Arrests in the name of ‘intelligence gathering’.
Posted on April 8, 2011
An interesting document has just been published on the UK Parliament website: Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence on the policing of the TUC march on 26th March 2011
Now UK Uncut and others have already accused the police of politically motivated arrests, but up until now it’s a charge the police have been keen to deny. Reading through that transcript though, it’s pretty clear that there were other motivations behind the arrests at Fortnum and Mason beyond simply clamping down on any ‘criminal activity.’
Here’s Lynne Owens, QPM MA, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, giving her evidence as to what took place on the day:
“We did do, contrary to all the commentary, a fairly significant amount of pre-event work on known groups of people, and indeed a number of arrests were made as part of that process. Do we now need to build on that intelligence picture? Yes, we do. It is why the fact that we arrested as many people as we did is so important to us because that obviously gives us some really important intelligence opportunities. I think it is interesting, and perhaps somewhat ironic, that we find ourselves in this position where we are being asked questions about intelligence pictures where less than a month ago we were being asked about whether it was proportionate to deploy undercover officers in public protests and public order situations. So I think there is something for the police service about getting the balance right. We do need to improve the intelligence picture, but our ability to arrest over 200 people at the weekend gives us a very good starting point in terms of building that picture.”
Yes, isn’t it brilliant that the police were able to arrest that many people and nick their mobile phones off them? At least it saves them having to tap people’s phones or do any of the rest of the boring detective work that’s often involved in normal intelligence gathering.
Oh, and I loved her response to the question of whether any actual damage had been caused inside Fortnum and Mason:
“There was damage caused on the outside. I think you will have seen the wide coverage of it, and it is our current understanding that people consumed some of the goods that were in the store, so in other words theft.”
Seriously? People ‘consumed some of the goods that were in the store‘? Well can I suggest then that if Lynne Owens wants to arrest a truck load of people for consuming goods inside a food store she pop along to my local Tesco’s, where on any given day of the week numerous people can be found (usually toddlers, but hey, no one’s above the law, right?) wandering the aisles while chowing down on crisps, biscuits, and assorted other sundry items they’ve picked off the shelves.
Or is ‘consuming some of the goods‘ only a heinous criminal act worthy of being held in the cells for 24 hours if you’ve got some potentially useful intelligence on your mobile phone? Hmm, I wonder.
Of course none of this is nothing new it has to be said. I remember getting into a right old panic a few years ago when a friend of mine was arrested after chaining herself to a fence at RAF Lakenheath, and she had her mobile phone confiscated by the MoD. Oh how I sweated when I realised the MoD then had my name and number….
Hat-tip to @AdamRamsay who tweeted the link to the transcript this morning.
Frankly Cath, the MOD probably already have your name and number, and some bored ‘intelligence’ operative somewhere is almost certainly reading, it was estimated at one point that MI5 had files on a third of the population for such heinous offences as being a member of CID or a trade union. I always say I’d be very disappointed if I haven’t made the domestic extremist lists.
We live in interesting times. Speculation is that the powers that be are hoping to use the Wedding (and of course the ludicrous Rally against Debt) to crack down on ‘extremists’ and the right to protest altogether. I wouldn’t be surprised, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but a bit of black bloc action on both would be a very convenient excuse, let’s face it.
Oh and according to Private Eye, Fortnum and Mason (or one of their controlling trusts) made a substantial illegal donation to the Tories. Nuff said.
And yes, legally speaking, if you eat something before you’ve paid, it’s theft. But in that case why wasn’t anyone charged with theft?
Also – previously the Met’s “intelligence” consisted of reading facebook. Not very intelligent.
I know they’ve already got a file as big as something very big on me Polly, that’s why I stopped worrying in the end.
As for the Royal Wedding, Lynne Owens goes on to talk about that in the transcript:
“people consumed some of the goods that were in the store, so in other words theft.”
Maybe, just maybe they actually paid for the goods?
Hi Kiz 🙂
CND, not CID. Been thinking about the police too much. They were tapping phones (when everyone had landlines) wholesale in the eighties.
Lynne Owens should do stand up, she’s comedy gold….Stop and search how very predictable….
I can’t believe so many people took their normal phones on an action!
Talk about making it easy for the police, and they’ve all lost their phones for months now.
I’m feeling very smug as I took a £2.95 phone with just 5 numbers in so the police got very little information and I dont really care about losing it.
At least its a lesson for the future.
Lynne Owens wouldn’t know ‘intelligence’ if it bit her on the bum. She actually admits later on in that transcript that all their information was coming from social networking sites. And yet they allowed 140 people to get into Fortnum and Mason! An action that was being openly advertised and FLYERED on the day.
Well I reckon your toast Lynne. Bye de bye, you just became the fall person for this little lot.