Ideologische orde: Gaan we protesteren? Inlichtingenoperatie studentenprotesten ‘Gaan we stenen gooien?’ deel 2

Diverse studentendemonstraties van de afgelopen jaren werden in potentie als het plegen van een misdrijf beschouwd, zo blijkt uit documenten die J&J in handen kreeg via de Wob. Bescherming van de openbare orde komt steeds meer in het teken te staan van het verzamelen van inlichtingen zonder dat hierbij duidelijk wordt waarvoor, en wat er mee gebeurt. Burgemeesters, College van B&W’s en gemeenteraden weten niets van deze operaties af.

Van eind 2009 tot de zomer van 2011 demonstreerden studenten en docenten tegen de bezuinigingen in het onderwijs. In die periode werden diverse actieve studenten in Utrecht en Amsterdam benaderd door de inlichtingendienst.

In het eerdere artikel ‘Gaan we stenen gooien?’ worden deze benaderingen in verband gebracht met het persbericht van de operationele driehoek van Den Haag van 20 januari 2011. De avond voorafgaande de demonstratie meldde burgemeester Van Aartsen namelijk dat ‘de gemeente Den Haag aanwijzingen had dat radicalen de studentendemonstratie van vandaag willen verstoren’. De burgemeester zei dat de politie die aanwijzingen baseerde op informatie afkomstig van ‘open en gesloten bronnen’.

Tijdens de demonstratie op die dag vonden er enige schermutselingen plaats op het Plein voor het Tweede Kamergebouw en op het Malieveld. De NOS meldde dat volgens de driehoek de 27 verdachten (cijfers van de politie) leden zouden zijn van de linkse groep Anti-Fascistische Aktie (AFA). Van de 27 verdachten werden er nog op dezelfde dag 22 vrijgelaten.

Inlichtingenoperatie

Naast deze benaderingen bleek het politie-apparaat een inlichtingenoperatie op touw te hebben gezet waarbij niet alleen studenten, maar ook politieke partijen in de gaten werden gehouden. Namen van sprekers en ‘bekende’ actievoerders werden aan het dossier toegevoegd om de ‘radicale’ claim van burgemeester Van Aartsen te onderbouwen.

Al die inlichtingen bleken echter boterzacht, zoals Van Aartsen in de operationele driehoek van donderdag 20 januari 2011 moest toegeven: “De burgemeester geeft aan dat hij de verstrekte informatie van de AIVD onbevredigend vindt en schorst het driehoeksoverleg.” De burgemeester belde de baas van de AIVD die meldde dat hij “niet meer informatie kan verstrekken, anders dan dat het om personen van AFA zou gaan die naar Den Haag zouden willen komen.”

De chef van de AIVD zou tijdens het telefoongesprek met Van Aartsen hebben gezegd dat “Zij [antifascisten, red.] de neiging zullen hebben om zich te mengen onder de demonstranten en gewelddadig willen optreden.” Zodra het driehoeksoverleg werd hervat, deed een van de directeuren van politie Haaglanden er nog een schepje bovenop: “Daaruit (diverse open bronnen) blijkt dat meerdere personen zich mogelijk radicaal willen manifesteren.”

Eerst vond Van Aartsen de AIVD-informatie onbevredigend, wist de politie van niets en enkele minuten later was er sprake van dat de horden “van een vijftal groepen met een verschillende achtergrond, maar alle van linkse signatuur” de volgende dag de stad zouden bestormen. “Daaronder zijn anarchistische en antiglobalistische groeperingen met een extreem karakter”, voegde de politie er nog aan toe.

Scenario’s werden aangescherpt. Tijdens het driehoeksoverleg werd een persbericht opgesteld. ‘De Haagse Driehoek heeft aanwijzingen dat radicale groeperingen de studentendemonstratie van vrijdag willen aangrijpen om de openbare orde in Den Haag te verstoren.’ De bronnen van de Driehoek waren ‘gesloten en open bronnen.’ Dit suggereerde dat de inlichtingendienst over informanten beschikte en dat er actief op internet en in actiecentra was gezocht naar oproepen om te gaan rellen.

Uit de laatste alinea van het verslag van de driehoek van 20 januari 2011 blijkt echter dat er geen enkele aanwijzing was dat radicalen de demonstratie zouden verstoren: ‘De driehoek besluit voorts dat de burgemeester een noodbevel zal uitvaardigen, indien er concrete aanwijzingen zijn dat bepaalde personen die op de demonstratie afkomen de orde daadwerkelijk gaan verstoren en de politie voorts verwacht dat het uitvaardigen van een noodbevel ondersteunt bij het aan kunnen houden van dergelijke personen.’

Een opruiend persbericht van de gemeente Den Haag over ‘radicalen en een studentendemonstratie’, insinuaties van de AIVD, een politie die gespannen de demonstratie tegemoet trad en volgens de rechter weinig hoffelijk met de demonstranten omging en benaderingen van studenten door inlichtingendiensten in diverse steden. Wat ging er vooraf aan de demonstratie van 21 januari 2011 en wat speelde zich af in 2010 en 2011 rond de protesten van studenten en docenten tegen bezuinigingen in het onderwijs?

Anarcho-extremisten

Jaarlijks slaat de inlichtingendienst AIVD alarm over het gevaar voor de democratische rechtsorde door toedoen van Antifascistische Actie (AFA). In het jaarverslag over 2009 wordt gemeld dat ‘de dreiging uit de kleine kring extremisten rond Antifascistische Actie onverminderd hoog blijft. Die kern is in 2009 niet gegroeid, maar de aanhang die zij weet te genereren wel. De harde kern van AFA omvat enige tientallen personen.’

In 2010 maken de antifascisten deel van een groter contingent van activisten: ‘De AIVD heeft in 2010 geconstateerd dat sprake is van toenemende samenwerking tussen de verschillende linkse actiegroepen. Dat wil zeggen dat het onderscheid tussen de groeperingen die zich richten op antifascisme, antiglobalisering, milieu, dierenrechten en – in mindere mate – op asiel- en vreemdelingenbeleid, vervaagt.’

Het jaar daarop heeft de dienst een term gevonden voor deze multi-activisten: ‘anarcho-extremisten’. ‘Anarcho-extremisten zijn op vele terreinen en in diverse samenstellingen actief. Zo waren begin 2011 Amsterdamse anarchisten met AFA-Den Haag nauw betrokken bij de uit de hand gelopen studentendemonstratie in Den Haag’ (jaarverslag AIVD 2011).

In 2012 wordt het anarcho-extremisme direct gekoppeld aan een nieuwe ideologie, het vandalisme. ‘In 2012 zag de AIVD uit anarcho-extremistische hoek voornamelijk vandalisme bij diverse objecten in verband met hun ‘antikapitalistische’ strijd. Anarcho-extremisten hebben in 2012, in het kader van hun ‘internationale solidariteit’, diverse activiteiten ondernomen.’

Het noemen van de studentendemonstratie in Den Haag in het jaarverslag van 2011 past naadloos bij de term ‘multi-activisten’ dat voortkomt uit AFA, of in ieder geval de antifascisten. De dienst is ook trots op haar informatie-positie en geeft zichzelf een schouderklopje: ‘De AIVD heeft in het onderzoek naar antifascisme nauw contact gehad met de RID.’ [Regionale Inlichtingendienst, red.]

De activiteiten van de AIVD en RID resulteerden in het in goede banen leiden van de verschillende dreigende confrontaties tussen antifascisten en extreem-rechts (AIVD jaarverslag 2009). Niet alleen de RID wordt bij de strijd tegen de anarcho-extremisten betrokken, ook de wetenschap: ‘De AIVD heeft in 2010 gewerkt aan een grotere doelmatigheid door middel van systematische prioritering van onderzoeken, een betere samenwerking met enerzijds de Regionale Inlichtingendiensten en anderzijds buitenlandse diensten, en door vaker aansluiting te zoeken bij de wetenschap (academic outreach).’ (AIVD jaarverslag 2010)

Daarnaast werd het onderscheid tussen het verzamelen van informatie ten behoeve van het openbare orde- en inlichtingenbeleid ten aanzien van politiek actieve groeperingen steeds diffuser. Dreiging is het toverwoord in het project RID 2015: ‘De vorming van de nationale politie en de organisatorische veranderingen die hiervan het gevolg zijn hebben mede geleid tot een heroriëntatie op de samenwerking met de Regionale Inlichtingendiensten. Het project RID2015 moet ertoe leiden dat de inzet van de RID ten behoeve van het vroegtijdig onderkennen van opkomende dreigingen in de regio efficiënter wordt.’ (AIVD jaarverslag 2011).

Zoals verschillende studentenorganisaties zich voorbereidden op de landelijke demonstraties in Den Haag en Amsterdam, zo werkten de politie en de inlichtingendiensten aan het koppelen van studenten aan antifascisten of anarcho-extremisten. Regiopolitie Utrecht PL0910 2010295357-1: ‘Vandaag was er een studenten demonstratie op de Uithof tegen de bezuinigingsplannen op het onderwijs. De demonstratie begon om 12.30 uur voor het Minnaert gebouw op de Leuvenlaan. Vanaf daar liepen ongeveer een kleine 200 demonstranten, voornamelijk studenten en een handjevol linkse betogers (type anarchist/kraker), in optocht in de richting van de Heidelberglaan.’

Het feit dat die ‘linkse’ demonstranten misschien ook studenten hadden kunnen zijn, kwam niet bij de functionarissen op. Enkele agenten ‘hebben een auto gecontroleerd met linkse demonstranten, geen studenten. In de auto, een Volkswagen Golf met het kenteken … zaten drie mannen en de bestuurder was … geboren in 1978. Zij kwamen vanuit Rotterdam om te demonstreren en liepen met een groot stuk karton met daarop een tekst (PL0910 2010295357-1).’

Geen incidenten

In het hele land werden in 2010 betogingen georganiseerd. Zoals op 21 mei op het Amsterdamse Museumplein waar rond de 5.000 mensen op afkwamen. De manifestatie en mars verliepen rustig. Er waren enkele ‘tegen demonstranten’ die pleitten voor afschaffing van de basisbeurs voor studenten.

Hoewel de demonstratie door de Amsterdamse Driehoek benaderd werd met termen als ‘dreigingsanalyse’, ‘Conflict en Crisisbeheersing’ en ‘Capaciteitsmanagement bewaken en beveiligen’ verliep het protest gemoedelijk. Er bleek in Amsterdam nog geen sprake van het opzetten van een inlichtingen-operatie, maar dit was wel de periode waarin de eerste studenten werden benaderd om als informant voor de inlichtingendiensten te komen werken.

Met een inlichtingen-operatie was men in Den Haag al wel begonnen. Op 10 februari 2010 demonstreerde een groep MBO-studenten in de hofstad waar 100 personen aan deelnamen. Het Haagse Bureau Regionale Informatie (BRI) had een informatierapport over de organisatoren en deelnemers samengesteld dat niet openbaar werd gemaakt door de Haagse politie. Ook voor een demonstratie op 25 maart 2010 (400 deelnemers) werd een zogenoemd verstrekkingsrapport opgesteld door BRI Haaglanden. Ook dit rapport werd niet openbaar gemaakt.

In het plan van aanpak voor de ‘manifestatie comité SOS 25 maart 2010’ wordt verwezen naar een spontane blokkade van het ministerie van OC&W enkele dagen eerder: ‘Op donderdag 18 maart 2010 vond een spontane demonstratie plaats van ongeveer 50 studenten. […] Hierop besloten het paraat Peloton in te zetten. […] Er hebben zich bij deze demonstratie geen noemenswaardige incidenten voorgedaan.’ Of deze spontane actie een trigger is geweest voor de politie om meer inlichtingen te kunnen verzamelen, is niet duidelijk.

Eigenlijk is het vreemd. Al geruime tijd vonden er geen incidenten plaats bij protesten tegen de bezuinigingen. Ook niet op 18 maart 2010: ‘Ik verbalisant vroeg aan … of het om een aangemelde demonstratie ging. Hij verklaarde dat het om een niet aangemelde, maar spontane demonstratie ging. Vervolgens heeft collega … telefonisch contact opgenomen met bureau Conflict en Crisisbeheersing van politie Haaglanden, welke op haar beurt middels de directie van politie Haaglanden in overleg met de burgemeester trad. De Burgemeester besloot dat de demonstratie per direct beëindigd diende te worden. Tevens besloot de burgemeester dat er proces-verbaal moest worden aangezegd, terzake het niet hebben kennis gegeven van een demonstratie. Persoon verklaarde: ‘Dit is een spontane en vreedzame demonstratie, om aandacht te vragen voor de kwaliteit van het onderwijs en het behoud van studiefinanciering’ (PL1512 2010059606-1 donderdag 18 maart 2010 omstreeks 08.30 uur).’

De student kreeg een boete voor het uiten van zijn mening, omdat de burgemeester van Den Haag niet tijdig op de hoogte was gesteld. Dat is naast een enkele bezetting (vaak met toestemming van de schoolbesturen) de enige ‘zware overtreding’. Het aantal demonstraties was aanzienlijk, ook de opkomst, maar incidenten bleven dus uit. Op 29 november 2010 demonstreerden 1.500 studenten op het Plein in Den Haag, op 8 december 200 docenten. In Utrecht demonstreerden op 10 december 200 studenten, op 16 december 30. In Arnhem gingen 10 december 500 studenten de straat op, in Amsterdam 5.000.

Internet surveillance

Waarom er inlichtingen worden verzameld rondom het buitenparlementaire protest van studenten en docenten, wordt ook niet duidelijk. De regiopolitie Gelderland Midden schrijft in het proces verbaal PL0745 2010137777-1 over een demonstratie van de Wageningse Studenten Organisatie dat ‘de sfeer goed was en er geen incidenten waren.’ Een deel van het proces-verbaal wordt echter geweigerd op grond van ‘toezicht, controle en inspectie’ en ‘opsporing en vervolging’.

Volgens de Arnhemse politie is ‘het optreden van de politie erop gericht de demonstratie in goede banen te leiden en het handhaven van de openbare orde (brief primaire beslissing 6 februari 2012).’ Waarom dan informatie achterhouden over een gemoedelijk verlopen manifestatie? Ook het mutatierapport en het journaal/de mutaties van het protest in Amsterdam op 10 december 2010 wordt niet verstrekt.

En waarom worden in het mutatierapport over een demonstratie in Nijmegen de namen van de sprekers vermeld? ‘Op vrijdag 10 december 2010 omstreeks 13:30 uur heeft er een demonstratie plaatsgevonden door het centrum van Nijmegen. De studenten zijn gestart op het stationsplein te Nijmegen. … [weg gelakt] heeft het openingswoord gedaan. Hierop volgend heeft meneer … (weg gelakt) gesproken (PL081A 2010123893-1).’

Bij protesten en maatschappelijke onrust kijkt de overheid steeds vaker naar ontwikkelingen op het internet, met name sociale media. In de loop van 2010 wordt ook dit een belangrijke informatiebron in verband met de studentenprotesten. Dit gaat soms fout waardoor de politie een verkeerde inschatting maakt van de omvang van een manifestatie.

Op 29 november 2010 komt de operationele Driehoek van Den Haag samen en concludeert: ‘Visser (van politie Haaglanden) dat door oproepen op het internet het aantal verwachte deelnemers aan de demonstratie aan de LSVB-SP en Studentenraad TU aanzienlijk is toegenomen: van oorspronkelijk 50 naar ruim 1000.’ Deze conclusie is vreemd aangezien er in een eerder stadium overleg is geweest met de organisatoren.

Ook bij andere demonstraties worden sociale media en het internet afgestruind voor aanvullende informatie. In combinatie met een vooringenomen inlichtingen- en politie-apparaat kan het volgende bericht op het Forum voor de Vrijheid (FvdV) de trigger zijn geweest voor het persbericht van de Burgemeester van Den Haag om radicalen en studenten aan elkaar te verbinden. ‘Laatste nieuws: de AFA komt ook, om te rellen’, bericht het forum op 20 januari 2011 om 16:07 uur. (http://forum-voor-de-vrijheid.nl/vrijheid/archive/index.php/t-24493.html)

Drie dagen later stellen Anarchistische Groep Nijmegen en Anti-Fascistische Actie in een gezamenlijk persbericht dat zij niet hebben opgeroepen om geweld te gebruiken bij de demonstratie tegen de bezuinigingen op het hoger onderwijs van 21 januari 2011 in Den Haag. Het persbericht kwam echter te laat om de spin van de operationele Driehoek (politie, justitie en openbaar bestuur) van Den Haag nog in het voordeel van de studentendemonstratie te laten draaien.

Politiek en anarcho-extremisme

De scheiding tussen het ‘handhaven van de openbare orde’ en ‘inlichtingen inzamelen in verband met de bescherming van de democratische rechtsorde’ is flinterdun. RID Gelderland Zuid maakte bijvoorbeeld een verstrekkingsrapport openbare orde op. Het rapport met het nummer 0018762 en betrouwbaarheidscode informatie B3 (meestal betrouwbaar, gehoord/bevestigd) gaat over een actieweek met een informatiemarkt, een publiciteitsact, een discussie- en filmavond en een menselijke ketting. Nu kan de openbare orde in het geding zijn geweest, maar om studentenprotest tegen bezuinigingen in het onderwijs meteen op te schalen naar een risicowedstrijd in het betaald voetbal is nogal overdreven. Een publiciteitsactie van Red Bull belandt ook niet op het bord van de RID.

Een jaar later, eind januari 2011 gebeurt eigenlijk hetzelfde in Den Haag. Nu met meer consequenties voor enkele studenten dan in februari 2010 in Nijmegen. Vanaf begin januari 2011 krijgt de Haagse politie vanuit heel Nederland informatierapporten over studenten die willen deelnemen aan de manifestatie op het Malieveld op 21 januari 2011.

Regiopolitie Twente RID rapportnummer 2011…, betrouwbaarheidscode A (toelichting code Waar): ‘In de maand januari 2011 werd informatie ontvangen dat: Er op 21 januari ongeveer 18000 studenten naar Den Haag zullen vertrekken om deel te nemen aan de studentendemonstratie. Er vanuit Twente ongeveer 1500 studenten zullen vertrekken.’

Politie Gelderland Zuid verstrekkingsrapport 19893, betrouwbaarheidscode informatie A: ‘In verband met de studentenmanifestatie die gehouden wordt op 21 januari 2011 te Den Haag is bij de RID Gelderland-Zuid de navolgende informatie binnengekomen. In het totaal hebben 500 studenten van de Radboud Universiteit zich aangemeld voor het busvervoer naar genoemde manifestatie. Er zullen ook nog studenten reizen met een OV-kaart, deze zijn niet in het aantal opgenomen. Vanaf HAN (Hogeschool Arnhem/Nijmegen) zullen ook bussen met studenten vertrekken naar Den Haag. Op dit moment zijn er bij de RID nog geen aantallen bekend.’

Opvallend is dat de RID ook politieke partijen in de gaten houdt en meldt dat ‘door een Nijmeegse politieke partij ook een busregeling naar Den Haag wordt aangeboden.’ Waarom de RID dit in een verstrekkingsrapport opneemt, is onduidelijk.

Al eerder vielen politiek getinte opmerkingen in de documenten rond het studentenprotest op. De Amsterdamse politie schreef in het draaiboek van de demonstratie op 21 mei 2010 dat ‘de LSVb zijn achterban daarom inmiddels heeft opgeroepen niet op de PvdA te stemmen. Door de LSVb wordt dit ontkend; dit geluid is echter wel veelvuldig in de media te horen.’ De PvdA had in de periode voorafgaande de demonstratie aangegeven de bezuinigingen in het onderwijs van het kabinet Rutte 1 te zullen steunen. Waarom de politie het stemadvies van het LSVb in het draaiboek opneemt is onduidelijk.

Ditzelfde geldt voor de opmerkingen over de SP in de stukken met betrekking tot de demonstratie van 21 januari 2011. In het algemene draaiboek van de demonstratie van politie Haaglanden staat vermeld: ‘Binnen deze groep deelnemers is er de mogelijke deelname aan de manifestatie van diverse politieke partijen. … [weg gelakt] deze politieke partij heeft aangegeven bij de LSVb om de manifestatie te ondersteunen. De SP staat bekend als zeer aktie bereid en steunt daarin diverse demonstranten.’

Binnen de operationele driehoek van Den Haag van 19 januari 2011 wordt opgemerkt dat: ‘De SP wel de gelegenheid zal krijgen om in de demonstratie te participeren, maar niet de kans krijgt om de demonstratie ‘over te nemen’, zoals in het verleden nog wel eens gebeurde.’ Wie deze laatste opmerking heeft gemaakt, is onduidelijk. Het zal iemand van de politie of van de bestuursdienst van de gemeente zijn geweest. Opnieuw is onduidelijk waarom ambtenaren van het bevoegd gezag opmerkingen over bepaalde politieke partijen menen te moeten maken.

Opmaat

Na een jaar van protesten die allemaal zeer gemoedelijk zijn verlopen, lijkt de gemeente Den Haag het roer om te gooien. Er moet een stevig politie-apparaat worden neergezet en het liefst wil de driehoek de protesten uitsluitend op het Malieveld toestaan. Het LSVb gaat daarmee akkoord, maar de Haagse Studentenvakbond wil door de stad lopen om haar mening te kunnen uiten.

Dat Den Haag wil opschalen naar ‘oorlogssterkte’ blijkt uit een bijstandsaanvraag aan de commissaris van de Koningin van Zuid-Holland. De driehoek wil een peloton KMar (Koninklijke Marechaussee, militaire politie) inzetten op 21 januari 2011. De commissaris van de Koningin, Jan Franssen, wijst de aanvraag af: ‘Gelet op het feit dat de gevraagde bijstand kan worden geleverd door regiopolitiekorps(en) binnen de eigen provincie, zie ik geen aanleiding voor bijstandsverlening door de Kmar. Ten aanzien van de geldende wet- en regelgeving kan ik daarom geen akkoord geven op bijstandsverlening door de Kmar.’

Militaire politie op betogende studenten afsturen, de toon lijkt gezet. Korpschef Van Essen is verbolgen, burgemeester Van Aartsen geeft geen tegengas en ook het openbaar ministerie blijft stil. Van Essen is van oordeel dat ‘het kabinetsbeleid gericht is op een veel ruimere inzet van de KMar dan de Politiewet mogelijk maakt.’ De volgende keer zal hij dan ook opnieuw om bijstand van de KMar vragen.

De toon van de driehoek lijkt niet in relatie te staan met het relaxte studentenprotest tegen de bezuinigingen in 2010, maar met het profiel dat vooral de politie van de demonstranten heeft samengesteld. In een brief van 6 januari 2011 aan de leden van de operationele driehoek schrijft directeur opsporing en informatie over 21 januari dat ‘een demonstratieve tocht door de stad de interventiemogelijkheden door de politie bemoeilijkt.’ Bij deze opmerking in het kader van de risico inschatting maakt zij onderscheid tussen burgers en demonstranten: ‘De noodzaak bij een eventueel politieoptreden de demonstranten te scheiden van goedwillende burgers en evenementen.’

‘Goedwillende burger’ en ‘demonstranten’ lijken binnen het politiejargon niet te combineren. De demonstranten zijn op het moment van schrijven van deze brief nog geen anarcho-extremisten, maar de opschaling en de wijze van presentatie van het ‘probleem’ demonstranten, lijken wel een opmaat voor het radicale persbericht van 20 januari 2011.

In de dagen voorafgaande de demonstratie van vrijdag 21 januari komt de driehoek dagelijks bij elkaar. De samenwerking met het LSVb, de studentenvakbond die een statisch protest wil, lijkt goed. ‘… [weg gelakt] geeft aan dat de politie rond deze demonstratie actief gebruik maakt van de sociale media in nauwe samenwerking met de organisaties (operationele driehoek 19 januari 2011).’ Over de Haagse studentenvakbond is men minder te spreken: ‘… [weg gelakt] heeft bij deze demonstratie enige zorg bij het gebrek aan ervaring bij de organisatie. Het grootste risico rond deze tocht zit in het deel waarbij men in de buurt van de Malietoren komt.’ En de eerste tekenen van rellen die gaan plaatsvinden op vrijdag worden ingeluid: ‘… [weg gelakt] laat weten dat recente informatie binnen is gekomen, dat mogelijk Rotterdamse hooligans van plan zijn om bij de demonstratie aan te sluiten om zo de confrontatie met de politie aan te kunnen gaan. … [weg gelakt] meldt dat de voetbal eenheden bezig zijn om deze informatie te verifiëren …’

Opvallend aan de bewering dat er hooligans onderweg zouden zijn naar Den Haag, is dat het in de verdere berichtgeving niet meer terugkomt. De Haagse politie weigert wel de verstrekkingsrapporten van 17, 19 en 24 januari 2011 openbaar te maken, maar binnen zowel de mediacommunicatie als de operationele driehoek komt het onderwerp hooligans slechts één keer ter sprake. Was de komst van de Feyenoord-supporters op dezelfde manier aangekondigd als de komst van AFA? In de trant van: ‘Laatste nieuws: SCF komt ook!’ Ergens op Facebook of een forum post iemand deze tekst, kennelijk om te stoken. De Rotterdamse hooligans komen ook niet terug, en of het bericht geverifieerd is, wordt niet duidelijk uit de stukken.

Radicalen komen

In het ‘algemeen SGBO (Staf Grootschalig Bijzonder Optreden) draaiboek’ van de manifestatie lijken de radicalen nog geen plek te hebben gekregen. Alleen de SP wordt uitdrukkelijk vermeld. De beschrijving van de stand van zaken rond de protesten tegen de bezuinigingen lijkt ontspannen: ‘Na een serie kleine studentendemonstraties tegen de bezuinigingen in het onderwijs slaan diverse grote studentenorganisaties de handen ineen om een grote landelijke demonstratie te houden.’

Er wordt een demonstratie van rond de 15.000 studenten verwacht, waarvan het zwaartepunt vooral op het Malieveld zal komen te liggen. Een fluitje van een cent zou je zeggen, voor een gemeente die stelselmatig beweert jaarlijks duizenden demonstraties in goede banen te leiden. In het SGBO-draaiboek wordt gezinspeeld op mogelijke rellen: ‘Ondanks de uitgebreide voorbereidingen in samenspraak met de organisatoren, valt een kans op verstoringen van de openbare orde, intimidaties, kans op fysiek letsel en materiële schade voor publieke eigendommen niet uit te sluiten. Een confrontatie met de politie valt dan ook niet uit te sluiten.’

Waarom men geweld verwacht, wordt niet duidelijk. De Rotterdamse hooligans lijken niet te komen, van anarcho-extremisten is geen sprake in het draaiboek… nee, louter protesterende studenten. Draaiboeken worden gekenmerkt door een standaard-opzet die per evenement wordt ingevuld. Het is dan ook niet onlogisch dat specifieke calamiteiten niet in het draaiboek zijn verwerkt. Als er inlichtingen zijn afkomstig van inlichtingendienst die wijzen op verstoringen van de openbare orde, worden die opgenomen in het draaiboek. De verschillende commandanten kunnen daarop anticiperen. Bij de scenario’s zal duidelijk worden vermeld waar verkennings- en arrestatie-eenheden op moeten letten. Hoewel diverse passages zijn weg gelakt, straalt het draaiboek een sfeer uit van een nog nader te volgen relaxte demonstratie.

Onder de oppervlakte borrelt er echter iets. De Haagse politie lijkt een hekel te hebben aan demonstrerende studenten (‘het zijn geen goedwillende burgers’), men wilde aanvankelijk het liefst de militaire politie inzetten en bij de inlichtingen lijkt de focus te zijn gericht op ‘linkse betogers (type anarchist/kraker)’, al dan niet georganiseerd. Binnen deze context meldt de AIVD dat leden van AFA aan de demonstratie zullen deelnemen. Of deze informatie te herleiden valt aan de posting op het Forum voor de Vrijheid is niet langer na te gaan, maar de bewering is niet erg substantieel, gelijk die over de deelname van hooligans.

‘De burgemeester geeft aan dat hij de verstrekte informatie van de AIVD onbevredigend vindt en schorst het driehoeksoverleg”’, vermeldt het verslag van de operationele driehoek van 20 januari 2011. Zodra de vergadering wordt voortgezet stelt de politie dat ‘uit (diverse open bronnen) blijkt dat meerdere personen zich mogelijk radicaal willen manifesteren.’ Tijdens dit overleg wordt in alle haast een persbericht in elkaar gezet. ‘De Haagse driehoek heeft aanwijzingen dat radicale groeperingen de studentendemonstratie van vrijdag willen aangrijpen om de openbare orde in Den Haag te verstoren door zich te mengen tussen de demonstranten en de confrontatie te zoeken.’ Een noodbevel wordt uitgevaardigd, de Haagse politie staat op scherp. De sfeer wordt dusdanig opgestookt dat het wachten is op rellen.

Mandarijnen

Die rel komt er ook, zowel op Het Plein voor de Tweede Kamer en bij het ministerie van OC&W. De politie beweert dat er met van alles is gegooid en dat daarbij drie politiefunctionarissen gewond zijn geraakt. Er wordt een foto verspreid van een gat in het wegdek, maar of daar stenen uit zijn verwijderd, blijft onduidelijk.

Een van de arrestanten verklaart: ‘”Ik zag dat deze jongens ineens de stenen uit de straat gingen halen. Ik vond dat geen goed idee. […] Mijn vrienden en ik en nog een aantal andere studenten liepen naar de jongens toe en zeiden dat zij niet de stenen moesten pakken. […] Ik zag dat de jongens de stenen los lieten (PL1551 2011015630-4)”.’ Een andere demonstrant beschrijft hetzelfde tafereel: “‘Ik zag dat er mensen toen stenen uit de straat haalden om deze te gaan gooien. We hebben toen een jongen daar nog voor belet. Daarna kwamen de politiepaarden eraan en toen zijn we met z’n allen terug gelopen (PL1532 2011015619-4)”.’

Vervolgens beweert de politie dat agenten werden belaagd met vuurwerk. Dat er vuurwerk is gegooid, is duidelijk. Een politiefunctionaris hierover: ‘”Ik verbalisant hoorde een harde knal die afkomstig was van vuurwerk. Ik verbalisant ben gaan zoeken naar degene die vuurwerk aan het gooien waren. […] Ik verbalisant zag dat een persoon het voorwerp richting de collega’s van de Mobiele Eenheid gooide (PL1561 2011015692-4)”.’ Of het vuurwerk echter de politie of demonstranten heeft geraakt, is niet duidelijk.

Een andere agent over het vuurwerk: ‘”Wij zagen dat het voorwerp gelijkende op een langwerpig voorwerp door de lucht vloog. Wij zagen dat het voorwerp tussen de rennende demonstranten viel (PL1512 2011015692-2)”.’ Wat is er dan wel gegooid? Enkele demonstranten gooiden met etenswaar. ‘”Werd de verdachte tijdens de studentendemo aangehouden terzake het gooien van eieren naar de Mobiele Eenheid. Werd besloten de verdachte hiervoor een mini pv te geven terzake baldadigheid (PL1551 2011015667-1)”.’

De eieren komen terug in het politiejournaal van 21 januari 2011: ‘”Politie bij het Mauritshuis worden bekogeld met eieren”.’ En een lunchpakket: ‘”Vervolgens voerde de ME een charge uit. Dus iedereen in paniek en rende door elkaar heen. Dus toen heb ik uit baldadigheid een boterham uit mijn tas gepakt en die heb ik toen in de richting van de ME gegooid (PL1532 2011015653-4)”.’ En ten slotte een serie mandarijnen. De vrienden die de stenengooiers tegenhielden, hebben elk een mandarijn naar de politie gegooid. ‘”Ja, mandarijnen, een per persoon, we waren met z’n drieën. Om de bus te besmeuren (PL1532 2011015619-4)”.’ Een agent bevestigt het smijten met fruit: ‘”Ik zag dat deze mandarijn op ongeveer een halve meter achter de ME hard op de grond terecht kwam (PL1551 2011015630-5)”.’

Waarom gooien mensen die protesteren mandarijnen, eieren, vuurwerk, boterhammen en plastic flessen naar de Mobiele Eenheid? Wie de beelden bekijkt van de charges van de ME, is getuige van opgefokte agenten, klaar om welke student dan ook te slaan. Over het gooien van etenswaar wordt weinig in de stukken van de Haagse politie vermeld. In Amsterdam lijkt de mate waarin met fruit en groenten wordt gesmeten van belang voor het ingrijpen. ‘Het gooien van eieren, tomaten, appels naar objecten en gebouwen kan, wanneer dit op grotere schaal plaatsvindt, kunnen leiden tot aanhouding’, vermeldt het operationele draaiboek van de demonstratie van 21 mei 2010 van de Amsterdamse politie.

De spanning in Den Haag bleek dusdanig groot dat een paar mandarijnen genoeg was om over te gaan tot charges. De rechter oordeelde achteraf dat het optreden van de politie tijdens de demonstratie van 21 januari in Den Haag bepaald niet de schoonheidsprijs verdiende. De Amsterdamse politie ging een stap verder. Hier werd een directe link gelegd tussen de heersende onvrede onder de studenten en het optreden van de politie. ‘Naar aanleiding van de demonstratie in Den Haag (21 januari 2011) is de sfeer onder een deel van de studenten grimmiger geworden. Het optreden van de politie en de houding van het kabinet met betrekking tot de studiefinanciering ligt hieraan ten grondslag (Deeldraaiboek demonstratie 4 februari 2011).’

AFA-sympathisant

De self fulfilling prophecy van de Haagse driehoek werd op 21 januari 2011 bewaarheid. De burgemeester had vooraf beweerd dat radicalen zich zouden mengen onder de demonstranten om de openbare orde te verstoren. De inlichtingendienst had beweerd dat het om leden van AFA zou gaan. De politie sprak ‘van een vijftal groepen met een verschillende achtergrond, maar alle van linkse signatuur. Daaronder zijn anarchistische en anti-globalistische groeperingen met een extreem karakter’, meldde de politie.

De anarcho-extremisten hadden het gemunt op het vernietigen van de hofstad, zo leek het wel, maar afgezien van wat eieren, mandarijnen, boterhammen, een enkel flesje en vuurwerk dat tussen de demonstranten terecht kwam, bleef het rustig. Alle arrestanten bleken studenten. Hoe zat het dan met die anarcho-extremisten en AFA leden?

Tussen de processen-verbaal bevindt zich het verhaal van aanhouding van een jongeman door stillen. Hij werd aanvankelijk als minderjarig behandeld, maar bleek dat nét niet meer te zijn. De politie beweert dat hij agenten heeft geslagen, maar de verklaringen van de diverse betrokken functionarissen zijn dusdanig verwarrend dat daarbij vraagtekens moeten worden gezet. Iedereen, inclusief verdachte, zijn het er over eens dat hij een vriend die werd gearresteerd te hulp is geschoten. Hij kreeg daarbij flinke klappen van diverse agenten.

In het verhaal van deze jongeman komt AFA ter sprake. ‘”U vraagt mij wat ik vervolgens deed. Ik heb gelijk […] (zijn vriend) bij zijn middel gegrepen, om hem los te kunnen trekken van die mannen. U vraagt mij waarom ik zo reageerde. Ik dacht dat die onbekende mannen neonazi’s waren en met hen heb ik geen goede verstandhouding. Ik ben namelijk een AFA-sympathisant. U vraagt mij of ik heb gehoord dat die onbekende mannen zich kenbaar maakten als politie zijnde. Nee, dat heb ik niet gehoord en ik had dat ook niet kunnen weten (PL1561 2011015672-6)”.’

De agenten in burger die de jongeman voor neonazi’s aanzag, waren leden van een arrestatie-eenheid. Het enige gearresteerde AFA-lid, die volgens de Haagse driehoek de orde zou komen verstoren, probeerde slechts de aanhouding van een vriend te voorkomen. De participerende radicalen van 21 januari in Den Haag lijken niet onder de demonstranten te moeten worden gezocht, maar in kringen van de politie en de Driehoek.

Echter, na afloop van de demonstratie blijkt de deelname van AFA-sympathisanten een vaststaand feit te zijn geworden. ‘Ook het feit dat de driehoek koos voor een persbericht vooraf over de mogelijke komst van radicalen, is naar de mening van de korpschef een goede geweest’, vermeldt het verslag van de operationele driehoek van 24 januari 2011. ‘Bij de protesttocht van de studenten van de Haagse Hogeschool van het Johanna Westerdijkplein naar het Malieveld, bleek de staart door een groep gevormd, welke in gedrag en uiterlijke kenmerken, sterk afweek van de Haagse Hogeschool studenten’, aldus het informatierapport van Bureau Regionale Informatie 24 januari 2011. Dit rapport werd opgesteld in het kader van de evaluatie van het politieoptreden en omdat er vragen zijn gesteld in de gemeenteraad over het politiegeweld.

In het evaluatierapport worden feiten geconstateerd die in het mutatierapport PL1581 2011015635-1 van vier verbalisanten die de demonstratie van de Haagse studentenvakbond hebben begeleid niet voor komen. De opstellers reppen over veel stokken, ‘soms metalen pijpen’, die de agenten in beslag hebben genomen voordat de demonstratie op gang kwam. De functionarissen schrijven dat ‘voorkomen moest worden dat lieden linksaf naar OCW zouden afbuigen.’ Deze opmerking wordt gevolgd door ‘geen bijzonderheden.’

Gedurende de betoging bleek in de praktijk slechts één persoon staande te zijn gehouden met opruiende dvd’s in zijn rugzak. Alle overige personen van deze groep studenten die werden aangesproken (in totaal vier) of die een proces-verbaal hebben gekregen, bevonden zich al op het Malieveld. Van een groep die ‘niet de uiterlijke kenmerken van studenten hadden’ is in de rapportage van de begeleidende agenten geen sprake.

Radicale studenten of studentikoze radicalen?

De radicalen blijken echter al binnen de studentenmassa’s te zijn geïnfiltreerd. Vanaf 21 januari staat de politie op scherp en worden mensen die in het profiel van ‘links’, ‘anarchist’ of ‘kraker’ passen vermeld als zijnde onderdeel uitmakend van het studentenprotest. ‘Opvallend was dat er nagenoeg geen studenten aanwezig waren. Betroffen veelal krakers figuren onder andere … (weg gelakt) gespot (PL0910 2011034542-1, 9 februari 2011 studentenprotestutrecht.nl).’

Op 4 februari 2011 wil een groep studenten een lawaaidemonstratie houden in Amsterdam. Zij willen in de binnenstad diverse gebouwen van de Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) bezoeken om daarmee hun ongenoegen te uiten over de bezuinigingen in het onderwijs. Tijdens het SGBO-overleg voorafgaande de demonstratie meldt de inlichtingendienst van de politie: ‘Op dit moment is er niet meer informatie bekend over de demonstratie. Er zijn wel aanwijzingen dat er zich radicaliserende personen in de groep studenten zullen bevinden, maar dat is nog niet zeker.’

In het kader van de risicoanalyse wordt gesteld dat er ‘nog niets bekend is over het mogelijk aansluiten van krakers bij de demonstratie.’ Wel zijn er ‘aanwijzingen dat er radicaliserende personen onder de studenten bevinden’, maar niets is zeker en van aansluiting van krakers is niets bekend. Een dag eerder werd bij het subdriehoek overleg in Amsterdam geconstateerd dat ‘de sfeer bij studentendemonstraties steeds grimmiger wordt.’ Welke demonstraties, naast die van 21 januari in Den Haag, dit dan zijn geweest, wordt niet duidelijk gemaakt.

Binnen de SGBO-studentendemo wordt de sfeer nog eens onderstreept: ‘De sfeer onder de studenten is grimmiger geworden. Dit naar aanleiding van het politieoptreden in Den Haag en het standpunt van het kabinet. Er dient rekening mee gehouden te worden dat zich onder de demonstranten enkele tientallen zullen bevinden die het geweld niet schuwen.’ Gezien de hoeveelheid documenten zou je verwachten dat de politie rekent op duizenden demonstranten, maar de schattingen lopen uiteen tussen 100 en 250 studenten. In het deeldraaiboek ordehandhaving wordt echter een directe link met 21 januari gelegd: ‘Eerdere soortgelijke demonstratie in Den Haag leidde tot openbare orde problemen waarbij 27 personen zijn aangehouden (Historie).’

Een dag voorafgaande de demonstratie doet de chef informatie (CHIN) er nog een schepje bovenop: ‘Er is info dat binnen het Comité SOS de mening is dat een confrontatie met de ME ook media aandacht kan geven, dus mogelijk confrontatie niet echt als negatief wordt gezien (03-02-11 16:36 chef informatie).’

Verkenningseenheden (Victor00) verspreiden zich op de dag van de demonstratie over de stad. Bij het Centraal Station moeten ze op groepen studenten letten, bij kraakpanden in het oosten en westen van de stad op activiteiten en bij de verzamelplek op de ‘radicalen’. ‘Victor00: Binnengasthuisstraat groepje van 15 studenten met enkele krakers (vier krakers). Dragen borden met tekst ‘wij gaan de crisis niet betalen’ en ‘oprutte’ (04-02-11 14:43 distributie centrum).’

Diverse personen worden specifiek in de gaten gehouden. Dit zijn naar alle waarschijnlijkheid de studerende ‘vier krakers’. ‘Om 14:46 meldt Victor00: … [weg gelakt] en … [gelakt] gezien … [gelakt] op Binnengasthuisterrein … [gelakt] is druk aan het bellen. Signalement volgt.’ Blijkbaar werd er getwijfeld: ‘Victor00: … [gelakt] is 100% positief herkend. Victor00: Bij … [gelakt] fon.) loopt … [gelakt] (04-02-11 15:10).’ De ‘radicalen’ worden scherp in de gaten gehouden, maar op basis waarvan wordt volstrekt niet duidelijk.

In een item van Pownews beklaagt de verslaggever zich over de belabberde opkomst. Zelfs hem wordt geen duimbreed in de weggelegd om mensen te interviewen. De verkenningseenheden volgen de ‘radicalen’ tot het eind van de demonstratie. ‘Victor00 om 16:11: Stuk of 20 personen, plus … [gelakt] gaat UVA-gebouw aan het Binnengasthuisterrein in, niet zijnde het Crea Café. Victor00 om 16:15: … [gelakt] is het pand weer uit samen met een ander persoon … [gelakt].’

De Haagse politie geloofde heilig in de gecreëerde radicale illusie. In een brief van 17 maart 2011 over de aankondiging van een demonstratie op 25 maart 2011 door het platform ‘Onderwijs is een recht’ wordt impliciet de relatie met de schermutselingen van 21 januari gelegd. ‘Het vorenstaande zou erop kunnen duiden dat deze demonstratie wordt georganiseerd vanuit links activistische organisaties, die mogelijk uit zijn op openbare orde verstoringen.’ Tijdens het Driehoeksoverleg van 23 maart 2011 voegt de politie daaraan toe: ‘Voorts is de organisator voornemens om een geluidswagen mee te nemen. Deze zelfde wagen is eerder door krakers gebruikt tijdens een demonstratie.’

Dat de politie de studenten stigmatiseert door hen als ‘radicalen’ te omschrijven, is vreemd, want men geeft ook toe dat er goede afspraken zijn gemaakt met de organisatoren. Een dag voorafgaande de demonstratie werd er een spandoek opgehangen in de Hofvijver. De politie wist meteen wie het gedaan had: ‘Op de Lange Vijverberg twee demonstrant uitziende personen aangesproken die verklaarden er niks mee te maken te hebben (PL1512 2011061722-1).’

Een dag later, na afloop van de demonstratie in Den Haag, schreef de directeur opsporing en informatie van de politie Haaglanden: ‘Op of omstreeks woensdag 9 maart 2011 kwam een verzoek binnen tot het houden van een demonstratie onder de noemer ‘Onderwijs is een recht’. De aanvraagster is gelieerd aan de krakerscene in Utrecht. In uw vergadering heeft u daarop besloten om naar aanleiding van deze informatie extra politiemaatregelen te nemen en een SGBO in te stellen. Er zijn geen verdachten aangehouden. Tijdens de demonstratie bleek een groot aantal deelnemers gelieerd is aan de krakersbeweging in den lande.’

Voorafgaande deze demonstratie, waaraan in totaal 150 studenten deelnamen, werd door het Bureau Regionale Informatie een informatierapport en een dreigingsinschatting opgesteld. Informatie van de RID Utrecht werd door de Haagse politie verwerkt. ‘… [weg gelakt] geeft aan dat de vrouw die de demonstratie organiseert, dat ook vrijdag in Utrecht heeft gedaan. Daar waren slechts 25 deelnemers. Het is dan ook denkbaar dat komende vrijdag ook weinig deelnemers komen (operationele driehoek Den Haag 21 maart 2011).’

Geen openbare maar ideologische orde

De inlichtingendienst van de politie heeft in het kader van haar taak ten aanzien van de openbare orde de bevoegdheid informatie te verzamelen ter voorkoming van verstoringen van de openbare orde. De burgemeester kan op basis van concrete aanwijzingen een demonstratie verbieden. Bij betogingen van extreem-rechts gebeurde dat in het verleden regelmatig. De burgemeesters oordeelden dan dat de kans op een tegendemonstratie en confrontatie met tegenstanders de orde zou verstoren.

Keer op keer oordeelden rechters dat de veronderstelling dat de orde verstoord zou gaan worden niet voldoende reden is om een demonstratie te verbieden. De aanwijzingen waren niet concreet. Bij de protesten van studenten tegen de bezuinigingen op het onderwijs valt op dat er op geen enkel moment concrete aanwijzingen zijn geweest dat er ordeverstoringen zouden plaatsvinden.

Wat wel zichtbaar is geworden, is dat de overheid een complete inlichtingenoperatie op touw heeft gezet om een relatie te leggen tussen krakers, anarchisten, linkse types en andere anarcho-extremisten enerzijds, en de protesten van studenten anderzijds. Deze operatie ging in het geheel niet over de openbare orde, maar om het identificeren van zogenaamde radicalen. De RID Den Haag en de AIVD vervulden bij deze operatie een sleutelrol.

Hoeveel informatie hiervan daadwerkelijk in allerlei dossiers is aanbeland, blijft onduidelijk. Wel is duidelijk dat er sprake is van een innig contact tussen de landelijke inlichtingendienst en de politie. ‘Meldingsformulier van het hoofd van de RID Haaglanden, 15 Haaglanden, RID referentie-nr 1414/11, Formulier met betrekking tot studentendemonstratie 25 maart 2011 te Den Haag.’

Dat deze relatie niet altijd vlekkeloos verloopt, wordt ook duidelijk aan de hand van inzage in de correspondentie tussen burgemeester Van Aartsen en het hoofd van de AIVD. ‘De burgemeester geeft aan dat hij de verstrekte informatie van de AIVD onbevredigend vindt en schorst het driehoeksoverleg (driehoeksoverleg 20 januari 2011).’ De burgemeester belt de baas van de AIVD die echter beweert dat hij ‘niet meer informatie kan verstrekken, anders dan dat het om personen van AFA zou gaan die naar Den Haag zouden willen komen.’ Daarbij is onduidelijk of de AIVD meer feitelijke informatie in handen heeft en die men niet prijs wil geven.

Het gaat bij protesten allang niet meer om de openbare orde, maar om de ideologische orde. Dit ligt in het verlengde van het concept ideologische misdaad dat het landelijk parket en de nationale politie hanteren. Hierbij ontwikkelt de politie zich als een soort inlichtingendienst die buitenparlementair verzet in de gaten houdt en de RID blijkbaar naar zich toetrekt. De openbare orde informatie wordt vermengd met de informatie over mogelijke staatsondermijnende activiteiten, lees ideologische groepen.

Slechts weinig bestuurders hebben zicht op deze activiteiten van de politie. De driehoek van Nijmegen, Enschede, Arnhem en Utrecht zijn allemaal buiten de inlichtingencommunicatie van de politie gehouden. ‘De gemeente Arnhem is noch beleidsmatig noch uitvoerend noch handhavend bij de door u genoemde studentenacties en/of studentengroep KSNA betrokken geweest. Ook op de agenda van de zogenaamde Driehoek komt het onderwerp studentenprotesten en/of studentengroepen in de door u genoemde periode (2009 – heden) niet voor’, schrijft de gemeentesecretaris van Arnhem.

Waarom informatie over politieke partijen en vreedzaam protesterende studenten dan in inlichtingendossiers belanden, is onduidelijk. Het feit dat iemand kraakt en student is en ook nog demonstreert tegen de bezuinigingen is blijkbaar voldoende om hem of haar aan te merken als ‘radicaal’. Als zo iemand dan ook nog deelneemt aan demonstraties van AFA, is er al snel sprake van anarcho-extremisme. Daarbij speelt de AIVD dan weer een rol.

In dit schimmenspel lijkt het allang niet meer om waarheid en feiten te gaan. De spin, het bespelen van de media en de gemeenteraad is het uitgangspunt. De rechtsorde is in dit verband door de driehoeken in verschillende steden vervangen door de ideologische orde. Een ieder moet hetzelfde denken, anders wordt je gebrandmerkt als ‘radicaal’ of ‘anarcho-extremist’. Protesteren als student tegen bezuinigingen in het onderwijs kunnen dan al snel worden omschreven als staatsgevaarlijke activiteiten.

Find this story at 10 July 2013

Police criticised and ridiculed over attempt to spy on students and protesters

Secret footage has revealed how a policeman tried to recruit an activist to feed him information about the political activities of students and other campaigners

Police chiefs have received a hefty dose of criticism, and ridicule, since it was revealed that one of their officers attempted to persuade an activist to spy on Cambridge University students.

As the Guardian disclosed here yesterday, a policeman approached a young activist and tried to recruit him as an informant.

Instead, the activist decided to expose the surveillance with the help of a concealed camera.

He recorded a meeting with the officer who said he wanted information about students, groups such as UK Uncut and Unite Against Fascism, and anti-fracking demonstrators.

A series of clips from the secret footage can be seen here, here, here, here and here.

Cambridge University did not want to comment, saying that it was a matter for the police. Cambridgeshire Police has only said :”Officers use covert tactics to gather intelligence, in accordance with the law, to assist in the prevention and detection of criminal activity.”

Today my colleague Hugh Muir takes an acerbic look at how “the secret snoopy state seeks to monitor the legitimate activity of those who might ask questions of it.”

Here’s a selection of what others have said.

The Cambridge University Student Union said they were “alarmed” and found it “absurd”.

They added :”Tactics such as these are not only intrusive, they also waste time targeting groups which are involved in making important and positive change in our society. We condemn the actions of the police in this matter and hope the Government will look critically at the use of surveillance measures by UK security forces.”

Cambridge Defend Education, an anti-cuts campaign named as a potential target of the infiltration, said :”The police will go to any lengths to gain ‘intelligence’ on activist groups, including deceiving women into long-term intimate relationships. It is telling that the police regard their activities as completely legitimate and legal, reflecting their crucial role in enforcing austerity policies through both violent and covert repression of those who oppose them.”

Rachel Wenstone, deputy president of the National Union of Students, said : “This revelation is an absolute scandal. This is yet another example of the questionable tactics that undercover police officers have taken in recent years to infiltrate campaign groups and extract information.We now need to know just how widespread this practice is.”

She added : “To group the activities of hardworking students’ unions within the same realm as those of the English Defence League is grossly offensive.”

The covertly-recorded footage had shown that the police officer also wanted information about the EDL, but recognised that the activist was on the wrong side of the political divide to provide those details.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, condemned the infiltration of “anti-fracking or educational campaign groups, where there is zero suspicion of any wrongdoing” as “a gross abuse of surveillance powers.”

“Coming after attempts to discredit the family of Stephen Lawrence and undercover officers fathering children with activists this episode makes clear why the police should not be able to approve their own undercover surveillance operations. Judicial oversight is essential if these kinds of abuses are to be prevented.

“Were it not such a stark reminder of the weak oversight of police intelligence operations you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the plot for a student film, albeit inspired more by David Brent than James Bond.”

“There should be a full, independent inquiry into the activities of this unit and I will be writing to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to ask that they investigate.”

Jules Carey, a solicitor at Tuckers’ law firm representing several campaigners taking action against the Metropolitan Police over the alleged behaviour of undercover officers, said of Cambridgeshire Police: “The force has clearly lost its way. There can be no justification in a democracy for attempting to deploy informants into student groups and protest organisations. The force should be seeking to uphold the fundamental right to protest, not taking cynical steps to undermine it”.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy for human rights campaigners Liberty, said: “After the scandalous infiltration of grieving families and environmental movements, police now set their sights on student activism.

“That any group which dares to dissent is apparently fair game should alarm anyone committed to proportionate policing and democracy itself. Proper judicial checks on police surveillance are badly overdue – Parliament must take responsibility and act.”

Find this story at 15 November 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

‘Gaan jullie stenen gooien?’ Inlichtingenoperatie rondom studentenprotest

Dat studenten actie voeren tegen aangekondigde bezuinigingen op het onderwijs is van alle tijden. Daar is niets staatsondermijnend aan. Des te meer opmerkelijk dat diverse actieve studenten gedurende de acties en betogingen door de Regionale Inlichtingendienst en geheime dienst AIVD benaderd zijn met de vraag informant te worden.

‘Gaan jullie stenen gooien?’

Eind 2009 stak er langzaam een storm van protest op tegen de bezuinigingen in het onderwijs. Al jaren wordt er zowel binnen de politiek als vanuit wetenschappelijke hoek geroepen dat er geïnvesteerd moet worden om het Nederlandse onderwijs op peil te houden. De regering van CDA en VVD met gedoogpartner PVV vindt echter dat ook het onderwijs moet korten in verband met de algemene economische malaise. De studentenbonden, maar ook docenten keerden zich tegen het beleid van staatssecretaris Zijlstra van het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW).

Naast de ‘officiële’ organen van studenten (LSVB en IOS) en de jongerenorganisaties van enkele politieke partijen (Dwars en Rood) ontstond er een keur aan actiegroepen. Verspreid over het land richtten studenten clubs op als de Kritische Studenten Utrecht (KSU), Kritische Studenten Nijmegen Arnhem (KSNA), Kritische Studenten Twente (KST), Professor Protest (Amsterdam), SACU (Studenten Actie Comité Utrecht), Onderwijs is een Recht (OIER, Landelijk) en de comités SOS Nijmegen en SOS Amsterdam.

Actiegolf

Vanaf april 2010 tot de zomer van 2011 spoelde een golf aan acties over het land. Ludieke acties op straat of in universiteiten, bezettingen van hogescholen en faculteiten en demonstraties in verschillende steden. In het najaar van 2010 nam het protest in omvang toe en in januari 2011 demonstreerden ruim 10.000 studenten tegen de bezuinigingen.

Doel van de acties was van meet af aan duidelijk: geen kortingen op het onderwijs, zeker in een tijd dat de werkloosheid toeneemt. Ook al leefde er groot ongenoegen over het kabinet en gedoogpartner PVV, de regering omverwerpen was nooit een doelstelling. Oppositiepartijen en universiteits- en schoolbesturen verzetten zich samen met de studenten.

Nu lopen ludieke acties, bezettingen en demonstraties wel eens uit de hand, maar zoals onderzoek van Buro Jansen & Janssen naar demonstratierecht in Den Haag heeft uitgewezen, gebeurt dit zelden. Als er al ongeregeldheden plaats vinden, zijn lang niet altijd de actievoerders de schuldigen. Veelal is het ook te wijten aan het optreden van de politie. Bij grote demonstraties is vaak ook een overmacht aan mobiele eenheid aanwezig. De laatste jaren blijven ernstige rellen dan ook uit.

Begin 2011, op het hoogtepunt van de protestgolf, deed zich echter iets geks voor. Op de ochtend van vrijdag 21 januari meldde VVD-burgemeester Van Aartsen aan de NOS dat ‘de gemeente Den Haag aanwijzingen had dat radicalen de studentendemonstratie van vandaag willen verstoren’. Van Aartsen zei dat de politie die aanwijzingen baseerde op informatie afkomstig van ‘open en gesloten bronnen’.

Tijdens die demonstratie vonden er enkele schermutselingen plaats, maar of daar de ‘radicalen’ bij betrokken waren waar Van Aartsen eerder die dag op doelde, bleef onduidelijk. De open bronnen zouden websites, pamfletten en allerlei bladen zijn. Bij gesloten bronnen kan het gaan om telefoon en internet taps, observaties, maar ook informanten en infiltranten.

Zoals verwacht vond er een relletje plaats op het Plein voor het Tweede Kamergebouw en op het Malieveld. De politie meldde dat een deel van de aangehouden jongeren deel uit zou maken van radicale groeperingen. Volgens burgemeester Van Aartsen waren de arrestanten leden van de linkse groep Anti-Fascistische Aktie, zo meldde de NOS die avond.

Radicalen

Volgens de demonstranten liepen er tijdens de betoging veel agenten in burger mee en was de ME dreigend aanwezig. Dit kan het gevolg zijn geweest van de dreigende taal van de burgemeester. De ‘radicalen’ moesten per slot van rekening in de gaten worden gehouden. Van de 27 verdachten (cijfers van de politie) werden er nog op dezelfde dag 22 vrijgelaten.

Vijf verdachten werden maandag 24 januari voorgeleid. Volgens het openbaar ministerie bevonden zich hieronder ‘enkele niet-studenten’. Het zou gaan om een 27-jarige man uit Spanje, een 22-jarige man uit Haarlem, een 21-jarige Amsterdammer, een 26-jarige inwoner van Wassenaar en een 18-jarige Delftenaar.

Het OM maakte niet duidelijk wie nu wel of niet student was. Een HBO-student Arts and Sciences kreeg 8 weken onvoorwaardelijk opgelegd, een student politicologie en geschiedenis 80 uur werkstraf, een bouwkundestudent 40 uur werkstraf en een student toerisme een boete van 500 euro.

Alle verdachten en advocaten spraken van excessief politiegeweld. “De ME mishandelde vrouwen en kinderen” en “ik smeet vrijdag een aantal stenen, nee, geen bakstenen, naar de ME, omdat het geweld dat de politie gebruikte me diep schokte.” De rechter moest toegeven dat het optreden van de politie “niet de schoonheidsprijs verdiende.”

De veroordeelden waren allemaal studenten, zelfs de Spanjaard. Waarom logen burgemeester, politie en OM zowel voor als na de demonstratie over ‘radicalen’? Bespeelden zij de media om zo studenten in een verkeerd daglicht te plaatsen? En waar kwamen die radicalen plotseling vandaan? Na de demonstratie waren de radicalen volgens de burgemeester deelnemers aan de actiegroep AFA. Welke kennis had de politie en vanwaar werd die ingezet?

De gebeurtenissen rondom de demonstratie van 21 januari richtte de aandacht op iets dat al maanden aan de gang was. Vanaf het begin van de studentenprotesten is de overheid bezig geweest om het verzet in kaart te brengen, studenten te benaderen, informanten te werven, te infiltreren en zicht te krijgen op verschillende groepen. Niet de Landelijke Studenten Vakbond (LSVb) of het Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (IOS) zouden een gevaar vormen, maar andere ‘radicalere’ studentikoze actiegroepen.

Benadering

In april en mei 2010 werd ‘Marcel’ gebeld door een man die zei dat hij van de recherche was en zichzelf Veerkamp noemde. Van welke afdeling en in welke hoedanigheid de beambte contact opnam, vertelde hij niet. Veerkamp werkt echter voor de Regionale Inlichtingendienst Utrecht, zoals uit een andere benadering blijkt. (zie Observant 58, Voor de RID is Griekenland ook een gevaar). De ‘rechercheur’ wilde graag geregeld contact met Marcel.

Marcel is student en actief voor het Studenten Actie Comité Utrecht (SACU) dat nauw samenwerkt met de Kritische Studenten Utrecht (KSU). Beide actiegroepen richten zich op de bezuinigingen op het onderwijs, maar plaatsen die tevens in maatschappelijk perspectief. Naast bezettingen, demonstraties en acties organiseerden ze ook debatten, lezingen en discussies. De kritische studentengroepen hielden een weblog bij met verslagen, agenda en discussie, een open structuur.

De man van de ‘recherche’ wilde van Marcel uit eerste hand weten wat de Utrechtse studenten de komende tijd gingen doen. “Zij wilden graag weten wat ze van ons konden verwachten”, vat Marcel het telefonische onderhoud samen. Marcel vond het nogal vreemd dat de man hem benaderde. Voor demonstraties werd openlijk opgeroepen en de groep meldde deze zelfs bij de politie aan. Waarom zou hij dan achter de rug om van andere studenten met deze man gaan praten?

Al snel werd duidelijk waar het de man om te doen was. Tijdens een van de twee gesprekken vroeg hij Marcel of ze van plan waren om stenen te gaan gooien tijdens studentendemonstraties. Marcel was nogal overrompeld door deze vraag, het leek of de politie er op zat te wachten. Alsof er een behoefte bestond van de zijde van de overheid om de studenten te criminaliseren.

AFA

Waarom wordt een student in Utrecht benaderd met de vraag of de studenten stenen zouden gaan gooien? Als Marcel de enige benaderde actievoerder was geweest dan is de conclusie simpel. De man die hem belde is wellicht werkzaam voor de Regionale Inlichtingendienst (RID) en was op zoek naar een contact binnen de kritische studentengroepen met het oog op mogelijke toekomstige ongeregeldheden. RID’ers hebben zo ook contacten met voetbalsupporters, zoals die van FC Utrecht.

Hoewel het personeel van de RID professionals zijn in het misleiden van mensen, kan de opmerking betreffende ‘stenen gooien’ een verspreking zijn geweest. De benaderde Marcel is echter geen uitzondering. ‘Peter’ werd in een eerder stadium gebeld door iemand van de overheid. Hij is student in Amsterdam en was actief voor de actiegroep Professor Protest. Het is niet duidelijk of de man die hem benaderde dezelfde persoon is geweest die Marcel heeft gebeld. Peter werd gevraagd om als informant te gaan werken. Hij voelde daar niets voor en verbrak de verbinding.

De combinatie van verschillende benaderingen, het bestempelen van elementen bij een studentendemonstratie als zijnde ‘radicaal’ en het benoemen van de ‘linkse groep Anti-Fascistische Aktie’ is te toevallig. In het deelrapport Ideologische Misdaad uit 2005 en 2007 van de KLPD worden deelnemers van AFA expliciet genoemd als ideologische misdadigers, mensen die worden verdacht van het plegen van een misdaad uit ideologische, politieke motieven.

Zodra activisten van AFA door politie worden gezien als ideologische misdadigers en door het landelijk parket gelijk worden gesteld aan roof misdadigers (Strategienota aandachtsgebieden 2005 – 2010) dan is een inlichtingenoperatie gericht op studenten een logisch uitvloeisel indien AFA-activisten ook student zijn en actief binnen die groepen. Daarbij passen benaderingen, infiltratie, aftappen, observaties en andere geheime methoden. Kritische studentengroepen plaatsen de strijd tegen de bezuinigingen van het kabinet in een breder perspectief.

Actieve studenten zijn soms ook politiek actief of strijden voor bijvoorbeeld dierenrechten, ondemocratisch Europa of bijeenkomsten van de G8 of G20. Het optreden van de overheid in deze doet sterk denken aan de inlichtingenoperatie van de BVD rond de Amsterdamse studentenbond ASVA in de jaren ’60 en ’70. Het verschil leek dat Marcel en Peter niet door de inlichtingendienst (de AIVD) zijn benaderd, maar door de ‘recherche’. De recherche zou dan misschien de Nationale Recherche zijn geweest vanwege de ‘ideologische misdaad’.

Geheime dienst

Nu is de wijze waarop prioriteiten gesteld worden aan het werk van politie en parket onderhevig aan politieke druk. Prioriteiten veranderen jaarlijks, afhankelijk van gevoerde discussies in de Tweede Kamer en de doelstellingen van een individuele minister. Het is echter moeilijk voor te stellen dat studentenprotesten plotseling als een belangrijk strategiepunt zijn benoemd voor de Nationale Recherche. Beleid verandert meestal traag, het duurt een tijd voordat het opsporingsapparaat zich gaat richten op een andere prioriteit.

Niet de Nationale Recherche zat dan ook achter de studenten aan, maar de geheime dienst. De benadering van ‘Karin’ onderstreept dit. Zij werd benaderd door iemand van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, het ministerie dat verantwoordelijk is voor het functioneren van de AIVD. Marcel en Peter zijn waarschijnlijk benaderd door functionarissen van de Regionale Inlichtingendiensten van Amsterdam en Utrecht.

Probleem is dat inlichtingenfunctionarissen meestal niet te koop lopen met hun naam en het werk dat ze verrichten. Indien je als burger zelf niet vraagt met wie je van doen hebt, kunnen zij niet de beleefdheid opbrengen om duidelijk aan te geven dat zij voor een inlichtingendienst werken.

Karin is student aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). Zij is sinds eind 2010 betrokken bij het studentenverzet. In februari 2011 bezette zij samen met andere studenten het Bungehuis van de UvA. Aan de actiegroep waar zij deel van uitmaakte, Professor Protest, nam ook Peter deel.

Op 20 april 2011 werd Karin gebeld door een man die zich voorstelde als ‘Ivo Kersting’ (of Kertjens of Kerstman of Kerstland) van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijkrelaties. Haar mobiele nummer was niet gebruikt als perstelefoon dus Ivo moet haar nummer via het Centraal Informatiepunt Onderzoek Telecommunicatie (CIOT) hebben verkregen.

Ivo belde vanuit Amsterdam met nummerherkenning en sprak Karin met haar voornaam aan. Zij was nogal overrompeld door het telefoontje. Hij vroeg of hij op een gelegen tijdstip belde waarop zij ontkennend antwoordde. Hij kon haar over een uur terugbellen, maar zei niet waarover. Karin vroeg het nog, maar Ivo zei, “nee, over een uur hoor je dat wel”.

Een uur later hing hij weer aan de lijn, nu zonder achternaam. “Hallo, weer met Ivo, van Binnenlandse Zaken. Wij zijn de studentenbeweging in kaart aan het brengen. Jij bent toch woordvoerder geweest van de Bungehuis bezetting? Je bent ons positief opgevallen, en je zou ons erg helpen als je met ons rond de tafel komt zitten om wat te debatteren over de studentenbeweging.”

Ivo heeft gedurende de telefoongesprekken op geen enkele manier uitgelegd wat voor functie hij op het ‘ministerie’ vervulde. Karin antwoordde dat ze geen tijd had en niet meer actief betrokken ws bij de studentenprotesten. Ivo leek een beetje van zijn stuk gebracht door haar resolute antwoord. “Oh, dat is jammer je zou ons echt enorm kunnen helpen, kan ik je niet overhalen?”, probeerde hij nog. Toen Karin ontkennend antwoordde, gooide hij zonder gedag te zeggen de hoorn op de haak.

Intimiderend

Medewerkers van de inlichtingendienst hebben de neiging zich boven de burger, de samenleving te plaatsen. Ze hebben toegang tot allerlei persoonlijke informatie waardoor mensen die benaderd worden zich erg geïntimideerd voelen. Karin vond de gesprekken met Ivo Kersting vervelend en intimiderend. Hij bleef aandringen, draaien, geveinsd vriendelijk doen en doordrammen terwijl zij toch duidelijk was met haar ontkenning.

Ivo belde namelijk na een paar minuten weer terug. Hij verontschuldigde zich niet dat hij zo onbeschoft de hoorn op de haak had gegooid, maar zei meteen dat ze geld kreeg voor deelname aan het gesprek. Hoewel Karin opnieuw zei niet mee te willen werken, bleef de functionaris aanhouden. “We kunnen ook in Amsterdam afspreken. Ben je in Amsterdam? Je woont toch in Amsterdam? Ik ben nu met een collega in de buurt dus dan zouden we even kunnen spreken?”

Blijkbaar wisten ze meer van haar dan ze hadden laten doorschemeren. Karin wees de agenten opnieuw af, maar op het drammerige af bleef Ivo aanhouden. “Anders spreken we af dat jij bepaalt waar en wanneer je af wilt spreken. Je zou ons echt enorm kunnen helpen.” De druk werd opgevoerd. Karin moest zich schuldig gaan voelen. Zij wilde niet meewerken terwijl Ivo en zijn collega zo redelijk waren.

Dat waren ze echter niet. Ze intimideerden haar en toonden geen respect voor haar standpunt. “Weet je wat, ik overval je nu natuurlijk. Misschien kan ik je anders volgende week bellen”, zei Ivo alsof hij haar ontkenning helemaal niet had gehoord. Opnieuw voor de tiende keer antwoordde Karin dat ze niet wilde afspreken, geen tijd en zin had.

Karin was overrompeld, maar was nee blijven zeggen. Achteraf realiseert zij zich dat ze blij was dat ze wist dat ze het volste recht had om te weigeren mee te werken. Na een spervuur aan vragen te hebben overleefd en geschrokken te zijn van de behandeling, bleef er alleen maar boosheid bij haar hangen. “Het is eigenlijk politie van de ergste soort omdat ze zich niet eens voordoen als politie, en het laten lijken alsof je gewoon een gezellig kopje koffie gaat drinken”, vat ze het maanden later samen.

“Veel studenten die benaderd worden zullen dusdanig geïntimideerd zijn dat ze gaan praten omdat ze niet durven te weigeren. Anderen zullen denken dat het om een gezellige discussie of om een debat gaat”, concludeert Karin. De geheim agenten gaven haar ook die indruk. “Ze deden alsof het heel erg zou helpen als ik met ze zou gaan debatteren over de studentenbeweging, alsof zij invloed hadden op de besluitvorming rondom de bezuinigingen”, voegt ze nog toe. Karin is er van overtuigd dat er zeker studenten zijn geweest die op het aanbod zijn ingegaan en met Ivo en zijn collega of andere functionarissen hebben gesproken.

Persoonsdossiers

Naast Marcel, Peter en Karin zijn er ook andere mensen benaderd vanaf het najaar van 2010 tot en met de zomer van 2011. Waarom wordt een inlichtingendienst ingezet tegen een groep studenten die protesteert tegen de bezuinigingen op het onderwijs? Niet om rellen te voorkomen, zoals bij voetbalsupporters. Bij risicowedstrijden communiceert de RID vooral met de burgemeester en met de driehoek over mogelijke ongeregeldheden, niet met de inlichtingendienst.

Dat er een uitgebreidere inlichtingenoperatie rondom de studentenprotesten op touw is gezet, maken de eerste stukken duidelijk die via de Wet openbaarheid van Bestuur (WoB) en de Wet op de Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdiensten (WIV) zijn verkregen. De RID van de regiopolitie Haaglanden heeft op 27 januari 2011 een nabeschouwing van de studentendemonstratie opgesteld voor het Algemeen Commandant van de Staf grootschalig en bijzonder optreden (AC SGBO).

Of dit rapport alleen naar de algemeen commandant is gegaan, valt te betwijfelen. Op 21 maart 2011 schrijft rapporteur ‘R: 15:’ van de RID Haaglanden het verstrekkingrapport 1414/11 aan de AIVD. Het rapport gaat over een studentendemonstratie van 25 maart 2011. Er wordt in gemeld wie de organisator was van de betoging, de route en het aantal te verwachten demonstranten. Onduidelijk is of er delen van het rapport zijn achtergehouden.

Evenmin duidelijk is hoelang de overheid studenten al in kaart aan het brengen is. Duidelijk is wel dat er persoonsdossiers zijn samengesteld van individuele actievoerders. Op basis van die dossiers is de claim van burgemeester Van Aartsen, de politie en het Openbaar Ministerie rond de demonstratie van 21 januari 2011 te begrijpen. Of er provocateurs van politie of inlichtingendienst, mensen die aanzetten tot geweld, tussen de demonstrerende studenten rond hebben gelopen, is niet duidelijk. Wel waren er veel agenten in burger op de been en de ME trad onnodig hard op.

Marcel, Peter en Karin zijn fictieve namen.

Find this story at 26 maart 2013

Police tried to spy on Cambridge students, secret footage shows

Officer is filmed attempting to persuade activist in his 20s to become informant targeting ‘student-union type stuff’

Police sought to launch a secret operation to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University, a covertly recorded film reveals.

An officer monitoring political campaigners attempted to persuade an activist in his 20s to become an informant and feed him information about students and other protesters in return for money.

But instead the activist wore a hidden camera to record a meeting with the officer and expose the surveillance of undergraduates and others at the 800-year-old institution.

The officer, who is part of a covert unit, is filmed saying the police need informants like him to collect information about student protests as it is “impossible” to infiltrate their own officers into the university.

The Guardian is not disclosing the name of the Cambridgeshire officer and will call him Peter Smith. He asks the man who he is trying to recruit to target “student-union type stuff” and says that would be of interest because “the things they discuss can have an impact on community issues”.

Smith wanted the activist to name students who were going on protests, list the vehicles they travelled in to demonstrations, and identify leaders of protests. He also asked the activist to search Facebook for the latest information about protests that were being planned.

The other proposed targets of the surveillance include UK Uncut, the campaign against tax avoidance and government cuts, Unite Against Fascism and environmentalists. The Cambridgeshire police initially insisted that there were implications for “national security” but later dropped this argument when challenged.

At another point, the activist asked whether a group known as Cambridge Defend Education, which has protested against tuition fees and education cuts, would be of interest. Smith replied: “That’s the sort of thing that we would be looking for. Again, basic sort of stuff. It’s all the internet. When they have meetings and they are discussing what they are going to do, that’s when we’ll say: ‘Will you go along?'”

Cambridge Defend Education describes itself as being “mostly students and academics from Cambridge University”.

Rachel Wenstone, deputy president of the National Union of Students, said: “This is yet another example of the questionable tactics that undercover police officers have taken in recent years to infiltrate campaign groups and extract information.”

Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, tweeted: “I’m shocked by this – seems wholly inappropriate.” Cambridge University did not comment, saying it was a matter for the police.

Cambridgeshire police said: “Officers use covert tactics to gather intelligence, in accordance with the law, to assist in the prevention and detection of criminal activity.”

The disclosures follow prolonged criticism of the police over their secret deployment of long-term undercover officers in political groups since 1968. Police chiefs have been accused of unjustifiably infiltrating and disrupting political groups that use non-violent methods to promote their aims.

Another technique for gathering intelligence on campaigners has been to convince activists to become paid informants and pass on details of future protests and prominent campaigners. The number of informants in political groups, according to police sources, runs into the hundreds.

The covert film sheds light on the rarely visible world of informants, illuminating how the police recruit and task them. The activist, who does not want to be named and has been given the pseudonym John Armstrong, was rung on his mobile out of blue at the beginning of October by the police officer.

Smith said he worked for the police and asked him if he was willing to come to a police station in Cambridge to help him with a matter that he did not disclose.

According to Armstrong, Smith had chosen him because he had been active in environmental and anti-nuclear groups and had been arrested three times on demonstrations, although not charged. He has also lived in Cambridge for many years.

Afterwards, Armstrong contacted the Guardian as he did not want to become an informant. He agreed to wear a concealed camera to record the contents of his second meeting with Smith.

During this meeting, Smith suggested that he wanted Armstrong to start by providing information about local groups in Cambridge, before progressing on to national campaigns.

“Let’s keep it small, you know little things that go on, little meetings that happen where they are going to discuss different issues in Cambridge, whether it be, such as at the university or those sorts of things,” the officer is recorded as saying. When Armstrong said he had been involved in a student-organised occupation of Cambridge University in a protest against tuition fees three years ago and asked if Smith would have been interested in that, Smith said yes. “Again, it’s those sorts of things. You know, what is the feeling of people, if you are inside.”

The young man then asked if it would have been difficult for the police to send their own officers into the occupation, to which Smith replied: “We can’t do it. It’s impossible. That’s why we need to work with people.” Armstrong has not been a student at Cambridge, although many of his friends are at the university.

When contacted by the Guardian, a Cambridgeshire police spokesperson said: “Officers use covert tactics to gather intelligence, in accordance with the law, to assist in the prevention and detection of criminal activity.” They declined to give any details of the unit Smith works for.

Smith outlined what information Armstrong would be required to slip him. “It will be a case of you going to meetings, say, I don’t know, UK Uncut, student … something like that, how many people were there, who was the main speaker, who was giving the talks, what was your assessment of the talk, was it a case of – were they trying to cause problems or were they trying to help people, you know, those sort of things.”

Smith also said he wanted Armstrong to collect information about Cambridge campaigners who were planning to go to protests in other parts of the country. “That’s where the names come in. Because what I will want to know is – OK, who’s going, do they plan on a peaceful protest which is absolutely fine, how they are going to go, as in what vehicles they are going to use, index numbers.”

He goes on to say: “So you will tell me, for example, there’s 50 people going from Cambridge University, these are the vehicles they are travelling in and they are going as a peaceful protest?”

Smith outlined how the information gathered by Armstrong would be funnelled to the police officers in charge of policing the demonstration: “The reason I am asking those questions is because it gives the officers or whoever’s looking after it on that side of things, as in at the protest, an idea of how many people are going to attend, where they are coming from, how many vehicles are going to turn up, so they can put measures in place to keep them off the road and things. It’s not because we want to target people and round them all up and arrest them.”

Smith also suggested that Armstrong use Facebook to find information about groups, adding: “It is easier to ask people like yourself to give us updates … It’s all about us doing things legally … We don’t hack into people’s accounts so then we would ask you for updates.”

The officer also suggested the man he hoped to recruit would be paid expenses or other sums. “You might go to a UK Uncut or Unite Against Fascism meeting one evening, you might get say £30 just for your time and effort for doing that. That’s the sort of thing you are looking at.”

As Smith sought to convince Armstrong to sign up, he also advised him not to “think too deeply” about informing on his fellow campaigners as he might “tie himself up in knots”.

Rob Evans and Mustafa Khalili
The Guardian, Thursday 14 November 2013 13.42 GMT

Find this story at 14 November 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

New York Police Ends Practice of Keeping Innocent New Yorkers in Stop-and-Frisk Database

In a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Police Department agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked — and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have been black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. We speak to Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with a major development for opponents of New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program. In a settlement announced Wednesday, the NYPD agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked, and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted over five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent.

Two of the people at the center of the case spoke about what happened to them in 2010 in this video produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the case that was just settled. First we hear from Daryl Kahn, who was pulled over by two police officers in an unmarked van and issued a summons for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. That summons was later dismissed. We also hear from Clive Lino, who was issued a summons for spitting in public and possessing an open container. His charges were also dismissed.

DARYL KAHN: If I, riding my bike, legally, on the streets of New York, can end up in a database, some kind of secret police database with my private information in it, for doing nothing wrong, then anyone in the city can end up in that database.

CLIVE LINO: I’ve been stopped so many times that now I’ve lost count. It’s a waste of my time, and it’s an embarrassment, especially when you haven’t done anything at all. I get stopped just coming out of my building. [inaudible] and intimidated, harassed. I feel—I get, like, kind of on edge now when I see officers. I feel like I’m going to be stopped, like a hostage in my own neighborhood.

DARYL KAHN: I was running an errand for my sister in Brooklyn. I was riding my bike, when I was pulled over by a couple of members of the NYPD.

CLIVE LINO: Usually I’m not doing anything when I get stopped. And it proves it, because I’m usually let go.

DARYL KAHN: They started asking me a series of questions, none of which I felt comfortable with, since I hadn’t done anything wrong. When I protested, the—it counter-escalated. More police officers were called over.

CLIVE LINO: When I get a disorderly conduct summons, I’m just usually speaking up for myself, and the officers usually don’t like that.

DARYL KAHN: I was wrenched off the bicycle I was riding. I was slammed up against the van, had my arms wrenched behind my back. I was handcuffed, had my head slammed against the van repeatedly.

CLIVE LINO: No, I’m not a bad person. I don’t have a felony. I’ve never been to prison. I’m an honest, paying-tax citizen, and I hold a job. I just finished up my master’s degree at Mercy College. So, no, I’m not a bad guy.

AMY GOODMAN: The voices of Clive Lino and Daryl Kahn, who sued the New York Police Department over its stop-and-frisk database.

In related news, a federal judge is soon expected to issue a ruling in a major case challenging the constitutionality of the overall stop-and-frisk program.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The New York Police Department did not response to our request for comment.

Donna Lieberman, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. Explain this settlement.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, this settlement follows a couple of years of litigation, and it’s an important victory for all New Yorkers because it really closes the last loophole in the NYPD stop-and-frisk database. A law was passed in 2010, signed into law by Governor Paterson, that prohibits the police department from maintaining the names and addresses of individuals who were stopped and frisked and not arrested. But people who were arrested and cleared of criminal wrongdoing have their names kept in the police department database, even though there’s a statute that says you have—when somebody has their charges dismissed or is exculpated, the database has to—all government databases have to be cleared with regard to the incident. So, the police department was doggedly holding onto this information, so we had to go to court. And finally, they agreed to settle it, after an appeals court said that we had valid claims.

AMY GOODMAN: So explain exactly who is in this database and how many people are in it.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, there were millions, five, six million people in the NYPD database. And the police department—Ray Kelly, in a letter to Pete Vallone a couple years ago, said, “And this is important for us to have, because it helps us to investigate crimes,” translates into rounding up the usual suspects. And there were many who believed that in fact the proliferation of stop and frisk of hundreds of thousands, millions of New Yorkers, who were so innocent that they walked away without even a summons, was prompted by the police department’s desire to get a database of all black and brown New Yorkers. Now, that may be a little bit extreme, but who knows? And who knows really how it was being used? What we do know is that the collateral damage of this stop-and-frisk program that targeted people of color, that is totally out of control, was this police database of innocent New Yorkers, and there’s no reason why there should be a permanent police file of innocent people by virtue of stop and frisk.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, as I said, we invited the New York Police Department on. The deputy commissioner, Paul Browne, couldn’t join us, but he did send the following comment. He wrote, quote, “As to the substance of the NYCLU’s claim today, the reality is that the NYPD had been in full compliance with the relevant law since it was passed by the New York State Legislature in 2010. Accordingly, there was no practical reason to continue this litigation. In other words, it’s been a moot point for three years.”

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Funny the court didn’t think so. And there are actually two laws at issue. One is the law that required the striking of personal information about people who weren’t arrested, and the other was an already existing law that required the sealing of records with regard to peoples who were—people who were arrested and who were exonerated through the court proceedings. And it was that law that the police department was not complying with. And if the police department wasn’t doing it, it’s sort of surprising that they didn’t decide to settle it a long time ago.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. In The New York Times, a senior lawyer for the city, Celeste Koeleveld said that some of the information was already accessible to police officers through other databases. And she said, “At the end of the day, it just didn’t make sense to continue this particular litigation.” So, what does that mean? You can get the information anyway?

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, the 250s, the forms that the police are required to fill out, remain, you know, available to the police department, but they’re not an electronic database. What we had here was an electronic, easily searchable database that could pull up information in seconds. And that was the problem here. Of course, the police hold onto their, you know, records that they maintain on paper.

And, of course, by the way, the database is really, really important. It’s just not the personally identifiable information that’s important. The database tells us how many stop-and-frisks are going on and who they’re targeting. That’s how we have found out, that’s how New Yorkers know, that the program is out of control. So it’s really important to keep the information, but to keep it in an epidemiological kind of way, without personally identifiable information, so that—so that we can track this epidemic and not hurt people whose privacy rights are being impacted.

You know, stop-and-frisk hurts when it happens. And people are sometimes physically brutalized. People are subject to humiliation. Their dignity is just, you know, disrespected. And it’s a traumatic experience. The database is kind of the silent pain. It’s the silent harm of stop-and-frisk, because if by virtue of walking while black you’re put into a permanent police database of usual suspects, well, then that’s a scar that can hurt you at any time in your life.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s look at these numbers. In 2012, you have well over a half a million stops and frisks.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Mm-hmm.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s two years after the law. This doesn’t change the number of stops and frisks. And, of course, what, something like 90 percent were totally innocent, and 55 percent were African American, 32 percent Latino. This doesn’t change the stops and frisks; it’s just how they collect data on them.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Exactly. I mean, there are a lot of challenges going on to the NYPD stop-and-frisk program. There are three major class action lawsuits now pending in federal court: one that challenges the whole—the abuses in the stop-and-frisk program overall; one that challenges the—what’s called the Clean Halls program, which is stop-and-frisk abuse in the—in residential buildings, where landlords sign up for particular police protection, and the police have used this as a pretext to subject residents to all sorts of constitutional violations; and one that challenges a comparable program in public housing. We expect a ruling from the federal court, you know, about the constitutional violations that are part of the NYPD stop-and-frisk program any day, any week now, and that will be very, very important.

And, of course, there’s another aspect of the work that’s going on to rein in this out-of-control police department, which is the legislation that’s pending in the City Council. The City Council passed an inspector general bill, a racial profiling bill, with a supermajority on both. The mayor has promised to strong-arm one vote, so that his veto will not be overridden. And I think we’re convinced that the City Council is going to hold firm, and these historic pieces of legislation will override the veto, and that we’ll have a better framework for fair and just policing—and safe streets, by the way—in New York City at the end of the day.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Mayor Bloomberg’s response, who has said there aren’t enough stops and frisks?

DONNA LIEBERMAN: It’s hard to take that seriously. You know, even the RAND Corporation, which was commissioned to do the police department’s bidding in a report a few years ago, said that in a city this size you would expect maybe 250,000, 300,000 stop-and-frisks. You know, that was at a time when we only had like 400,000 or 500,000 going on. It’s like—it’s glib. It’s ludicrous. And you know what it says about the mayor? It says about the mayor that he just doesn’t get it, that he’s not black, he doesn’t understand the experiences of black parents who have to train their kids how to survive an encounter with the police, where they’re dissing you and you haven’t done anything wrong. I mean, he just doesn’t get it. And I’m confident that, you know, we’ll see major changes.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, his quote is quite something: “The numbers are the numbers, [and] the numbers clearly show [that] the stops are generally proportionate with suspects’ descriptions. And for years now critics have been trying to argue [that] minorities are stopped disproportionately,” he said. He said, “If you look at the crime numbers, that’s just not true. The numbers don’t lie,” he says, because these people who are stopped match descriptions. I mean, if you say, well, the word “black,” you arrest a lot of people in New York City, or you stop and frisk them.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Sure, but you know what? The myth about stop-and-frisk is that it’s about stopping suspicious people. About 15 percent—I think my number is right—of the stops are of people who fit a suspect description. You know, the overwhelming majority are police-initiated on the street. And when so many of the people walk away from a stop, that’s supposed to be based on suspicious activity, without so much as a summons, in an era of broken-windows policing where they would—where they arrest people and give them a ticket for an open container or spitting on the sidewalk, like Clive Lino, that just—it’s hollow. This isn’t a program about stopping criminals. It’s not a program about frisking people with guns. This is a program about stopping and frisking people who are innocent, innocent New Yorkers who commit the crime of walking while black. And last I heard, that’s not a crime.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Donna Lieberman, for being with us. Donna Lieberman is the executive director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union. Stay with us.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Find this story at 12 August 2013

Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violates Rights; Outside Monitor Is Ordered to Oversee Changes to the Legally Challenged Practice

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacts to a federal court’s decision on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice, and outlines the reasons for appealing. Photo: Getty Images.

The New York Police Department violated the Constitution with its practice of stopping and searching people suspected of criminal activity, a federal judge ruled Monday in a decision likely to lead police departments across the country to take a close look at their crime-fighting tactics.

Finding that New York City’s so-called stop-and-frisk program amounted to “indirect racial profiling” by targeting blacks and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the installation of the department’s first-ever independent monitor to oversee changes to its practices. City officials have argued that stop-and-frisk is a key component in their largely successful efforts to fight crime, but opponents have criticized it as a blatant violation of civil rights.

New York City officials immediately criticized the decision. “No federal judge has ever imposed a monitor over a city’s police department following a civil trial,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He said the city didn’t receive a fair trial, citing comments from the judge that he said “telegraphed her intentions,” and he said the city would seek an immediate stay while appealing the decision.

Mr. Bloomberg credited stop-and-frisk with helping drive crime in New York City to record lows. Murders in the city are at levels not seen in more than five decades, for instance. The mayor, who leaves office at year-end after three terms, predicted that should the judge’s decision stand, it could reverse those crime reductions “and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place.”

While New York’s stop-and-frisk practice is much more widely used than those in most other cities, police experts said the ruling is likely to lead police in other cities to tread more carefully in their own tactics.

“It’s definitely a wake-up call to any police chief in the country to be mindful to constitutional rights,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He added that “whether you do [stop-and-frisk] a little or a lot, because of this ruling, you have to be very cautious” about not violating those rights.

Pearl Gabel for The Wall Street Journal

Police stop a group in the Bronx in September 2012.

Police experts said the practice is larger and more coordinated in New York City, where on a daily basis extra patrol officers are sent into neighborhoods where crime patterns have been identified.

While officials in some cities said they wouldn’t be directly affected by the ruling, experts said the order for monitoring and other remedies in New York, including a pilot program in which officers will be equipped with “body-worn cameras,” is likely to be watched by city and police officials elsewhere.

“Even though the decision itself only applies to the NYPD, the fact that it’s the largest police department in the country and it is the NYPD means there will be a lot of publicity,” said Samuel Walker, a criminal-justice professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Omaha, who testified as a plaintiffs’ expert on police monitors at the trial.

Under the pilot camera program, officers in the precinct in each of the city’s five boroughs with the highest number of stops in 2012 will be required to wear the body cameras for a year. After that, the federal monitor will weigh whether the cameras reduced what the judge calls unconstitutional stops and if their benefits outweigh their costs.

The ruling has the potential to embolden civil-liberties groups to confront police departments in other urban areas where officers are stopping minority residents at a rate disproportionate to their population. Stop-and-frisk advocates say that could mean broader scaling back of what they view as a powerful crime-fighting tactic.
More Video

A federal court judge ruled the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice in violation of the United States Constitution, why small talk is actually a big deal, and will protein bars made with cricket flour sell in the U.S.? Photo: AP.

A federal court judge ordered an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice after ruling it violated the U.S. Constitution. Tom Namako reports on Lunch Break. Photo: AP.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterates the success of stop-and-frisk and claims that New York is a “poster child” that the rest of the country looks up to. Photo: Getty Images.

The civil-rights lawsuit challenging the policy, one of three class actions before Judge Scheindlin, was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of plaintiffs who had been stopped by the NYPD. “They did this because they believed what the NYPD was doing was wrong and they wanted it to stop,” said Darius Charney, an attorney at the center.

The judge’s decision Monday came three months after she heard nine weeks of trial testimony as part of the suit challenging the policy, in which officers have stopped and sometimes frisked about five million people since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002. One of the plaintiffs who testified in the trial, David Ourlicht, said he cried when he learned of the decision.

“It’s a big victory for New York. As far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization,” he said.

The other two class actions regarding the stop-and-frisk policy are pending trial.

Stops, by law, must be based on reasonable suspicion of a crime, a standard that city officials insist that NYPD officers have met. During testimony, it was revealed that more than 80% of those stopped were black or Hispanic, approximately 90% of whom were released after being found not to have committed any crimes.

The city argued during testimony that it focused a disproportionate share of its resources in minority neighborhoods with high crime rates and that its practices were “not racially biased policing.”

Judge Scheindlin stated in her decision that the city adopted a “policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data.” The result, she said, is “the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause” of the Constitution.

Associated Press

Judge Shira Scheindlin named a monitor to oversee stop-and-frisk.

Under a landmark 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Terry v. Ohio, police officers are allowed to stop those they have reasonable suspicion committed a crime or are about to commit a crime and frisk them if they have reasonable belief to think them armed or an imminent danger.

Police including the NYPD have been practicing stop-and-frisk for decades, but the practice has come under more scrutiny in New York since 2003, when the NYPD began to be required to report to the City Council the total stops made quarterly. That number had steadily escalated to more than 685,000 a year by 2012 before drastically dipping this year.

Police departments elsewhere say they are trying to balance the rights of citizens with their responsibility to fight crime.

Adam Collins, Chicago Police Department director of news affairs, said all police departments have procedures to question potential suspects when appropriate. He said the Chicago department “uses contact cards to document these interactions and does not engage in any form of racial profiling.”

Over the past two years, he said the CPD “has instituted additional training, mandatory for all officers, around how they are to interact with these individuals and the community to ensure a full understanding of the questioning and potential search.”

The New Orleans Police Department recently updated its stop-and-frisk policy. The tactic allows police officers to “frisk the outer clothing” of a person they believe to be involved in a crime, according to a statement from the office of New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. If an officer “reasonably suspects the person possesses a dangerous weapon, he may search the person,” according to the statement.

—Meredith Rutland, Jacob Gershman and Tamer El-Ghobashy contributed to this article.

A version of this article appeared August 12, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Judge Reins In Frisking By Police.

NEW YORK
August 12, 2013
By SEAN GARDINER

Find this story at 12 August 2013

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Stop-and-Frisk Data

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports:

In 2002, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 97,296 times.
80,176 were totally innocent (82 percent).
In 2003, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 160,851 times.
140,442 were totally innocent (87 percent).
77,704 were black (54 percent).
44,581 were Latino (31 percent).
17,623 were white (12 percent).
83,499 were aged 14-24 (55 percent).
In 2004, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 313,523 times.
278,933 were totally innocent (89 percent).
155,033 were black (55 percent).
89,937 were Latino (32 percent).
28,913 were white (10 percent).
152,196 were aged 14-24 (52 percent).
In 2005, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 398,191 times.
352,348 were totally innocent (89 percent).
196,570 were black (54 percent).
115,088 were Latino (32 percent).
40,713 were white (11 percent).
189,854 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 506,491 times.
457,163 were totally innocent (90 percent).
267,468 were black (53 percent).
147,862 were Latino (29 percent).
53,500 were white (11 percent).
247,691 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2007, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 472,096 times.
410,936 were totally innocent (87 percent).
243,766 were black (54 percent).
141,868 were Latino (31 percent).
52,887 were white (12 percent).
223,783 were aged 14-24 (48 percent).
In 2008, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 540,302 times.
474,387 were totally innocent (88 percent).
275,588 were black (53 percent).
168,475 were Latino (32 percent).
57,650 were white (11 percent).
263,408 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2009, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 581,168 times.
510,742 were totally innocent (88 percent).
310,611 were black (55 percent).
180,055 were Latino (32 percent).
53,601 were white (10 percent).
289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times.
518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
315,083 were black (54 percent).
189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
54,810 were white (9 percent).
295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
350,743 were black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
61,805 were white (9 percent).
341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).
284,229 were black (55 percent).
165,140 were Latino (32 percent).
50,366 were white (10 percent).

About the Data

Every time a police officer stops a person in NYC, the officer is supposed to fill out a form to record the details of the stop. Officers fill out the forms by hand, and then the forms are entered manually into a database. There are 2 ways the NYPD reports this stop-and-frisk data: a paper report released quarterly and an electronic database released annually.

The paper reports – which the N.Y.C.L.U. releases every three months – include data on stops, arrests, and summonses. The data are broken down by precinct of the stop and race and gender of the person stopped. The paper reports provide a basic snapshot on stop-and-frisk activity by precinct and are available here.

The electronic database includes nearly all of the data recorded by the police officer after a stop. The data include the age of person stopped, if a person was frisked, if there was a weapon or firearm recovered, if physical force was used, and the exact location of the stop within the precinct. Having the electronic database allows researchers to look in greater detail at what happens during a stop. Below are CSV files containing data from the 2011 electronic database.

Downloadable Files

Click here to download a compressed (.zip) CSV file of the 2012 database. This file is easily imported into most statistical packages, including the freeware R. It contains 101 variables and 532,911 observations, each of which represents a stop conducted by an NYPD officer. Variables include race, gender and age of the person stopped as well as the location, time and date of the stop.

Click here to download a PDF file of documents and notes that may clarify the dataset. The PDF includes a list and description of variables, a blank stop-and-frisk reporting form (UF-250) and other notes provided by the NYPD.

Find this story at 12 August 2013

And a pdf of the story

 

 

Judge Rules NYPD “Stop and Frisk” Unconstitutional, Cites “Indirect Racial Profiling”

In a historic ruling, a federal court has ruled the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactics used by New York City Police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. In her almost 200-page order Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial. We’re joined by Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel on the case. “This is a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade,” Patel says.
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: We begin with a historic ruling in federal court that the stop-and-frisk tactics used by New York police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers [who] have been stopped and frisked have been innocent.

AMY GOODMAN: In her almost 200-page order, Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, quote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality,” she wrote.

The ruling came after several months of testimony, much of it from eight plaintiffs who were all African American or Latino. Together they described a total 19 incidents in which they were stopped and, in some cases, searched and frisked unlawfully. Shortly after the decision was announced, the plaintiffs in the case held a news conference alongside their lawyers.

DAVID OURLICHT: When I got the call this morning, the first thing I did was cry. And it wasn’t—wasn’t because I was sad or necessarily happy, but because it was so—you know, I put everything to—you know, it’s important, and to know that it was recognized is just—it’s hard to explain. I think, actually, there is something else I have to say. I think it’s a really good picture of what’s going on in society. I mean, this is a big thing for New York, but as far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization of people of color in this country as how we’re viewed, you know, and I think it—I think it just needs to be recognized.

NICHOLAS PEART: You know, our voices do count, and count toward something, you know, greater. And, you know, this has been a long time coming, this case, and all the time that has been put into it and the sacrifices, you know, just taking off work and coming here and giving our testimony to, you know, a big issue that has transcended beyond communities of black and brown people. You know, this is an issue that folks in Tribeca now understand and folks in Soho now understand and have a really, really accurate understanding of this. You know, so I’m grateful for that and the attention that it has received. And, you know, I think it’s clear, you know, the psychological consequences of “stop and frisk” and it being a rites of passage for so many black and brown boys, and, you know, having this experience and being criminalized and, you know, how that carries on to their adult years. So I think we are taking some tremendous steps forward, and I’m definitely grateful for that.

DEVIN ALMONOR: I just feel glad that my—my lawyers, I commend them, and the judge, for doing an outstanding job on my behalf and the other plaintiffs’. And it’s just the beginning of, like, reparations. And with my case, I could have, like—I could have been like Trayvon Martin, because each—it was just too unbearable, and I could have been in his same place. And my heart goes out to his family. And it’s just—it’s just very hard to get through this, but with the help of my parents and my friends and my lawyers, they’ve done all that they can for me, and I love them so very much.

LALIT CLARKSON: In thinking about it, the reason why I joined on to this case was because many of us, including myself, feel like “stop and frisk” is police abuse, and that that’s the lowest level of police abuse. And once police abuse power when it comes to “stop and frisk,” then they can do it in terms of falsely arresting people, then they can do it in terms of planting evidence. And at the most extreme cases, they can do it in terms of killing people. So I think, for many of us here, including myself, this is important, because if we can find remedies to stop officers from violating our constitutional rights, then maybe other forms of police abuse, as it relates to people in my community and other community members, maybe some of that begins to stop.

LEROY DOWNS: Just really thankful for the people that believed in us, you know, that we weren’t making up these stories. We didn’t fabricate anything. We came to the table and said, “This is our experiences, and we’re speaking for millions of other people that are going through the same thing in this city.” And I’m just hopeful that—I know it’s premature, but I’m hopeful that the monitor—it’s not too much bureaucracy with the other city—court-appointed monitors, that we can really have some teeth in the legislation and really make changes to stop-question-and-frisk, and that the policies can actually change, man, like not just talk about change, but really change, really make those adjustments so that people can walk down the street or can stand in front of their house on a cellphone and not have to worry about, you know, being accused of being a drug dealer or something like that. So, I’m thankful to that. Thank you.

AARON MATÉ: Those are the voices of LeRoy Downs, Lalit Clarkson, Devin Almonor, Nicholas Peart, David Ourlicht, all plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk lawsuit. In her ruling, Judge Scheindlin found, quote, “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court. We believe we have done exactly what the courts allow and the Constitution allow us to do, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep this city safe. Throughout the case, we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial. And this decision confirms that suspicion. And we will be presenting evidence of that unfairness to the appeals court.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. For more, we’re joined by Sunita Patel, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the case.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Your response to Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling?

SUNITA PATEL: It’s an astounding victory for everyone in New York City. She has very correctly and smartly decided that the city is engaging in racial profiling. And this is—it’s a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade.

AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say that this is the reason crime is down and that the number of lives that have been saved from some—what did I hear one pundit quoting today?—3,000 in a year now down to 300 murders in a year, particularly in black and brown communities, that the number of black and brown lives saved is a result of this racial profiling?

SUNITA PATEL: Well, for one thing, there’s no empirical evidence linking “stop and frisk” to crime reduction generally. Secondly, you know, this is a tactic, that this murder rate reduction has been quoted in the news—I think it’s a little bit blurry. When this administration—that’s a statistic that spans the course of, you know, 15 years. It’s not something—it’s not within the time period that we’re talking about. When Mayor Bloomberg came into office, the murder rate was already down to some—to a very small number. So, they’re taking credit for something that happened way before them, and they’re blurring the math on this issue. In addition, the crime rates have been going down nationally for the last two decades, and there just isn’t a link between the two.

AARON MATÉ: Can you explain what Judge Scheindlin ruled in determining that “stop and frisk” violates the Fourth and 14th Amendment? And also talk about the remedies that she’s ordered.

SUNITA PATEL: Yes. In the Fourth Amendment claim, she’s saying that—she said that the city has a practice, a widespread practice, of going out and stopping people without individualized suspicion that there is crime afoot, which is what is required by the Supreme Court law in Terry v. Ohio. In the 14th Amendment claim, she’s saying that, look, many of these stops are not only based on—lack reasonable suspicion, but they’re on the basis of race. The city and the New York Police Department is using race as a proxy for crime. Rather than looking at what is this person doing specifically that would allow the police to stop them, they’re saying, “Because they’re black or brown in this area, we’re just going to stop them to try to prevent crime,” which is not—is not constitutional, it’s illegal.

And then, in terms of remedies, what she’s done is she said that she’s going to appoint a federal court monitor, which is very common in policing systemic reform cases to oversee the day-to-day activity of reforms. And she’s also said she wants a second phase of the reform, where community members get to have a stake in what reforms are going to happen. And she’s calling for a joint reform process that will have a facilitator, that allows—also allows the New York Police Department to have a seat at the table to say, “Hey, this is what we think would work. This is what we think wouldn’t work.” I mean, you know, this really should be seen as an opportunity by the police department.

AMY GOODMAN: Who will be the court-appointed monitor?

SUNITA PATEL: Someone named Peter Zimroth. He’s a partner at Arnold & Porter. We don’t know—you know, the plaintiffs’ counsel doesn’t—we didn’t have anything to do with this selection of the monitor, but we do know it sounds like he’s going to be very fair-minded. He’s a former corp counsel and just—attorney, and he’s a former district attorney. So, you know, in my mind, I would think that this is someone that the police department and the city should embrace working with, and we really hope that they will do that and decide not to appeal the judge’s very well-reasoned decision.

AMY GOODMAN: During a news conference Monday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly blasted the ruling and insisted New York City police officers do not engage in racial profiling.

COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY: What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That simply is recklessly untrue. We do not engage in racial profiling. It is prohibited by law. It is prohibited by our own regulations. We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop, and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world. In contrast with some societies, New York City and its police department have focused their crime-fighting efforts to protect the poorest members of our community, who are disproportionately the victims of murder and other violent crime—disturbingly so. To that point, last year 97 percent of all shooting victims were black or Hispanic and reside in low-income neighborhoods. Public housing, in just—with 5 percent of the city’s population, resides—experiences 20 percent of the shootings. There were more stops for suspicious activity in neighborhoods with higher crime because that’s where the crime is.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly speaking Monday. President Obama has indicated he may consider appointing Kelly the new secretary of homeland security, to which Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University and a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, said, “Ray Kelly needs to be the Homeland Security secretary like Paula Deen needs to run the United Nations World Food Program.” He wrote, “Commissioner Kelly is the poster child for the most racially insensitive police practice in the United States, stop and frisk. During his term in office, the number of times police stop people on the street for questioning increased from about 100,000, in 2002, to almost 700,000 in 2011.” But Commissioner Kelly is saying that they are doing this in high crime communities and saving lives in those communities.

SUNITA PATEL: Well, you know, this is something that was analyzed ad nauseam by the court. We had two statistical experts that testified multiple times in the case, and she said, “This is just absolutely false.” She gave very little weight to this argument, because, in reality, the number of times that officers actually check the box on the UF-250 form, that says that they’re stopping someone based on a suspect description, is not that high. It’s between 10 and 15 percent, depending on the year. Instead, they check this box that says “high crime area.” And when our statistical expert analyzed each incident, from 2002 to June 2012, when that box was checked, you know, we found that when you control for all other factors, race is what is determinative, not—it’s not actually the area and the crime rate.

AMY GOODMAN: What about cameras?

SUNITA PATEL: So the judge has ordered the city to test out in a—and to do a study in an evaluation of body-worn cameras. This is something that has been done in, you know, a few small jurisdictions around the country and has had a favorable impact on the—reducing the number of complaints against police officers. Again, this is something that the police department, if it’s doing its job correctly and is actually not engaging in racial profiling, would actually help and support police officers when there are complaints filed against them. You would actually have a contemporaneous record of what’s going on. It’s similar in some ways to traffic cameras, that are becoming standard in many large urban jurisdictions where there are complaints against police officers.

AARON MATÉ: Now, the term itself, “stop and frisk,” can sound kind of harmless, you know, a “stop and frisk” or—it implies a pat-down. But what is the reality of this practice, that you see from talking to your clients?

SUNITA PATEL: I mean, the reality is—I mean, that’s a great question, because I think a lot of people think of it as a very just like blasé—it’s just a frisk, it’s just a pat-down. What we heard in the trial was testimony from 12 people who said, “Look, this is humiliating, this is degrading. This is something that no one should have to go through.” And even worse, it’s something that is—that an entire generation of black and brown people is becoming desensitized to.

We’re talking about something that is physically invasive and degrading. You know, this is an officer that’s saying, “Hey, put your hands against the wall,” and aggressively putting their hands over their bodies, down their waist, down their pant legs, both sides. And one of our plaintiffs—or one of our witnesses even testified about, you know, being grabbed in the groin area. And he felt—on his 18th birthday. And he just felt that this was so humiliating. He filed a complaint. And, you know, at that young age, to even—to bring that forward and to make that kind of claim and then feel that that was—that the officer was not held accountable, I mean, it really has a lasting detrimental impact on the relationship between the police and the community.

AMY GOODMAN: So what happens from here? The city says they’ll appeal.

SUNITA PATEL: The city says they’ll appeal. As I said earlier, I really hope that after they carefully consider the decision, they’ll decide not to. However, you know, they may appeal. Apparently, Michael Cardozo said that they’re considering when they can appeal. It’s not clear if they can appeal yet. And they will likely file a stay, which is something asking for the court—they’ll ask Judge Scheindlin to stay her injunction, so that they don’t have to do anything right now.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much, Sunita, for joining us. Sunita Patel is a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk federal action lawsuit. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a Democracy Now! exclusive. Stay with us.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Find this story at 13 August 2013

Five police forces investigated over alleged Stephen Lawrence smear campaign; Police fractured my arm, says ‘smear victim’

The investigation into alleged police attempts to smear the Stephen Lawrence campaign and undermine the credibility of witnesses attending the Macpherson inquiry into the black teenager’s racist murder is focusing on the activities of five forces, The Independent has learnt.

Investigators are understood to be waiting for senior officers from Avon and Somerset Constabulary and West Midlands Police to complete urgent trawls of their records in relation to possible surveillance or intelligence gathering operations carried out in Bristol and Birmingham.

The cities, alongside Bradford and Manchester, hosted regional sittings of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1998 where race relations campaigners aired a string of grievances against their local forces over stop and search and other flashpoint issues.

The former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, who is already at the centre of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry into an alleged cover-up in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, was referred to the watchdog this week by Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

It followed revelations that leading anti-racism campaigner Mohammed Amran was the subject of a potentially damaging special branch report prior to his giving evidence to the inquiry in Bradford. A number of junior officers from West Yorkshire are also being investigated by the IPCC after being referred by the present Chief Constable.

Greater Manchester Police has also been referred over an internal memo suggesting intelligence was gathered on individuals or groups attending the inquiry in the city.

The cases are likely to be reviewed by Mark Ellison QC – who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris for Stephen’s murder in 2012 – as part of an investigation into the Metropolitan Police following claims of a smear campaign against the teenager’s family and friends made by a former undercover officer.

The inquiry will need to uncover whether the regional forces were acting on behalf of the Met, which was embroiled in one of the biggest crises in its history following the repeated failings to investigate the student’s 1993 murder. It was eventually found to be “institutionally racist” by Macpherson.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones met Chief Constable Chris Sims on Monday to discuss the issue. In a statement the force confirmed it was examining material to see whether any potentially inappropriate intelligence or surveillance activity had taken place.

A team of officers from Avon and Somerset Constabulary have now begun a second trawl of documents after the Home Secretary Theresa May ordered forces nationwide to search their records. A first hunt carried out by an assistant chief constable was said to have discovered no incriminating material. Forces have until next Wednesday to report their findings to Ms May.

Mr Amran, 37, who became the youngest ever Commissioner for Racial Equality (CRE) following his role as a peacemaker in the 1995 Bradford riots, has been told he will not know for at least two weeks what evidence was gathered against him although it is not believed he was placed under surveillance.

His lawyer, Ruth Bundey, said: “He is someone who has helped and advised the authorities in the past and it is very disconcerting for him not to know what is involved here – other than to have been told that it is ‘alarming.’”

It is unclear whether evidence allegedly gathered about Mr Amran resurfaced in a further dossier put together by West Yorkshire Police as part of its alleged attempt to prevent him being re-elected by the CRE. The dossier led Ms Bundey to pursue a successful case of racial discrimination against the force, who settled out of court in 2002.

Mr Amran told The Independent that he was repeatedly arrested after publicly questioning the policing of in Bradford’s multi-racial community.

Despite widespread concern over policing and community relations leading up to the 1995 riots, more disturbances took place in the city in the summer of 2001.

“I challenged the police openly after the 1995 riots and that created a reaction that made my life very difficult,” Mr Amran said. “The arrest I remember most vividly came when I was going to my family home and three officers grabbed me and told me I was under arrest.

“They said ‘You should not be here.’ I was letting myself into my house at the time and they said ‘drop the keys. You are under arrest.’ I sustained a hairline fracture of my arm. They just let me go. On another occasion I was dragged from my car by police. I told them who I was and they didn’t believe me.”

Ian Herbert, Jonathan Brown
Saturday, 6 July 2013

Find this story at 6 July 2013

© independent.co.uk

Dozens of undercover officers could face prosecution, says police chief

Chief constable leading investigation also says he will look at claims that Stephen Lawrence campaigners were spied on

Dozens of police officers could be put on trial for stealing the identities of dead children, and sleeping with female activists they were spying on, according to the police chief leading an inquiry into Metropolitan police undercover work against protest groups.

Mick Creedon, the chief constable of Derbyshire, also said his team would investigate claims from a police whistleblower, Peter Francis, that senior officers wanted him to spy on, and even undermine, the Stephen Lawrence campaign.

In an interview, Creedon offered a “100%” assurance the matter would be properly investigated. He said prosecutors were already being asked to consider whether criminal offences had been committed by generations of undercover operatives planted in protest groups over the past 45 years.

Earlier on Monday, David Cameron said he was “deeply concerned by revelations from Francis, a former undercover police officer who said he was asked to gather intelligence that could be used to “smear” the campaign for justice for Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in a racist attack in 1993.

The prospect that police officers could be prosecuted will alarm senior officers, who have struggled to manage the fallout from the revelations

On Monday morning, the prime minister’s spokesman hinted that the government may order an independent inquiry into Francis’s revelations. Any inquiry would have to “command the family’s confidence as well as that of the public”, he said.

Creedon is already investigating two top-secret Met units: the SDS, which was disbanded in 2008, and another squad – the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) – which still operates.

He said his review was particularly focused on the role of commanding officers: “It’s looking right up the chain of command,” he said. “We have mapped, putting it bluntly, every senior officer, every commander, every deputy citizen commissioner, right up to and including home secretaries.”

The chief constable refused to be drawn on the specifics of Francis’s allegations, but he said that, if proved, they would be “not something that would sit comfortably with any police officer”.

Creedon was asked to take over the inquiry, Operation Herne, in February after it was revealed that operatives working for the two spy units had used the identities of dead children. Weeks later, he conceded that the use of dead children’s identities had been “common practice” in the SDS, and had continued in the NPOIU until around 2001.

In the interview, parts of which are being broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday night, he told the Guardian and the Dispatches programme that he was getting advice on whether dozens of undercover police who used the identities had committed criminal acts. “That is a consideration. We are getting legal advice on that,” he said.

“I am looking to operatives to explain why they did it and why they were trained to do it and how they did it.”

Keith Vaz, the MP and chair of the home affairs select committee, has already called on Scotland Yard to inform parents whose children’s identities were used.

But Creedon said it was highly unlikely he would contact the parents, because to do so would require confirming the false identities used by former operatives.

“The way the world is now, that will fizz around the internet networks instantly,” he said, adding that he saw little benefit in “raking up” the issue with parents who would otherwise remain oblivious.

He also declined to apologise to women who had been duped into relationships with police spies. But he added: “This is completely abhorrent. I use that term carefully. It should not have happened and I’ve always been clear about that. Was it routine? Was it actually part of the tactics? Was it quite deliberate and was it a way of infiltrating, or was it an occasional consequence? I don’t know the answer to that question right now.”

Creedon said prosecutors would also decide whether operatives who had sexual relationships were breaking the law.

“Well, we need to get advice from the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] about whether an undercover officer having a sexual relationship would be a criminal offence,” he said. “We’re waiting for that advice from the CPS, and it will be wrong for me to speculate.”

Asked if the officers may end up in court, he replied: “It’s a possibility, yes.”

However, he said the use by police of deception in sexual relationships needed to be understood in a wider context. “Around the country there are many people involved in sexual relationships who lie about their status,” he said. “There are many people who say they’re not married when they are married. It happens.”

Operation Herne, which is costing the Met £1.6m a year, was launched in 2011. A staff of around 30 officers – almost all of them Met employees – have been sifting through 55,000 documents and interviewing former undercover police officers and their supervisors. Four specific cases are being separately supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.Creedon refused to be drawn on when the inquiry would be complete but Craig Mackey, the deputy commissioner of the Met, has previously indicated it may not conclude until 2016, meaning the five-year inquiry would have cost over £7.5m.

Creedon said he did not know if the findings of his inquiry would ever be made public.

He said he was determined to “keep some balance” in his investigation: “Herne is not about castigating the 100 or so SDS officers that served over 40 years, some of whom were incredibly brave.”

The chief constable rejected the suggestion that it would be more appropriate for the inquiry to be conducted by an independent figure or regulator.

“There has always been public concern about police investigating the police, but I’ll be brutally honest: there is no one as good at doing it as the police,” he said. “We don’t seek to hide things. We do actually seek to get the truth and we do it properly and I frankly find it almost insulting that people suggest that in some way, because I’m a police officer, I’m not going to search the truth.”

Paul Lewis and Rob Evans
The Guardian, Monday 24 June 2013 14.08 BST

Find this story at 24 June 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

How police spies ‘tried to smear the family of Stephen Lawrence’: Undercover officer reveals how superiors wanted him to find ‘dirt’

Peter Francis claims officers told him to dig into murdered teenager’s family
He posed as an anti-racist activist following the death
Victim’s mother said: ‘Nothing can justify… trying to discredit the family’
Raises further questions about police surveillance of activist groups
David Cameron demands that Scotland Yard investigates the damaging claim

An undercover policeman revealed last night that he took part in an operation to smear the family of Stephen Lawrence.

Peter Francis said his superiors wanted him to find ‘dirt’ that could be used against members of the murdered teenager’s family.

The spy said he was also tasked with discrediting Stephen’s friend who witnessed the stabbing and campaigners angry at the failure to bring his killers to justice.

Spy: Peter Francis said he was asked by senior officers in the Met Police to find information to smear the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence

Worried: The Prime Minister said today that Scotland Yard must investigate the damaging claims

He added that senior officers deliberately withheld his role from Sir William Macpherson, who led a public inquiry into the bungled police investigation.
‘They wanted any intelligence’ Peter Francis on ‘spying’

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NHS chief ‘offered bribe to hush up death of my baby’: Father’s shock at scandal-hit boss’s £3,000 cash deal
The secrets of my friend the Moors murderer: For 25 years he has been visiting Britain’s most notorious killer, now Ian Brady’s only confidant – and heir – reveals all

Francis said senior officers were afraid that anger at the failure to investigate the teenager’s racist killing would spiral into disorder on the streets. They had ‘visions of Rodney King’, whose beating at the hands of police led to the 1992 LA riots, he said.

David Cameron has this morning urged Scotland Yard to launch a probe into what happened.

‘The Prime Minister is deeply concerned by reports that the police wanted to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family and would like the Metropolitan police to investigate immediately,’ A No10 spokesperson said.

The revelations mark the most extraordinary chapter so far in the sorry history of Scotland Yard’s jaw-dropping undercover operations.

Stephen Lawrence was the victim of a racist murder in 1993. It was one of the highest profile racial killings in UK history

The whistleblower is one of several to come forward to reveal deeply suspect practices by those ordered to infiltrate political protest groups from the 1980s onwards.

Yesterday Stephen’s mother Doreen said being targeted by an undercover officer was the most surprising thing she had learned about the marathon inquiry. She said: ‘Out of all the things I’ve found out over the years, this certainly has topped it.

‘Nothing can justify the whole thing about trying to discredit the family and people around us.’

The news will further inflame critics of covert policing of activist groups and raises questions over whether a police review will flush out all malpractice.’

The 20-year-old operation was revealed in a joint investigation by The Guardian and Channel 4’s Dispatches being broadcast tonight.

Francis posed as an anti-racist activist during four years he spent living undercover among protest groups following Stephen’s murder in April 1993.

The former officer said he came under ‘huge and constant pressure’ to ‘hunt for disinformation’ that might be used to undermine those arguing for a better investigation into the murder.

He now wants a full public inquiry into the undercover policing of protest groups, which he labelled ‘morally reprehensible’ in the past.

He said: ‘I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign.

‘They wanted the campaign to stop. It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant. Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns.’

Mr Francis joins a number of whistle blowers who infiltrated protest groups for the Met Police

Francis was also involved in an ultimately failed effort to discredit Duwayne Brooks, a close friend of Lawrence who was with him on the night he was murdered.

The former spy trawled through hours of CCTV from a demonstration to find evidence that led to Mr Brooks being arrested and charged with violent disorder in October 1993. However, the case was thrown out by a judge as an abuse of the legal process.

Family: Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen and ex-husband Neville, Stephen’s father

The spy monitored a number of ‘black justice’ campaigns, involving relatives of mostly black men who had died in suspicious circumstances in police custody.

But he said his handlers were most interested in any information he could gather about the several groups campaigning over the death of Stephen.

Although Francis did not meet the Lawrence family, he passed back ‘hearsay’ about them to his superiors.

Mrs Lawrence said she was always baffled why family liaison officers were recording the identities of everyone entering and leaving their household following her son’s murder.

She said the family had always suspected police had been gathering evidence about her visitors to discredit them but had no ‘concrete evidence’.

In 1997, Francis argued that the Met should ‘come clean’ over the existence of its undercover operation to Sir William and his inquiry.

But commanders opted for secrecy and claimed it was for the public good as there would be ‘battling on the streets’ if the public ever found out.
‘It just makes me really angry’: Doreen Lawrence

Francis was a member of a covert unit known as the Special Demonstration Squad. Set up to combat protests against the Vietnam war in 1968, the SDS was funded by the Home Office to operate under the radar for four decades.

Using the undercover alias Pete Black, he worked between 1993 and 1997 infiltrating a group named Youth Against Racism in Europe.

He said he was one of four undercover officers who were also required to feed back intelligence about the campaigns for justice over the death of Stephen. The now disbanded unit has already been struck by controversy after its spies fathered children with their targets.

An external investigation of past undercover deployments is being undertaken by a team of officers led by Derbyshire chief constable Mick Creedon.

Pete Francis monitored a number of ‘black justice’ campaigns, involving relatives of mostly black men who had died in suspicious circumstances in police custody

Mr Brooks always suspected he was a victim of a dirty tricks campaign by police. In an interview six years after the murder he said he felt the police ‘investigated us more thoroughly than they investigated the boys’ – referring to those behind the killing.

Jack Straw, the former home secretary who in 1997 ordered the inquiry that led to the Macpherson report, said he was stunned.

He said: ‘I should have been told of anything that was current, post the election of Tony Blair’s government in early May 1997. But much more importantly, [the] Macpherson inquiry should have been told.’

Lord Condon, Met Commissioner between 1993 and 2000, said he was not aware any information had been withheld from Sir William.

A Met spokesman said: ‘The claims in relation to Stephen Lawrence’s family will bring particular upset to them and we share their concerns.’

These revelations and others about undercover police officers are contained in the book Undercover by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans.

UNDERCOVER: THE TRUE STORY OF BRITAIN’S SECRET POLICE by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis is published by Guardian Faber at £12.99. Please follow this link to order a copy.

By Chris Greenwood

PUBLISHED: 21:50 GMT, 23 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:12 GMT, 25 June 2013

Find this story at 23 June 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Police ‘smear’ campaign targeted Stephen Lawrence’s friends and family

Exclusive: former undercover officer Peter Francis says superiors wanted him to find ‘dirt’ shortly after 1993 murder

Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in 1993 and whose death has been the subject of a long-running police investigation. Photograph: Rex Features

A police officer who spent four years living undercover in protest groups has revealed how he participated in an operation to spy on and attempt to “smear” the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, the friend who witnessed his fatal stabbing and campaigners angry at the failure to bring his killers to justice.

Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer turned whistleblower, said his superiors wanted him to find “dirt” that could be used against members of the Lawrence family, in the period shortly after Lawrence’s racist murder in April 1993.

He also said senior officers deliberately chose to withhold his role spying on the Lawrence campaign from Sir William Macpherson, who headed a public inquiry to examine the police investigation into the death.

Francis said he had come under “huge and constant pressure” from superiors to “hunt for disinformation” that might be used to undermine those arguing for a better investigation into the murder. He posed as an anti-racist activist in the mid-1990s in his search for intelligence.

“I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign,” Francis said. “They wanted the campaign to stop. It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant.

“Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns.”

Francis also describes being involved in an ultimately failed effort to discredit Duwayne Brooks, a close friend of Lawrence who was with him on the night he was killed and the main witness to his murder. The former spy found evidence that led to Brooks being arrested and charged in October 1993, before the case was thrown out by a judge.
Peter Francis, the former undercover police officer turned whistleblower. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

The disclosures, revealed in a book about undercover policing published this week, and in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Channel 4’s Dispatches being broadcast on Monday, will reignite the controversy over covert policing of activist groups.

Lawrence’s mother, Doreen, said the revelations were the most surprising thing she had learned about the long-running police investigation into her son’s murder: “Out of all the things I’ve found out over the years, this certainly has topped it.”

She added: “Nothing can justify the whole thing about trying to discredit the family and people around us.”

In a statement, the Metropolitan police said it recognised the seriousness of the allegations – and acknowledged their impact. A spokesman said the claims would “bring particular upset” to the Lawrence family and added: “We share their concerns.”

Jack Straw, the former home secretary who in 1997 ordered the inquiry that led to the 1999 Macpherson report, said: “I’m profoundly shocked by this and by what amounts to a misuse of police time and money and entirely the wrong priorities.” Straw is considering personally referring the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Francis was a member of a controversial covert unit known as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). A two-year investigation by the Guardian has already revealed how undercover operatives routinely adopted the identities of dead children and formed long-term sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

The past practices of undercover police officers are the subject of what the Met described as “a thorough review and investigation” called Operation Herne, which is being overseen by Derbyshire’s chief constable, Mick Creedon.

A spokesman said: “Operation Herne is a live investigation, four strands of which are being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and it would be inappropriate to pre-judge its findings.”

Francis has decided to reveal his true identity so he can openly call for a public inquiry into undercover policing of protest. “There are many things that I’ve seen that have been morally wrong, morally reprehensible,” he said. “Should we, as police officers, have the power to basically undermine political campaigns? I think that the clear answer to that is no.”

Francis has been co-operating with the Guardian as a confidential source since 2011, using his undercover alias Pete Black. He assumed the undercover persona between 1993 and 1997, infiltrating a group named Youth Against Racism in Europe. He said he was one of four undercover officers who were also required to feed back intelligence about the campaigns for justice over the death of Lawrence.

Francis said senior officers were afraid that anger at the failure to investigate the teenager’s racist killing would spiral into disorder on the streets, and had “visions of Rodney King”, whose beating at the hands of police led to the 1992 LA riots.

Francis monitored a number of “black justice” campaigns, involving relatives of mostly black men who had died in suspicious circumstances in police custody.

However, he said that his supervising officers were most interested in whatever information he could gather about the large number of groups campaigning over the death of Lawrence.

Although Francis never met the Lawrence family, who distanced themselves from political groups, he said he passed back “hearsay” about them to his superiors. He said they wanted information that could be used to undermine the campaign.

One operation Francis participated in involved coming up with evidence purporting to show Brooks involved in violent disorder. Francis said he and another undercover police officer trawled through hours of footage from a May 1993 demonstration, searching for evidence that would incriminate Brooks.

Police succeeded in having Brooks arrested and charged with criminal damage, but the case was thrown out by a judge as an abuse of the legal process. Francis said the prosecution of Brooks was part of a wider drive to damage the growing movement around Lawrence’s death: “We were trying to stop the campaign in its tracks.”

Doreen Lawrence said that in 1993 she was always baffled about why family liaison officers were recording the identities of everyone entering and leaving their household. She said the family had always suspected police had been gathering evidence about her visitors to discredit the family.

“We’ve talked about that several times but we never had any concrete [evidence],” she said.

There is no suggestion that the family liaison officers knew the purpose of the information they collected.

Francis claims that the purpose of monitoring people visiting the Lawrence family home was in order “to be able to formulate intelligence on who was going into the house with regards to which part of the political spectrum, if any, they were actually in”. The former policeman added: “It would determine maybe which way the campaign’s likely to go.”

In 1997, Francis argued that his undercover operation should be disclosed to Macpherson, who was overseeing the public inquiry into the Met’s handling of the murder. “I was convinced the SDS should come clean,” he said.

However his superiors decided not to pass the information on to the inquiry, he said. He said he was told there would be “battling on the streets” if the public ever found out about his undercover operation.

Straw said that neither he nor Macpherson were informed about the undercover operations. “I should have been told of anything that was current, post the election of Tony Blair’s government in early May 1997,” he said.

“But much more importantly, [the] Macpherson inquiry should have been told, and also should have been given access to the results of this long-running and rather expensive undercover operation.”

Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
The Guardian, Monday 24 June 2013

Find this story at 24 June 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

Stephen Lawrence evidence was mislabelled, trial told

Forensic science workers made series of mistakes handling evidence relating to one of original murder suspects

Stephen Lawrence trial: mistakes were made in the handling of crucial evidence. Photograph: PA

A police forensic science worker made a series of mistakes in handling evidence relating to one of two men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence, the Old Bailey heard on Wednesday .

Yvonne Turner, a forensic science assistant, put the wrong case number on a jacket belonging to Gary Dobson, who was a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Lawrence in April 1993. She went on to wrongly record that no tapings of fibres had been taken from the jacket – a yellow and grey bomber jacket – and a cardigan belonging to Dobson.

Evidence secured from the cardigan and jacket belonging to Dobson as a result of advances in science, and from trousers and a sweatshirt belonging to David Norris, are key to the crown’s case that the two men were in a group of white youths who attacked Lawrence 18 years ago.

The jury at the Old Bailey was told yesterday that exhibits relating to five suspects – including Norris, Dobson, and two other men not on trial, Jamie and Neil Acourt – were all stored together in 1993 in a disused cell at Eltham police station.

Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny murder. They claim their clothes became contaminated with blood, hair and textile fibres belonging to Lawrence while being stored and handled by the police and forensic scientists.

Working out of a laboratory in Lambeth, south London, Turner had been asked to examine a jacket belonging to Dobson in October 1993. But she wrote a case number relating to a robbery case she was also working on, at the top of the paperwork for the jacket.

“I wasn’t concentrating and I wasn’t focused at the stage when I wrote the case number in, but I’ve clearly got to grips with the case as I’ve written the correct item number,” Turner told the jury.

The court heard she also marked “no tapings” for fibres had been taken from Dobson’s jacket, even though they had.

Turner, who had been working in forensic science full-time for seven years by 1993, made the same mistake with Dobson’s cardigan. She then admitted there had subsequently been “difficulty locating the tapings as they had been annotated with the incorrect case number”.

The scientist, who now runs her own company as a trainer and consultant in forensic science, said she was unable to say when the exhibits were taped for fibres. Her mistakes on the case notes were corrected before 1995 when her work was reviewed.

Detective Constable Robert Crane told the jury that the homes of five suspects, including Norris, Dobson, the Acourts and a fifth unnamed man, were searched in simultaneous dawn raids on 7 May 1993, 15 days after Lawrence was killed.

Crane, who had responsibility for all the items of clothing seized and items belonging to Lawrence, said that some items such as the teenager’s rucksack were stored on a bed inside a disused cell at Eltham police station.

The exhibits from the suspects were placed on the floor of the same cell, either in boxes or large rubbish sacks, he said. But he said he did not mix them up.

The case continues.

• The headline on this article was amended on 24 November 2011. The original headline said: Stephen Lawrence evidence was mislabelled by police, trial told. The mislabelling was done by a forensic scientist.

Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 23 November 2011 21.53 GMT

Find this story at 23 November 2011

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

The Police’s Dirty Secret: Channel 4 Dispatches

Paul Lewis reports on allegations that members of a clandestine Metropolitan unit employed ethically dubious tactics, including inappropriate sexual relationships and deceit, to spy on people – claims apparently substantiated by the personal testimony of a whistleblower who operated undercover for four years. The programme investigates the actions of those tasked with infiltrating political campaigns and protest groups, and speaks to the women who say they were duped into intimate relationships with men they didn’t know were serving police officers.

Find this story at july 2013

Exclusive: Doreen Lawrence pledges to condemn ‘racial profiling’ spot checks in the House of Lords

Equalities watchdog says it will investigate the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to ‘Nazi Germany’

The Home Office faces investigation by the equalities watchdog over stop-and-check operations condemned by new Labour peer Doreen Lawrence.

The Independent revealed today that officials had conducted a series of “racist and intimidatory” spot checks to search for illegal immigrants in the wake of the Government’s “go home or face arrest” campaign.

Officers wearing stab vests conducted random checks near stations in the London suburbs of Walthamstow, Kensal Green, Stratford and Cricklewood over the past three days. Nationwide, more than 130 alleged “immigration offenders” have been arrested including in Durham, Manchester and Somerset.

Speaking this morning Mrs Lawrence said: “Why would you focus mainly on people of colour?

”I’m sure there’s illegal immigrants from all countries, but why would you focus that on people of colour, and I think racial profiling is coming into it.“

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, asked if the spot-checks were a cause for her to take up in her new role in the House of Lords, replied: ”Definitely so.“

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, said she had received reports from constituents who had been stopped at around 7am yesterday outside the train station by a team of around a dozen Home Office officials.

“I’ve been told they were only stopping people who looked Asian or African and not anyone who was white,” she said. “This kind of fishing expedition in public place is entirely unacceptable. I will not have my constituents treated in such a manner.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is now set to look into what happened, as well as the Government’s controversial poster van warning immigrants of the risk of staying in Britain illegally.

A spokesman said: ”The Commission is writing today to the Home Office about these reported operations, confirming that it will be examining the powers used and the justification for them, in order to assess whether unlawful discrimination took place.

“The letter will also ask questions about the extent to which the Home Office complied with its public sector equality duty when planning the recent advertising campaign targeted at illegal migration.”

The Home Office denied that its raids were connected to the “go home” vans. However, officials could provide no evidence of similar “random searches” taking place in the past.

Onlookers described their shock at the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to “Nazi Germany”. The Labour MP Barry Gardiner had written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, demanding an investigation into the checks which he said violated “fundamental freedoms”. The raids come just a few months after Ms May took direct responsibility for immigration from the disbanded UK Border Agency.

“We do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers,” Mr Gardiner wrote. “The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.”

Witnesses who saw the operations in London claimed the officers stopped only non-white individuals, and in Kensal Green said that when questioned, the immigration officials became aggressive.

Phil O’Shea told the Kilburn Times: “They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work. When I queried what was going on, I was threatened with arrest for obstruction and was told to ‘crack on’.”

Another witness, Matthew Kelcher, said: “Even with the confidence of a free-born Englishman who knows he has nothing to hide, I found this whole experience to be extremely intimidating. They said they were doing random checks, but a lot of people who use that station are tourists so I don’t know what message that sends out to the world.”

The Home Office said a Ukrainian woman aged 33, an Indian man aged 44 and a 59-year-old Brazilian woman had been detained as part of the checks at Kensal Green. At Walthamstow Central station, immigration officials arrested 14 people after officers questioned people to check if they were in the UK illegally.

Christine Quigley tweeted: “Sounds like UKBA checkpoint today in Walthamstow only stopping minority ethnic people. FYI UKBA – not all British people are white.”

In Stratford, photographs posted on Twitter appeared to show Home Office officials talking to men of Asian origin. The Home Office said a Bangladeshi man had been arrested on suspected immigration offences. In Cricklewood on Tuesday in a joint operation with the Met, more than 60 people were questioned near the railway station. Police said three men were arrested for “immigration matters”, and 27 men received notices requiring them to surrender at Eaton House immigration centre for further investigation.

Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said he believed that there was no coincidence between the “go home or face arrest” van and the new random checks in Kensal Green. “I am sure it is probably connected and it leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth,” he said. “These so-called spot checks are not only intimidating but they are also racist and divisive. It appears from speaking to people who witnessed what happened in Kensal Green that it was only black and Asian-looking people who were asked to prove their identity. What about the white Australians and New Zealanders who may have overstayed their visas?”

Oliver Wright, Adam Withnall
Friday, 2 August 2013

Find this story at 2 August 2013

© independent.co.uk

Misuse of stop and search powers risks undermining police, says watchdog

Police watchdog report says many forces do not understand how to use powers effectively nor their potential impact

Home Office figures show that black people are still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people. Photograph: Stuart emmerson/Alamy

The misuse of “intrusive and contentious” stop and search powers is threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the police, an official watchdog has warned.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says that most (30) of the 43 forces in England and Wales do not understand how to use stop and search powers effectively nor the impact their use has on the communities being policed.

The official report also says that the priority given by senior police officers to improving the use of stop and search powers has slipped down the agenda since the publication in 1999 of the official inquiry report into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Home Office figures show that black people are still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people.

The HMIC report, published on Tuesday, was commissioned by the home secretary, Theresa May, in response to renewed concern about the way the police use stop and search powers in the wake of the 2011 August riots.

The home secretary anticipated one of the report’s key findings last week when she launched a six-week consultation over the future use of the powers, saying the fact that only 9% of the 1.2m stop-and-searches that take place every year led to an arrest had caused her to question whether it was being used appropriately.

The HMIC inquiry, which included a public survey of 19,000 people, found that too many forces are not collecting sufficient information to assess whether the use of the powers has been effective.

It says that 27% of the 8,783 stop-and-search records examined by HMIC did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the powers.

“The reasons for this include poor understanding among officers about what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds’ needed to justify a search, poor supervision, and an absence of direction and oversight by senior officers,” says the report.

The report adds that fewer than half the forces complied with a requirement for stop and search activities to be open to public scrutiny.

It describes the street stop and search powers under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) as “some of the most intrusive and contentious powers granted to the police” and warns that although some might think it will help to “control the streets” in the short term, its heavy-handed use may lead to major disorder in the long term.

Stephen Otter of HMIC said urgent action was needed to tackle the lack of understanding of the powers to prevent and detect crime. He said the investigation found that the exercise, recording, monitoring, supervision and leadership oversight of the use of stop and search powers all too often fell short of the Pace codes of practice, which set the standards to ensure the powers were not used unlawfully and incorrectly.

Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said: “The police service in the UK is almost unique in investing its lowest ranking officers with its greatest and most intrusive powers. These include those of stop and search.

“The lawful and proper use of the powers is essential to the maintenance of public confidence and community acceptance of the police, without which the British model of policing by consent cannot function.

“It is therefore crucial that police officers can show, with the greatest transparency, that they use these powers with the utmost lawfulness and integrity at all times,” said Winsor.

A Home Office spokesperson said the home secretary had made clear that the government supports the ability of police officers to stop and search suspects within the law.

“But if stop and search is being used too much or with the wrong people, it is not just a waste of police time, it also serves to undermine public confidence in the police,” he said.

He added that specific proposals in response to the report and the public consultation would be published by the end of the year.

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
The Guardian, Tuesday 9 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

A quarter of police stop and searches are illegal: 250,000 people are stopped without officers sticking to the rules

In 27 per cent of cases police did not have reasonable grounds
This is the same as 250,000 people every year being stopped and searched
The report warns of the potential to stir-up significant social unrest

More than a quarter of police stop and searches are ‘unlawful’ and risk promoting ‘major disorder’, government inspectors warned last night.

In a blistering report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary said that, in 27 per cent of cases, police failed to show they had reasonable grounds to carry out the search.

It is the equivalent of 250,000 people every year being stopped and subjected to hugely intrusive searches without the police sticking to the rules.

In 27 per cent of cases, police failed to show they had reasonable grounds to carry out the searches

Legally, nobody should be stopped unless there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ they are guilty of carrying drugs, weapons or intending to carry out a burglary or other crime.

The report – commissioned in the wake of the 2011 riots – warns of the potential to stir-up significant social unrest.

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It states: ‘Apart from the fact that it is unlawful, conducting stop and search encounters without reasonable grounds will cause dissatisfaction and upset, and whilst some may think it will help to ‘control the streets in the short term’, it may lead to major disorder in the long-term’.

The HMIC report, led by ex-chief constable Stephen Otter, is also hugely critical of the way police are targeting their resources.

Most police forces said their priorities were reducing burglary, theft and violence.

Yet only nine per cent of stop and searches focussed on finding weapons, and 22 per cent were for stolen property or going equipped to steal.

By contrast, half of operations were targeted on possession of drugs – usually only small amounts which would only result in a police warning.

Theresa May warned that police could be wasting hundreds of thousands of hours by interrogating stopping people who had done nothing wrong

The report will increase the clamour for a major scaling back of the stop and search regime.

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May warned that police could be wasting hundreds of thousands of hours by interrogating stopping people who had done nothing wrong.

Last year, police conducted 1.2million stop and searches – but only nine per cent, or 107,000, ended in arrest.

In some parts of the country, the figure is as low as three per cent, raising huge question marks over whether the power is being properly used.

The HMIC warned of a ‘noticeable slippage’ in attention given to the use of stop and search powers by senior officers since the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

Mr Otter warned that use of the powers was becoming a ‘habitual’ practice

Around 27 per cent of the 8,783 stop and search records examined by inspectors did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the power.

Police officers are able to conduct stop and searches under 20 different powers, but the most common laws used are the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

The report found that less than half of forces complied with the requirements of the code to make arrangements for stop and search records to be scrutinised by the public.

And half of forces did nothing to understand the impact on communities.

The inspection found that the majority of forces – 30 out of 43 – had not developed an understanding of how to use the powers of stop and search so that they are effective in preventing and detecting crime.

Only seven forces recorded whether or not the item searched for was actually found, the study found.

Mr Otter warned that use of the powers was becoming a ‘habitual’ practice that was ‘part and parcel’ of officers’ activity on the streets.

Last night a Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Secretary has made it very clear that the Government supports the ability of police officers to stop and search suspects within the law.
‘But if stop and search is being used too much or with the wrong people, it is not just a waste of police time, it also serves to undermine public confidence in the police.

‘That is why last week the Home Secretary announced a public consultation into the use of stop and search.

‘The Government will respond to the HMIC report and the replies to the public consultation with specific proposals by the end of the year.’

By James Slack

PUBLISHED: 00:03 GMT, 9 July 2013 | UPDATED: 06:30 GMT, 9 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Police watchdog: the Met is failing to tackle complaints of racism

Warning: IPCC says racism complaints are being thrown out on the basis of an officers denial of them

The Met is failing to tackle complaints of racism properly and needs a major “cultural change” to improve the way it deals with London’s minorities, the police watchdog said today.

In a highly critical report, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said that Met investigators were often wrongly rejecting allegations of racism simply on the basis of an officer’s denial.

It warns that other complaints are being thrown out because of the “unwillingness or inability” of officers to pursue them and highlights a further widespread failure to follow official guidelines when investigating alleged racist conduct.

The report said that instead, the force tends to respond only to “overt” racism such as use of “n****r” and when other evidence such as mobile phone footage or whistleblower testimony is provided.

The findings, which will raise concerns about the force’s progress since being labelled “institutionally racist” in Sir William Macpherson’s report following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, came as the watchdog also revealed details of new racism cases within the Met. Today’s report discloses that:

Two thirds of appeals over racism complaints rejected by the Met were upheld by the watchdog last year.

The Met has little understanding of covert or subconscious racism by officers.

Complainants’ perceptions of racism are often not taken seriously.

Letters sent to complainants are regularly blighted by jargon, are defensive and fail to deal with specifics.

Unveiling today’s report, Deborah Glass, the IPCC’s commissioner for London, said that racism remained a “toxic” issue for the Met and that big changes were urgently needed.

“There is an enormous amount of guidance out there which the Met’s officers are not following and the only way to change that is through cultural change,” she said. “If the Met Commissioner wants to be credible when he says that there is zero tolerance of racism in the force then his officers need to understand what racism is.”

Ms Glass said that dealing with complaints of racism against officers properly was vital to public confidence in London because of the large ethnic population and the lack of faith among some residents in police attitudes. She added: “Race is an incredibly sensitive and sometimes toxic issue for the Met as we have seen over decades. They have made progress, but there is still some way to go.”

The report comes after a year-long inquiry by the IPCC following a spate of highly publicised racism allegations against the Met. One of those resulted in the dismissal of Pc Alex MacFarlane for gross misconduct despite his acquittal at Southwark crown court last year over an alleged racially aggravated public order offence involving the alleged use of racist language against a 21-year-old man.

The report is based on an analysis of 511 racist allegations against Met officers or staff made by the public in 2011/12, plus monitoring of 61 cases referred to the IPCC in April and May last year and a detailed study of 20 other complaint files.

It found that although cases passed to Scotland Yard’s directorate of professional standards were generally dealt with well, those resolved at borough level — which form the majority — were poorly handled.

The report said that officers were “routinely asked for brief accounts via email” rather than being questioned on specifics and that a denial frequently resulted in a complaint being rejected with not enough weight placed on the complainant’s account.

Met Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said that he was summoning all 32 borough commanders and other senior officers to study the findings in one of a series of measures to improve the force’s performance.

He added that all investigations into racism complaints would also be overseen by Scotland Yard for the rest of the year to raise standards, but conceded that the Met was failing the public over the issue. Victims of racism by police will also be invited to meet senior officers to talk about their experiences to “help our understanding” of the problem, Mr Byrne said.

Martin Bentham

Published: 17 July 2013

Updated: 15:41, 17 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© Evening Standard Limited

Police continued to fire Tasers at chests – despite cardiac arrest warnings

Figures show that since 2009, 57% of discharges have hit chest area, even though Taser warns of ‘serious complications’

Police using a taser during the attempted capture of Raoul Moat. Firing the devices at suspects’ chests carries the risk of inducing a cardiac arrest. Photograph: Jamie Wiseman/Daily Mail/Rex

British police have fired Tasers hundreds of times at suspects’ chests despite explicit warnings from the weapon’s manufacturer not to do so because of the dangers of causing a cardiac arrest, the Guardian can reveal.

Following the death last Wednesday of a man in Manchester after police hit him with a Taser shot, figures obtained from 18 out of 45 UK forces show that out of a total of 884 Taser discharges since 2009 – the year when Taser International first started warning the weapon’s users not to aim for the chest – 57% of all shots (518) have hit the chest area.

There is evidence that shots to the chest can induce cardiac arrest. Dr Douglas Zipes, an eminent US cardiologist and emeritus professor at Indiana University, who last year published a study that explored the dangers of chest shots, told the Guardian: “My admonition [to UK police] would be avoid the chest at all costs if you can.”

He said the proportion of shots landing on the chest was huge, adding: “I think the information is overwhelming to support how a Taser shot to the chest can produce cardiac arrest.”

The manufacturer’s warning in its training materials is clear. It states: “When possible, avoid targeting the frontal chest area near the heart to reduce the risk of potential serious injury or death.

“Serious complications could also arise in those with impaired heart function or in those with an implanted cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator.”

Firing at the back is the preferred option where practical.

Zipes said Tasers were first found to have the ability to “capture” heart rhythm in a way similar to that of a pacemaker after Taser itself commissioned a study on pigs published in 2006.

If fired close enough to the heart, the 50,000 volt weapons have the ability to interfere and take over the electrical signals in the heart in rare cases – something that can be avoided altogether by hitting other parts of the body.

Zipes, who has acted as an expert witness in Taser death cases, said his peer-reviewed paper for the Journal of the American Heart Association documented eight cases of people in the US who have died or suffered significant brain damage following a cardiac arrest linked to a Taser shot.

But, despite the apparent dangers of chest shots, a series of requests under the Freedom of Information Act suggests that police are routinely aiming Taser shots at that part of the body.

Records from Gwent police force, for example, show that 82% of 55 Taser discharges by its officers hit people in the chest. Officers from Lancashire police fired Tasers 186 times between 2009 and October 2012, with 65% of shots hitting the chest.

There have been 10 deaths since the introduction of Tasers by UK police forces in 2004. The most recent was last Wednesday evening after a 23-year-old factory worker, Jordan Begley, from Gorton, east Manchester, was said to have suffered a “medical episode” and died after police fired at him with the weapon.

The chief constable of Greater Manchester, Sir Peter Fahy, and its police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd, met the dead man’s family and expressed their condolences.

No cause of death has been directly linked to the high-voltage charge emanating from the weapons in the UK. But two of the 10 cases, including last week’s death in Manchester, continue to be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which is responsible for Taser guidance, told the Guardian that following the 2009 warning, an independent panel of experts re-examined the threat to life from Tasers but found no substantial risk.

Simon Chesterman, deputy chief constable of West Mercia police and Acpo lead on armed policing and Taser use, said that after the 2009 Taser warning Acpo asked the medical panel whether police training needed to be changed. “The answer that came back is that as they’ve said all along, the risk from the electricity is very low,” he said.

Chesterman said the panel had maintained that guidance to this day and it was felt there was no need for police “to adjust our point of aim”.

He said: “We don’t train them [officers] to go for the chest, we just train them to go for the biggest thing they can see, ie the major muscle groups.

“When you’ve got a violent assailant who is facing you, coming towards you and you have to make a split second decision whether to use Taser or not, the chances are that clearly you’re going to aim for the torso and it may well be that one or both of the barbs will attach within the chest area.

“I’m not saying Taser is a risk-free option,” he said, but added: “We haven’t had what you could describe as a Taser-related death in the United Kingdom – that’s despite the fact that we’ve been using them for 10 years”

A separate FOI from February found that in 2011 Tasers were discharged 1,371 times in the year ending March 2011, a 66% rise on the previous year.

In a statement to the Guardian, Steve Tuttle, vice-president of communications for Taser International, said that in the vast majority of cases, “the cause of death has nothing to do with the Taser deployments and to date in the UK there are no deaths in which the Taser has been listed as the cause of death”.

He said the company’s “preferred targeting zones” were “best practices” that “take into consideration the most effective areas for placement on moving and/or violent subjects that don’t always co-operate.

“We occasionally modify recommendations and warnings to reflect a best practices approach for our customers to consider,” he added. “The release of our [2009] training bulletin should not be interpreted as a significant change in how our products should be used. The recommendations should be viewed as best practices that mitigate risk management issues resulting in more effective deployments while maximising safety considerations such as avoiding face, neck, and chest/breast shots.”

In the US, Taser was recently ordered to pay $5m (£3.3m) to the family of 17-year-old Darryl Turner, who died in 2008 after being shot by police with a Taser.

The lawyer in that case, John Burton, from Pasedena, California, said that by aiming for the chest, UK police were being irresponsible.

“This is just so irresponsible. I’m shocked to hear this,” Burton said. “If UK cops are shooting people in the chest it just shows that they just don’t take things seriously.”

Sophie Khan, a UK solicitor who specialises in Taser cases, said Taser’s guidance “is meant to be there to protect the public and the police from civil claims”.

She added: “From what I see people are being shot in the chest and stomach, when they don’t even need to be Tasered in the first place, that’s what’s happened.”

Shiv Malik and Charlie Mole
The Guardian, Sunday 14 July 2013 19.43 BST

Find this story at 14 July 2013

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies

Man shot with Taser dies; Electroshock weapon used on suspect during arrest in Manchester

A woman arrives with flowers at the scene in Gorton, Manchester, where a man was shot with a Taser and later died. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

A man has died after police shot him with a Taser, Greater Manchester police have said.

The 23-year-old was said to have suffered a “medical episode” and died after police fired at him with the stun gun.

Officers were responding to a disturbance at around 8.15pm on Wednesday in Gorton, Manchester, when they used the Taser while detaining the man.

The police force has referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “Police received a 999 call reporting a disturbance on Beard Road in Gorton where there was a man with a knife.

“Officers were dispatched immediately and arrived in eight minutes. On arrival a Taser was discharged to detain a 23-year-old man.

“At this time it is unclear what happened, but at some point afterwards the man suffered a medical episode.

“Paramedics performed first aid on the man at the scene before he was taken to hospital where he sadly died.”

The death had been referred to the local coroner and police family liaison officers were supporting the family, police said.

Press Association
theguardian.com, Thursday 11 July 2013 06.50 BST

Find this story at 11 July 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.