FIT teams in plain clothes come out for UKuncut, as police go for breach of the peace arrests.

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PC Tony Molina, 1174, on duty at the UK occupation of Cardiff Topshop

The 41 ukuncut demonstrations taking place around the UK yesterday resulted in only nine arrests, in Manchester. It is interesting that the arrests were for breach of the peace. Given that Ukuncut protesters elsewhere were also threatened with BOP arrests, it seems there was a bit of a tendency to deal with occupiers using BOP powers, rather than aggravated trespass.

The police have a good track record in abusing breach of the peace powers. The situation in Scotland is very different, but in England and Wales the arrest is preventative, so doesn’t result in charges or convictions. But it does give police a handy tool to get people out of the way, and in the process, get their names and addresses.

The police should only arrest for breach of the peace when they reasonable believe there is an imminent risk of violence. This seems unlikely to have been the case in Manchester. Certainly when Cardiff occupiers of Topshop were threatened with arrest to prevent a BOP they were doing nothing more violent than sitting on the shop floor. The officer in charge didnt seem comfortable with it either. When a legal observer gave protesters a quick briefing on the law of BOP she threw her hands in the air, and was later reported to have moaned that she “couldn’t do anything because of those bloody legal observers..’

Public Order cop Richard Shatterly 2936 gathering intel on Cardiff UK uncut

As well as using dodgy reasons to try and arrest people, the police were also up to their old intelligence gathering tricks. While things were low key, and there was a general absence of obvious FIT cops and cameras, there were instances of systematic data gathering. Cardiff occupiers, for example, were photographed individually by uniformed and plain clothes cops using their Blackberry’s. One of them happily explained that the pictures were for the ‘intelligence log’.

There was no doubt this time about the identity of the plain clothes cops because strangely, they came and introduced themselves, giving both name and number. Their details are shown above. It’s not at all clear why they were being so candid. Perhaps they were being genuinely friendly and open. Or perhaps they identified themselves as police officers in order to get round the restrictive authorisations needed for covert surveillance. Anyway, we are happy to be able to put them on the blog.

Overall, it was good to see a general lack of in-yer-face FIT. But uk uncutters still need to keep half an eye on the cops with the Blackberrys.

18 thoughts on “FIT teams in plain clothes come out for UKuncut, as police go for breach of the peace arrests.

  1. There were also two arrests in Edinburgh on Saturday, which reports suggest were unnecessarily violent, and carried out as activists were already leaving a shop.

  2. perhaps the candid plain clothes officers are diversions, allowing less obvious plain clothes officers to operate

  3. I love legal observers.

    The police are so thick that a protester just having a little bit of knowledge of the law really scares them :)

  4. It is interesting that the police in this case didnt threaten to arrest for aggravated trespass. It’s possible that Topshop may have decided it didn’t want to prosecute.

    Perhaps they are a little worried about Phillip Green’s tax misdemeanours being brought up in court?

  5. Does anyone ever say on this site..” ok that demonstrator was out of order ,and deserved to be arrested ” or , “the damage that that demonstrator did was over the top” ..guys , if you are going to run discussion forums, at least make them balanced and promote debate.You may get more support then.The constant berating of the police and other official bodies, whilst showing your right to free speech , only goes to show that you are far too one sided in your arguements.Whilst it is clearly evident that the police have gone over the top in their heavy handedness on too many occasions , there are occasions where their work has been exemplary, ie the crowd control at the royal wedding , and the main TUC march

  6. @bluebottle
    Why are all your posts so one sided, so pro police? You constantly berate protesters even when their behaviour is exemplary.
    Are you suggesting that there was any chance the police would’ve batoned anyone at the Royal Wedding? As for the TUC march, the reason they were so well behaved at the main march was because most of them were sitting in their vans waiting for their pals to arrive and start smashing windows.
    If you want pro police chat go to Inspector Gadget!
    The stewards policed that march perfectly, as they probably would on most marches if the police weren’t so damned heavy handed.

  7. far from it Jo..I am fairly liberal in my views..had a look at the cop site and it is as blind as this one..they think everyone is against them in everything they do..

  8. I started writing a reply to bluebottle, but then realised that it just isn’t worth the effort. He’s suggesting we are ‘unreasonable’ and ‘one sided’, but he talks in very general terms, and doesn’t even bother to comment on the subject of the post. Possibly a cop, but in any event, not worth the bother.

    It’s probably more useful to reply to the first anon who wrote about the Edinburgh arrests. They do seem to have been particularly vengeful, given that the protesters had already agreed to police requests and left the store. Scotlands breach of the peace law (very different from breach of the peace in England and Wales) is horrendous, and in effect allows the police to arrest for almost anything.
    Would be interested to know how this case gets on in court. If anyone from the Edinburgh protest reads this blog – please let us know!

  9. Perhaps if the police stopped protecting spineless lying pricks like Nick Clegg, instead of kettling children in the freezing cold and putting them in hospital, attitudes might be a little different.

  10. @Really Fit
    Indeed, the Edinburgh arrests didn’t quite seem alright – particularly because another activist was arrested at his home four days after the protest. Like the other two people who got arrested, he was also charged with breach of the peace and banned from entering or attempting to enter Bhs.

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