>Seasoned Fitwatchers won’t be surprised by the number of times the FIT appear in footage of brutal police violence from 1 April. People who were at the G8 in Scotland in 2005 will remember the numerous examples of FIT officers deciding that gaining intelligence was less fun that having a whack at demonstrators. Over the last four years the FIT have lost none of the appetite for violence, which has given a new meaning to their stated aim of establishing a rapport with protesters.
Footage obtained by the Guardian shows how they were consistently present when the police decided to kick things off. They were consistently present when random people were assaulted. They were consistent, again, in their utter disregard for the legal niceties of what they and their colleagues were up to.
This is the true face of the FIT: orchestrating an atmosphere in which the TSG are given free rein to thump people. The FIT played a core role in creating this atmosphere, through their intelligence briefings, through their behaviour on the day, and through the authority of those among their number who are public order tactical advisers. They need disorder to keep themselves in a job, and it certainly doesn’t do their part-time members’ pay packets any harm.
If the police are targeting ‘known troublemakers’ they’re doing a very good job of concealing it.
None of this, of course, is news to those who have suffered the malign attentions of the FIT in the past. What’s most interesting here is the scale to which the Met have lost the plot, where Bob Broadhurst, Ian Thomas, David Hartshorn and their coterie thought they could have a police riot in the City of London and no one would be any the wiser. We’re not talking about minor, bit-part players who cooked up a police riot. This is the cream of the public order cadre of the Met, the premier police force in the country – and further afield, if you believe police propaganda.
Today Sir Paul Stephenson announced that the Inspectorate of Constabulary would conduct a review of the public order policing of the G20 protest. This is surely a means by which he hopes to avoid a full-scale public inquiry. But as evidence mounts up of a deliberate and carefully planned police operation – which was guided from the GT control room in Lambeth – having one more police investigation into the police is completely unacceptable. There is no doubt that this was planned and executed from the top, and it is unimaginable that Stephenson was not kept in intimate contact with the events of 1 April.
Where does this leave the FIT? Frankly, less than a year ago they thought they had US on the run, having finally managed to secure a few convictions, in the process of being appealed. Now, they dare not even attend a protest about policing – the memorial march for Ian Tomlinson – with their blue tabards on. The entire public order policing structure of the Met’s left looking very fragile. The boot’s very much on the other foot.