by the police is clear – to make life uncomfortable for anyone who challenges the status quo, to grind down those who fight against injustices and inequalities (by means legal or otherwise), and to dissuade others from taking action by illustrating just how unpleasant it can be. It’s education in action: pour encourager les autres.

The youth are revolting! #dayx2 – DON’T CHAT TO FEDS!

Banner at Trafalgar Square from today’s London end of the #dayx2 anti-cuts protest, screencapped from excellent vid by The Gabber:

Plenty of great, inspiring, take-no-shit-from-cops action across the country.

Here in Bristol around 2,000 people played cat-and-mouse with police, streaking across town from College Green, through the University precinct, into Broadmead and Cabot Circus, taking over roads and streets… I hear there was something of a kettle towards the end, but for the most part it was a highly mobile and militant mob which one step ahead of attempts to contain it. Well done people!

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: A moment of victory – FITwatch blog back online…

In the words of the FITwatch blog team:

We’re backs!

And with a secure server, massive coverage and a clear message that we’re here to stay.

On Monday night we received notification that our site had been suspended due to “attempting to pervert the course of justice” due to our posting offering advice to the Millbank students. Whilst the email requesting the site be closed on the basis it was being used for “criminal activity” came from DI Paul Hoare, from the Police Central e-crime Unit, the authorisation to close was given much closer to home, by acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson. Hodgeson, who was involved in the first Fitwatch case, and has sat through many of our trials and appeals, evidently finally had enough and decided to shut us down.

However, through totally underestimating the power of social media, this pathetic attempt has failed miserably. Within minutes of networking what had happened, people were re-publishing the post anywhere and everywhere. There are now over 100 sites carrying the original post – we haven’t managed to count them all. We have been overwhelmed by the support and solidarity and send massive thanks to everyone who’s offered to help and reposted the information. If we haven’t replied personally, it’s only because we’ve been inundated, and haven’t had time.

This was a real attempt to squash dissent and criticism of the police, as well as attempting to stifle common sense advice to protesters subject to a witch hunt by the right wing press. The solidarity given by so many people has ensured this hasn’t happened, and has shown we can fight back. Even if we were to be arrested and prosecuted now, we would still be grateful to CO11 for the amount of publicity they’ve generated for us.

We’re back, and we’re stronger than ever.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: FITwatch press release on the Met Police taking down website

FITwatch press release concerning the shut down of fitwatch.org.uk by the Metropolitan Police

NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release

15th November 2010

*Police shut down activist website after support of demo students*

Police have shut down an activist website for openly supporting the student demonstrations at Millbank. FITwatch – a direct response to police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) – has a history of challenging excessive police surveillance and breaches of civil rights.

The website was shut down at the request of the Metropolitan police after FITwatch issued advice to students fearful of arrest after the Millbank demonstration. A number of national newspapers made reference to an activist ‘anti-police site’ that urged demonstrators not to panic into giving themselves up.

“Our advice was simply good sense based on the understanding we have of police operations”, said Val Swain, a FITwatch activist. “We don’t want to see students arrested, convicted and criminalised for what was an entirely justified action.”

The Metropolitan police applied to the websites host to suspend the site on the grounds that it was involved in ‘criminal activities’- specifically, ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.

“This is an attack on freedom of speech,” said Emily Apple, another FITwatch activist. “The police don’t like what we do. They have seized a flimsy excuse to shut us down, and are trying to silence criticism of the police, and support for political dissent”

*For more information, contact:*

defycops@yahoo.co.uk

Notes for the Editor:

i. The use of the domain name www.fitwatch.org.uk has been suspended following a request to the web hosting company, Just Host, from the Metropolitan police. The Met claimed the site was being used for ‘criminal activities’ following comments made on the blog following the student demo at Millbank. The police stated that the blog was being used in an ‘attempt to pervert the cause of justice’.

ii. Fitwatch published an article on Friday 12th November that contained advice to protesters who were fearful of being identified by press photography, cctv or FIT. That advice has been copied widely around the internet, indicating the support that FITwatch has received on this issue. A copy of the post can be found at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468002.html?c=on#comments

iii. FITwatch contributed to a major story on the police use of ‘protester databases’ in the Financial Times on 17th October 2009.

iv. FITwatch was also in the news in July when the Evening Standard reported on a court victory by three Fitwatch supporters who had successfully challenged the right of police to place attendees at an open public meeting under surveillance. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23860752-protesters-rights-were-violated-by-met-surveillance.do

v. A number of FITwatch activists are currently taking legal action against the police for assault and unlawful arrest

vi. A number of newspapers including the Mail and Independent carried the story of ‘anti-police’ website giving advice. The Independent stated:

“Activist websites have published step-by-step instructions to those who fear they may be identified and arrested in the aftermath of the violence. One anti-police site told participants to destroy potential evidence, including clothing and any distinctive jewellery worn. A contributor urged demonstrators not to panic or give themselves up as a result of the flood of media coverage.”

vii. The last post to the site before suspension was highly critical of the way the police have been capitalising on the aftermath of the protests to defend their own budgets and justify repression of protesters.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Watching the detectives behind the website shutdown

The letter sent to FITwatch’s website hosts was written over the names of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgson and Detective Inspector Paul Hoare.

DI Hodgson, from Public Order Crime Team in the CO11 Public Order branch of the Metropolitan Police, is in charge of Operation Malone, the Met’s investigation into the events at the Millbank building in Central London last week during the #demo2010 student protests. It would appear that his most high profile work before this was busting ticket touts.

DI Hoare, on the other hand, seems to be a cyber crime specialist working out of the Met’s Central eCrime Unit (PCEU). DI Hoare may be found on business networking site LinkedIn, which helpfully tells us that previously he spent four-and-a-half years doing a similar job at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the half-baked British attempt at an FBI-type outfit.

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: “I’m FITwatch, and so’s my wife!” Cop censorship backfires as news of arbitrary website shutdown goes viral

Met Police website takedown backfires as interwebz comes out to support FITwatch

WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: The FITwatch takedown letter – cops demand hosts shut down police watchdog website

A letter from the hosts of the FITwatch blog – taken down at the behest of the Metropolitan Police – has been published on IndyMedia, and it makes for interesting reading, not least because it also includes the text of the cops’ email to the hosting company…

Hi [recipient's name deleted],

We received a request to close an account the site mentioned below is hosted on:

Request from Metropolitan Police in London Uk to remove website used
for criminal purpose – fitwatch.org.uk IP 69.175.66.250

APPLICATION FOR CLOSURE OF A UK BASED DOMAIN NAME
Fitwatch.org.uk – IP 69.175.66.250

To whom it may concern at Singlehop

Op Malone
In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:

• The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities. Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law

We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months. Please note that this request will be also sent to the domain name registrar for the website. You should provide the following contact phone number, email address and reference number to the registrant: 0207 230 8100 pceu@met.pnn.police.uk

REASON FOR CLOSURE

This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law. The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.

The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK. Therefore to prevent the domain names from being used in crime we request that the domain name is suspended for a minimum period of 12 months (or until expiry of the domain name if earlier).

This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
(a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
(b) which has a tendency to, and
(c) is intended to pervert,
(d) the course of public justice.

Registrant Information for fitwatch.org.uk

Registrant : [DELETED]

All other personal details withheld

Registered on : 17-Nov-2008

Authority to close the website and IP address given by

Will Hodgeson, Acting Detective Inspector

Metropolitan Police

CO11 Public Order Branch

Many Thanks in Advance

Yours faithfully

DI Paul Hoare

Police Central e-crime Unit (Computer Crime Unit)
SCD6 Economic & Specialist Crime Command, Metropolitan Police.

1st floor, Indigo Block, Cobalt Square
1 South Lambeth Road,
London
SW8 1SU
0207 230 8100
pceu@met.pnn.police.uk


Kind regards,

[Senders' name deleted]
Just Host
http://www.justhost.com

JustHost
SingleHop