Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sitting in the Spycops Priority Area

Further to the last post about police authorisation documents for Mark Kennedy's deployment for the Drax coal train action in 2008, there is a page in that sheaf by Anton Setchell, who was then the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE).

This was the person with oversight of three political policing units - Kennedy's National Public Order Intelligence Unit, the corporate advisory National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, and the National Domestic Extremism Team (if the tangle of units dizzies your brain, see this post).

That Setchell took the time to hand write a side of A4 just to be supportive of the renewal of Kennedy's deployment is significant. When they try to make out that Kennedy was some sort of rogue officer cut adrift, or lost in the murk of a shady unit nobody knew about, remember this detailed level of knowledge, oversight and approval from an Assistant Chief Constable.

I have today been briefed by [redacted] on this operation prior to it being forwarded to ACC Sampson [Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police John Sampson who gave authorisation for Kennedy’s deployment on the Drax coal train protest].

My role is not that of authorising officer, but as NCDE, to have the opportunity to comment on this deployment prior to the AO [authorising officer] reviewing the authority.

This operation has now had an SIO [senior investigating officer] appointed to help oversee it – [redacted]. The [redacted] aspect now has an investigative strategy developed which will seek to exploit evidential opportunities when they arise (amongst other things). 

[redacted] has reviewed this operation and some recommendations in his report (to be distributed soon) will be considered by [redacted], the SIO and the AO in due course.

This operation/deployment is focused on key areas of Domestic Extremism which I can say sit in the ‘priority area’ of DE for England and Wales and without this asset in place, our intelligence picture would be significantly reduced and I would seek to replace this asset very quickly to regain our understanding of the intentions of the DE groups that are listed.

I recommend that the authority continues.

Anton Setchell – National Co-ordinator DE

The authorisation for Kennedy's deployment on the Drax coal train action says it may lead to

involving Source [Kennedy] in actions connected to Climate Camp where the threat to the public is greater.

Yet the first official report into the spycops scandal was unequivocal about who Kennedy and his unit targeted. It said they

were not individuals engaging in peaceful protest, or even people who were found to be guilty of lesser public order offences. They were individuals intent on perpetrating acts of a serious and violent nature against citizens going about their everyday lives.

This is, by any measure, complete fucking horseshit.

Throw bricks or don't, it makes no odds as to whether your group is targeted as a threat by police. This could scarcely be more starkly illustrated by the Drax train action with its impeccable health and safety considerations, and Climate Camp which, try as they may, police couldn't get a riot out of, nonetheless finding themselves in the 'priority area' for the police's most intensive and intrusive infiltration. Meanwhile, a leaked email from Setchell's successor, Adrian Tudway, says that the English Defence League are not even considered extremists.

This is surprising not just because of the lack of threat to life and limb from Climate Camp, to some extent it's also what was represented politically. The primary target for 2007's Climate Camp had been Heathrow's proposed third runway, a plan that was scrapped in May 2010.

The Climate Camps at Drax and Kingsnorth were, like the Drax 29, trying to stop a new generation of new coal fired power stations. This is something that also became settled policy soon afterwards with the dropping of plans for a new station at Kingsnorth in October 2010, ending the age of new coal power in the UK.

In a peculiar twist, the announcement of the Kingsnorth plans being dropped came on 20 October 2010, the very day that Mark Kennedy was confronted and exposed. When that sort of thing is put in a film we think it's over contrived and wouldn't happen in real life.

In another, more predictable, turn of events Anton Setchell is now Head of Global Security for Laing O' Rourke, one of the construction firms involved in the illegal construction industry blacklist, which was illegally assisted by National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit when it was under Setchell's command.

Rather than the terrifying 'threat to the public' that Kennedy's managers depicted, with the abandoning of airport expansion and new coal facilities Climate Camp can now be seen, by results, as heralds of the new orthodoxy.

There was a lot more radical intent behind Climate Camp politically, of course. It was always explicitly anti-capitalist, a position that seemed wackier when it started in 2006 but, since the crash of 2008, is another position that's proven itself more level-headed than its opponents. Yet, as the police response to fracking protests shows, such groups still 'sit in the priority area'.

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