Tuesday, June 23, 2009

POLICING TODAY - shame on Kent police


Policing at the Kingsnorth climate change protest last year, has already been subject of much public criticism.

The latest scandal concerns two women arrested for merely observing the conduct of officers at the climate change camp.

It is difficult having seen the film available on the Guardian website, of the arrests of Val Swain and Emily Apple, how policing here in Kent, appears to differ, little from many tin pot regimes around the world.

I can well understand how irritating it must be for police officers to have their work, scrutinised by activists who in this case are members of a protest group called Fit Watch, who, whether we like it or not have a reasonable and legitimate concern over police forward intelligence teams.

Police forward intelligence teams, are officers who are tasked with monitoring demonstrations and meetings and taking photographs and film of activists, on the off chance, one presumes that they might be terrorists or have some similar criminal intent.

Like me, you are probably, reassured that our police force are checking up on dangerous, animal rights protesters, religious extremists, fascists and Marxists.

Clearly Kent police leave no stone unturned, in their search for dangerous citizens, just how far they'll go to intrude in people's lives was highlighted earlier in the year by the BBC a radio four documentary, which told the story of magistrate Richard Knox-Johnson. Click here for BBC story

Mr. Knox-Johnston who also happens to be Chairman of Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, had attended a public discussion prior to the Kingsnorth climate change protest and spoken about climate change throughout the world, for his troubles, his photograph was taken and number plate noted.

Allyn Thomas Assistant Chief Constable of Kent police excused intrusive surveillance as per this quotation from the BBC "Because we know people feel very strongly about these environmental concerns, there is the possibility that there will be some outburst, whether it's just unpleasantness or criminality.

"So to be on the prudent side, we do collect information in a discreet way so if there is some problem we know who to investigate," he added.

The women I mentioned earlier as being arrested at last years climate change protest have made a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, after being held in custody for four days released with no court case.

No doubt after many months the IPCC will reach a conclusion about this complaint, and maybe they'll also at some time reach a conclusion over that other extraordinary bit of policing when a police officer hit Ian Tomlinson from behind which may well have resulted in his death a minute or two later.

As we are aware, it's not possible for the Chief Constable Mr. Fuller, to comment on specific cases which is probably also true of Ann Barnes the chair of the Kent Police Authority but wouldn't it be nice if they could both make a general statement condemning police officers from abusing their authority, as might well be the case, in this instance.

Police officers are highly paid public servants, who in my experience are always professional as one would expect, however this doesn't seem to be the case at Kingsnorth, and given some of the evidence about surveillance, the chances are that some Kent copper is wasting his time, keeping tabs on me, because I happen to think I live in a democracy and write about it, its a worry!

Chief Constable Fuller, is reported as saying that the majority of residents of Kent " have been very supportive of our actions" in preventing climate protesters from interrupting power supplies, a sentiment that I wouldn't disagree with, except of course where it involves roughing up irritating protesters a couple of miles from the actual power station.

Kent police can be as tought as they like and use as much reasonable force as is necessary to protect life and property but beating up citizens is just not on, in a democracy. I feel sorry for the majority of Kent Police Officers who I'm sure are embarrassed at such events.

Guardian Story includes video of arrest

Kent police give their side of the Kingsnorth story

BBC report click here


  1. These plods have no respect for the law.

  2. In the last year I have lost all respect for the police (especially our local plod). It's gotten to the point that the local rough stuff scare me far less then the "boys in blue" who frankly terrify me even when I know full well I am being a model citizen. If I actually committed a crime the fear alone would kill me. I doubt I'm the only one.

  3. What's up with Blogger's OpenID implementation it's started reporting the endpoint and not my name. Shocking behaviour.

  4. I think the police were too soft

  5. I was so incensed by these appaling police and subsequent CPS tactics (allowing anyone to be remanded in custody in this situation is basically summary "justice") that I have reported the matter to my MP and complained to the Police Disciplinary board.
    Alan Campbell has replied accepting police should be accountable... we will see.

  6. I just found this particular incident astonishing, as I drove down the M2 during the climate change camp, I could not believe the amount of police driving toward the area.

    Kent police seem to me to be out of control.