Tuesday, August 25, 2009

climate camp's cross-dressing cops

The police are very much on the backfoot now they're widely believed to be over-reactive, intimidating and violent.

Half of UK adults think that policing of environmental protests is too heavy handed or involves too many officers, according to a YouGov poll of over 2,000 people conducted on behalf of Christian Aid.

Of those surveyed, 18% said they were put off joining protests in future because of their fears about how demonstrations are handled and 33% said that filming protesters is an invasion of privacy.

In response, the police are engaging in - to use a Mandelsonism - an attempt at political cross-dressing. Police say they'll be using 'community style' policing at this week's Climate Camp in London.

Chris Allinson, head of central operations at the Metropolitan Police, said around 500 officers will be needed everyday to police the camp.

Which community gets one officer for every two or three civilians? The only one I can think of is prison.

“Every cop on an event is a cop who is not one the streets policing London,” he added.

Couldn't have put it better myself. Aren't there any incidences of mugging, domestic violence or child abuse in London that might be worthy of their attention?

And even as he talks his cuddly community policing guff, Assistant Commissioner Allison refuses to rule out kettling.

All this comes as the Climate Camp activists suing the police for the G20 reveal that police notebooks admit punching protesters in the face and smacking them with the edges of shields, and in the week where the Home Office said the police could be issued with a new higher-powered taser, the weapon used to threaten sleeping climate camp protesters in April. They're going to have to work harder if they be convincing in their new teddy bear persona.

Why are the Camp having to sue? When there is such clear evidence of assault why are the officers who beat people not disciplined, sacked and publicly prosecuted? Why is the officer who planned and ordered the attacks at the G20 not named and imprisoned?

This closing of ranks is proof that the new touchy-feely stuff is just crass window dressing. If they turn on the charm to the media then people will think it's all OK now, and they can avoid any real reform and get back to intimidation and breaking heads.

So, unconvinced that the police's Twitter account marks any change in principles, Climate Camp responded with an open letter to the police, and for good measure made it into a wry pisstakey infomercial.

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