The not-so-secret 'guide to policing protest'

Sometime during a busy day of policing the Camp For Climate Action, near Kingsnorth Power Station in Kent, an officer dropped a so-called 'Pocket Legislation Guide on Policing Protest'. The document, issued by the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU), gives an overview of legislation the police can use to stifle all forms of legitimate protest. The document, which is supposedly not for public consumption, was subsequently posted on Indymedia UK by a camper attending the Climate Camp.

NETCU describe themselves as "promoting a coordinated response to domestic extremism by providing tactical advice to the police service, and information and guidance to industry and government." According to NETCU Watch, an online initiative to monitor the service's activities, the main purpose of their existence is to monitor protest groups, especially related to animal rights campaigns. A further concern is that the police seem to be supporting commerce (especially the vivisection industry) beyond their remit of upholding the law.

Newswire: Police drop top secret NETCU guide to policing protest - Part 1 | Police drop top secret NETCU guide to policing protest - Part 2 | Download full document (PDF)

Links: NETCU Watch | Liberty | Freedom Of Information Act

The following text is taken from the NETCU Watch website: http://www.netcuwatch.org.uk/

The National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) promotes a coordinated response to domestic extremism by providing tactical advice to the police service, and information and guidance to industry and government. NETCU is headed by Cambridgeshire police officer Superintendent Stephen Pearl and \x93forms part of the national policing response to domestic extremism\x94. Basically they exist in order to monitor animal rights protests as few other protests are mentioned on their website: http://www.netcu.org.uk

On their website they report arrests of animal rights activists and details of prison sentences handed out. Although they do not mention people who are not charged when falsely arrested, they conveniently \x93forget\x94 to mention when people are no longer under investigation! Using words such as \x93extremist\x94 to describe individual activists is another rather inappropriate abuse of their position. Newspaper reports do indeed seem to have been using this site as a reference and have almost regurgitated NETCU\x92s briefings.

Of further concern that the police are blatantly supporting the vivisection industry beyond their remit of upholding the law is the links page that was initially advertised. Pro-vivisection lobby groups and industry interest groups included were as followed;

Animals in Medicines Research Information Centre http://www.abpi.uk/amric which was set up by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, \x93provides information about the role of animals in the development of medicines\x94.

Coalition for Medical Progress, http://www.medicalprogress.org ,\x93an alliance of organisations that work to explain the benefits of animal research and medical progress\x94.

Research Defence Society, http://www.rds-online.org.uk , \x93works to promote understanding of\x85animal research\x94.

Science Media Centre, http://www.sciencemediacentre.org \x93provides general advice and support to scientists\x94. This includes a guide entitled \x93when animal research hits the headlines\x94 and is entirely pro animal experimentation!

Victims of Animal Rights Extremism (VARE), http://www.vare.org.uk. A support group for alleged \x93victims\x94.

No website countering these views was found on the links page. Not even the RSPCA gets a mention. The police who are supposed to be impartial have no right to promote animal experimentation in this way. Whatever their personal beliefs are using public resources in order to promote their political agenda is inexcusable and deeply sinister. The term \x93malfeasance in public office\x94 springs to mind.

NETCU also recommend that companies try to obtain high court injunctions under the Protection from Harassment act which is again outside their remit as this is within the civil realm. So far no case has actually been to trial and it is only interim injunctions which are in force. Directly quoting NETCU, \x93High Court injunctions have also provided clarity to protest groups and activists by defining what constitutes an acceptable level of protest\x94, and so multinational companies define what is \x93acceptable\x94, get an interim injunction and this is then debated in court. Not mentioned by NETCU is the fact that High Court injunctions can be obtained by anyone (including animal rights people who are being harassed by animal abusers) who can show evidence of being harassed. What harassment actually is does not really seem to have been defined but often polite letters or the mere sight of peaceful activists are often quoted as \x93harassing\x94. By this measure the whole legal system could potentially be thrown into disarray by those who hate garden gnomes, chuggers, cold callers, etc, etc!

There are also some concerns that NETCU have given personal information concerning individual activists to companies who seek injunctions and that the unit have been somewhat economical with the truth. This is utterly inappropriate and quite possibly unlawful behaviour. Anyone who is offended by the blatant pro-vivisection stance of NETCU or has had anything untruthful published about them could consider taking action.

Complaints concerning Superintendent Stephen Pearl and his team should be sent to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), 5th Floor, 90 High Holborn, London, WC1V6BH, enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk tel 0845 3002002.

Topic revision: r4 - 05 Aug 2008, AnimalRep
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