Police

1 June 2022News

Police Bill becomes law as UK government commits to scrapping Human Rights Act

The Police Bill received the royal assent on 28 April and thus became law as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

During its passage, the bill was twice returned to the commons by the house of lords with many amendments. The lords removed measures in the bill to give police new powers to: stop protests in England and Wales if they are deemed too noisy and disruptive (in the opinion of the police); impose conditions on protest on noise grounds; stop and search…

1 April 2022News

Report finds culture of racism, misogyny and homophobia among Met police 

Since the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan police officer in March last year, the Met has been embroiled in a series of further scandals.

On 11 March, the high court ruled that the Met had breached the rights of four women organising a vigil in London for Sarah Everard last March. The police told the Reclaim These Streets organisers that they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if they went ahead with the vigil.

The vigil went ahead in…

1 April 2022News

MPs criticise police for 'misleading' enquiry

On 14 March, a young protester was cleared of riot but imprisoned for nine months for her part in ‘Kill the Bill’ protests outside a police station in Bristol on 21 March last year. Jasmine York (26) was convicted of arson because she had been filmed pushing a bin against a burning police car. She denied in court that she had been intending to add more fuel to the fire.

So far, 15 protesters have been sentenced to almost 60 years imprisonment for their part in the Bristol protest…

1 February 2022News

Government suffers 14 defeats in the Lords, though anti-Roma laws remain

A day of action was held on 15 January against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (due to be voted on by the house of lords two days later). Thousands protested in Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth and Sheffield.

Shami Chakrabarti, the Labour peer and former director of Liberty, told a rally in Parliament Square in London that the anti-protest provisions ‘represent the greatest attack on peaceful dissent in living…

1 February 2022News in Brief

The policing of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow led to many breaches of human rights. These included: kettling (surrounding protesters as a form of temporary imprisonment), excessive force, racial discrimination, intrusive surveillance and intimidation and harassment of locals, protesters and independent legal observers.

Those are the findings of a new report, Respect or Repression, compiled by Netpol and the Article 11 Trust. The report is based on evidence from over…

1 December 2021News

Increased penalties, new powers and new offences announced 

The UK government is planning to bring in several new laws against nonviolent protest, including a new offence of ‘going equipped’ to lock-on.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, announced in her speech to the Tory party conference on 5 October that she would:

increase the maximum penalty for disrupting a motorway make a new crime of interfering with key infrastructure ‘such as roads, railways and our free press’ and give the police and courts ‘new powers to deal with the small…

1 December 2018News in Brief

On 21 November, Scotland’s supreme civil court, the court of session, ruled that the UK and Scottish governments acted correctly in not extending the Undercover Policing Inquiry north of the border.

The judicial review was brought by Tilly Gifford, an activist who was herself targeted by the police for surveillance.

She said: ‘This is a massively disappointing decision by the court. Our evidence is clear and sound – there has been undercover policing in Scotland, and it…

1 December 2018News in Brief

On 3 October, in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the police failed to close down Kate Wilson’s human rights claim about secret political policing.

Kate Wilson is a social and environmental justice campaigner who had a two-year intimate sexual relationship with undercover police officer Mark Kennedy.

The IPT panel ordered the police to provide a fully-pleaded defence, supported by witness evidence, within three months.

These rulings were a response to…

1 August 2018News

London and Glasgow conferences mark 50 years since the formation of Britain's undercover political police squad

Dave Morris, one of the organisers of the ‘1968-2018: A Celebration of 50 years of Resistance, despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression’ conference at Conway Hall.photo: PN

The issue of undercover policing gained more attention in June because of a brave stand by Lush, the vegetarian/vegan cosmetics company. Then the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) and COPS Scotland held conferences in London and Glasgow on 7 July and 23 June, marking 50…

1 April 2018Feature

An internal manual for infiltrating activist groups, written by disgraced undercover police officer Andy Coles, has been made public by the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Andy Coles

On 19 March, the Undercover Policing Inquiry (led until July 2017 by Christopher Pitchford) posted the previously-secret Special Demonstration Squad Tradecraft Manual on its website (see accompanying article for extracts). The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was a section of Special Branch, the British political police, devoted to undercover operations, which existed between 1968 and 2008.…

1 April 2018News

Doreen Lawrence says chair turning hearing into 'inquiry cloaked in secrecy and anonymity'

People targeted by undercover police walk out of the Undercover Policing Inquiry at the high court in London on 21 March. Photo: Razbigor

Dramatic developments in the #spycops scandal unfolded on 21 March, when people targeted by undercover police, their lawyer and their supporters walked out of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) being held at the high court in London.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence backed the walk-out, saying that the chair of the inquiry, sir John Mitting, was…

1 April 2018News

Terrorism charges followed arrival of British undercover cop, documents reveal

On 18 March, French prosecutors finally admitted that they were relying on information supplied by British undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, in a case against the Tarnac group of French activists, in a trial due to close just after PN goes to press.

Kennedy, who used the name ‘Mark Stone’ while undercover, was sent to France to spy on the Tarnac group in June 2008 as an officer of the UK national public order intelligence unit (NPOIU), according to secret NPOIU documents…

1 August 2017News

Evidence to Pichford inquiry unlikely to be heard until mid-2019

The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing continues its frustrating, meandering path, bogged down in procedural issues.

The honest picture is that very little is coming out of the inquiry at the moment. To the alarm of many involved, we are being told that evidence is unlikely to be heard until mid-2019. That is five years after the inquiry was first announced, nine since undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was first exposed.

Much of the work done to date…

3 June 2017Feature

A PN worker remembers a narrow escape with a police infiltrator

16 March 1991: Undercover police officer Andy Coles (calling himself ‘Andy Davey’) tries to cover his face as he is photographed next to PN editor Milan Rai in a pub in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after an anti-war protest at a nearby US base. PHOTO: NOOR ADMANI

In 1991, I was living in London and involved in a nonviolent direct action affinity group called ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War). The group had started with direct action against the 1991 Gulf War, and then broadened…

1 June 2017Feature

PN's editor recalls his experience of a 'police triple-decker sandwich'

(L-R) David Polden, ‘Andy Davey’, Pippa Gibbins, Andrea Needham. PHOTO: NOOR ADMANI 

My clearest memory of ‘Andy Davey’, the undercover police officer Andy Coles, is a bizarre moment that I would now describe as a ‘police triple-decker sandwich’.

On 10 February 1991, Christian peace activist Chris Cole and I had broken into the US air force base at Fairford in Gloucestershire to protest against the B-52 raids carried out from the base. (The B-52s were bombing Iraq.)

We had…