Monitoring Network Keeps the Spotlight on Police Brutality

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>With the police adopting an increasingly confrontational and often violent approach to maintaining ‘order’ at public protests, the presence of trained legal observers, to collect information that may be helpful in later court proceedings and assist activists who are arrested or need medical attention, has become essential. Their focus is on the safety of demonstrators, without which the ‘right to protest’ is severely undermined if people are intimidated by the fear of police brutality from taking part in one of the vital elements of a democratic society.

At the G20 protests in April 2009, senior police officers sanctioned excessive force with an apparent expectation, based on previous experience, that the press and the public wouldn’t that much care about protesters. Taken aback by the spotlight placed upon them by the storm of complaints that followed, particularly the video evidence from members of the public that provided evidence of violent conduct, the police have been forced onto the defensive. So far this has led directly to the review of public order policing, Adapting to Protest, by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Dennis O’Connor and the extremely low-key policing of last summer’s Climate Camp in Blackheath. Whether the review will really change anything and how long the new approach to policing protests will last, however, is far from certain. Much will depend on maintaining a constant level of scrutiny on police tactics and conduct.

With little confidence in public bodies like the Independent Police Complaints Commission and to try and ensure that attention remains focused on the policing of protest, four experienced organisations have set up the Police Monitoring Network to train and collate information from ‘police monitors’ at demonstrations around the country.

Members of the network include the legal team from Climate Camp, FITwatch (who monitoring oppressive surveillance by police ‘forward intelligence’ teams), the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (who provide legal observers at demonstrations and grew out of the Trafalgar Square Defendants Campaign and Poll Tax Prisoners Support Group) and Newham Monitoring Project (an east London community organisation that has supported black communities to challenge police misconduct since 1980). They are joined by solicitors with expertise in civil actions against the police.

Police monitors will complement the role provided by legal observers in ensuring the safety of demonstrators but will focus specifically on scrutinising the actions of the police – whether, for example, police officers are covering identification numbers or psyching themselves up for violence and when police commanders are using tactics like kettling” that increase the likelihood of confrontation.

Training for police monitors, aimed initially at those who already have experience as legal observers, is planned for March 2010 and a website will be up and running shortly. For further information, contact FITwatch at defycops@yahoo.co.uk

4 thoughts on “Monitoring Network Keeps the Spotlight on Police Brutality

  1. me and my family have been trying to take action agaist the police we have tried the ipcc totall waste of time .we would never imagined how difficult the process to take any action agaist the police.so we would be intrested what your opinion would be .you have our sympothy about the way you have been treated over the thomillson case .looking forward to hearing from you /sicerly p Brunsdon

  2. I have confidence in making just about every application backed up and keeping tabs on each model, as opposed to solely monitoring naturally on the network system, and after that responding in a short enough time period for remediation.

  3. I have every smypathy for exercising their right to protest but all to often protests that are supposed to be in aid of ‘Palestinian Rights’ are nothing more than an excuse to peddle Anti-Semetic,Anti-America,Anti British and in general Anti-Western hatred on the streets.

    The lack of policing at such events and the wanton violence pro-Islamist protesters get away with beggars times.

    Sorry I am all for people having the right to protest in a peaceful manner even if i disagree with them but the protestors for Palestinian rights are often nothing of the sort and are more often than not organised by extreme terrorist suporting factions of extreme Islam.

    I and thosands like me in the UK feel such groups have got away with so much compare their treatment to the treatment the police give groups such as the EDL or any group protesting against militant Islam and the only thing the police dont gaive pro-muslim demonstrators is free champagne and caviar.

  4. Niklas the Police alllow the EDL to spit on Asian woman. WHen has any so called pro Islamist group done that in a protest? The police allow the EDL to run riot. . You are almost like a spoof of yourself, what yo uare saying is so silly. Learn to say stuff that has some resemblance to reality.

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