Oops! Police at the Climate Camp in Kent have dropped a clanger – or more specifically a copy of their demonstrators=turrists handbook, the NETCU Policing Protest Pocket Legislation Guide (“For Police Use Only”).
NETCU? Who they? Well, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit “forms part of the national policing response to domestic extremism”, and gives advice to individual police forces and other ‘enforcement agencies’ relating to this. There’s even a handy little biography on the inside page of Policing Protest (with even handier contact details):
NETCU provides tactical advice and guidance on policing single-issue domestic extremism. The unit also supports companies and other organisations that are the targets of domestic extremism campaigns. NETCU reports through the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) to the Association of Chief Police Officers Terrorism and Allied Matters – ACPO(TAM) committee.
National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU)
PO Box 525, Huntingdon, PE29 9AL
Tel: 01480 425091
Fax: 01480 425007
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to public authorities in England and Wales. Under the Act, organisations listed in Schedule 1 to the Act – either by name or by description – have to provide public access to information they hold. NETCU is not a public authority as defined by Schedule 1 and therefore there are no obligations on NETCU to disclose information under the Act. Police forces are advised not to release this guide following freedom of information requests.
Edition 2 – November 2007
It could be seen as a successor to projects such as ARNI, the Animal RIghts National Index which was subsequently rolled out to encompass a wide range of environmental and social activists.
And let us also consider NETCU’s targeting of groups it considers to be engaged in ‘tertiary terrorism’ (most notably animal rights campaigns such as SHAC).
From creating databases which log the activities of entirely lawful groups and individuals, through to the arbitrary casting of politically-motivated behaviours beyond the spheres of the lawful, unlawful or criminal into the less rationally-bound romper room labelled terrorism (with all its attendant emotional responses); that is the nature of the NETCU game.
In other words, through bureaucratic manoeuvring, artless sophistry and ideologically-motivated authoritarianism, NETCU shifts the goalposts for what passes for legal protest. Thus a terrorist is not defined by her or his actions, but by having been labelled a terrorist (by way of ‘domestic extremist’). Thus terrorism is not “the systematic use of terror, esp as a means of coercion” (Penguin Pocket English Dictionary, 1990), it is any activity undertaken by those previously defined by the new terms of reference as ‘terrorists’.
That the NETCU website is liberally sprinkled with pictures of yogurt-weaving peace marchers, clowns(!) and, erm, the Countryside Alliance should give an indication of exactly whom the organisation considers a ‘domestic extremist’ – that’s right, pretty much anyone who ever dares dissent from the Westminster-approved script.
So read the Policing Protest book and find out how you should behave in future lest you accidentally become a dangerous terrorist.
- Policing Protest story on IndyMedia (part 1)
- Policing Protest story on IndyMedia (part 2)
- Policing Protest (PDF) (v1)
- NETCU Watch (anti-NETCU blog)