Parliamentary scrutiny of political policing (via indymedia)
Mike Schwartz, a partner at London law firm Bindmans, said:
"The police have adopted mission creep. One of the symptoms is their misuse of the power of stop and search under the Terrorism Act. It is being misused because the police have the power to impose a blanket area, where any police officer can search anyone without reason for suspicion on the basis that a senior police officer has thought that there might be terrorist activity or terrorists operating in the area."
Also under the spotlight was Police intimidation and monitoring of journalists, refusal to recognizing press cards, and accusations of obstruction and assault. The committee said it was unacceptable that journalists had to resort to taking court action against officers interfering with their work.
London's Metropolitan Police Service excused their wide-ranging misuse of power by saying,
"We will always facilitate lawful protest and are committed to doing so but do have to minimize the disruption caused to others going about their lawful business".
The criticism follows a report was made to parliament last week into the abuse of police powers during the climate camp protests at Kingsnorth in 2008. The report and accompanying video documented systemic abuses of power including blanket stop and searches, arbitrary seizure of property, and a campaign of psychological intimidation which included sleep deprivation through helicopter overflying late into the night, mock night and dawn raids by tooled up riot police, and the infamous 'Flight of the Valkyries' incident.
David Howarth, Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary said,
“What happened at the Climate Camp was deeply disturbing and part of what seems to be a disturbing national trend. Political agendas have no place in policing."
Defending Kent police's handling of the Kingsnorth protest, Home Office minister Vernon Croaker had claimed that seventy officers had sustained injuries in clashes with protestors. However a Freedom of Information act request proved that the police chiefs had misled parliament as no officers had really been injured in clashes at all.
Lib Dem MP David Taylor told the Commons:
"We were told that [the police behavior] was justified because dozens of injuries were incurred. We have now found that those injuries were of a more prosaic origin—they were due to things such as insect stings and sunstroke. Unless the protesters are to be held responsible for wasps and the weather, are we not to conclude that the justification used at the time was wholly bogus and vacuous?"
Attempting some damage control after the damning report, the Kent Police chiefs have now voluntarily referred complaints about the actions of it's officers to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Even before the these two reports in Parliament, the extent of political policing had been further exposed by the Guardian article revealing that the police have been building up a database of thousands of political activists as well as harassing sympathetic journalists.
Meanwhile however, the police propaganda department has launched it's annual offensive against mass protester. They've flooded the mainstream media with pieces on the much hyped 'summer of rage' in which they began to lay the foundations to justify heavy handed suppression over the coming months.
Download the report and read the details for yourself: Committee Website
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