"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Police Monitoring

PC Simon Harwood Trial Opens Tomorrow For #IanTomlinson Killing.

10am Monday 18 June 2012
Southwark Crown Court, 1 English Grounds, London, SE1 2HU

PC Simon Harwood is on trial starting tomorrow for allegedly causing the death of Ian Tomlinson. You’ll notice we’re choosing our words carefully. We don’t want to help his defense do we…

It’s apparent there is nothing in the media about it. Why not?

Please send your messages of support to the family via iantomlinsonfamilycampaign@gmail.com. They’ve had to cope with all manner of lies and attempted cover up’s since 1 April 2009.

Please attend the trial if you can and get behind the family.

Anyone unaware of the events can read some detail here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Ian_Tomlinson

The family support web page is here http://www.iantomlinsonfamilycampaign.org.uk/

All the best from us and much love to Julia, Paul, Richard and all the Tomlinson girls. Fingers crossed you finally get some justice.


United Families And Friends #UFFC-National Fathers Day Vigils to Remember All That Have Died in Custody

UFFC Press Release 

A number of peaceful vigils will be taking place around the country on the same date and time in remembrance of fathers that have died in various forms of custody.

The vigils were initially triggered by the family of Wayne Hamilton from Sheffield. Wayne, aged 24, was found dead in a Sheffield canal on 16th June 2010. He had been reported missing by his worried family on 11th June when a friend rang them to say the last time he had seen Wayne he was running off with police officers chasing him.

A number of other campaigns and family groupings in other cities have replicated the use of a Father’s Day event to remember those that have died in various forms of custody in the United Kingdom and as a show of national solidarity.

These peaceful vigils will be taking place in Manchester, Birmingham, Central London, Brixton, Tottenham, Sheffield, Slough, High Wycombe and a number of other locations across the country. Not all are confirmed or detailed in the following.

These vigils will take place on 17th June 2012 between 12noon to 3pm

The events are supported by The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC).

UFFC is a national coalition of families affected by deaths in police, prison, psychiatric and immigration custody or detention.

Context to the vigils:

Campaigns demanding justice for those who have died in police and other custody joined forces to launch an ambitious petition on 20th January 2012 calling for major changes in the criminal justice system. The petition demands the replacement of the Independent Police Complaints Commission with a body genuinely independent of the police, and the suspension of officers involved in deaths in custody for the duration of any investigation.

Other demands include automatic prosecutions of officers following unlawful killing verdicts and the right to non-means tested legal aid for the families of those who die.

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody report published in 2011 states: in total, there were 5,998 deaths recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010. This is an average of 545 deaths per year. Despite the fact there have been 11 unlawful killing verdicts since 1990 there has never been a successful prosecution

Family statements:

Saqib Deshmukh, Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah said; We have joined other campaigns that are marking Father’s Day so people can understand what impact a death in custody can have on families and in particular children. Habib’s own children and in particular his oldest daughter have been active in the campaign and we have worked hard to make sure that they are involved and they get the answers to why he died and see justice being done.

Tippa Naphtali, Mikey Powell Campaign & 4WardEver UK said;This has got to stop. Family campaigners need to take matters into our hands in a manner more unprecedented than anything seen before. We need to adopt intelligent and collaborative responses, working with a single vision and strategy.

Jan Butler Mother of Lloyd Butler said; My son died whilst in the ‘care’ of the police on 4th August 2010. You cannot change some things; you cannot turn back the clock. In life there is a certain guarantee that we all one by one will some day die, but as a mother you do not expect to bury your children first. I am going to take part and share my support with other families and friends whose loved one has died in custody – the fight goes on.

Susan Alexander, Mother of Azelle Rodney said; It is now approaching 8 years since my son Azelle Rodney was killed by the Met Police in April 2005, shot 7 times in the face, neck and back. Over the years we have cried, campaigned, walked alongside hundreds of other bereaved families and often alone seeking answers, the truth and justice. We are now entering into a public inquiry (September 2012). The Fathers Day Vigil is another opportunity to show a united front… we’ve got to keep moving on.

Gail Hadfield Grainger, partner of Anthony Grainger said; Fathers day is for all the families to stand together and be counted as one, also to bring all the people who are fighting for their loved ones in the media to keep the momentum going in the public eye, and to help prevent things like this happening over and over again. We want to push to be the change in society that we all need. Justice for one, justice for all.

Sheila Sylvester, Mother of Roger Sylvester said; I am surprised to know that the police and the state are still killing people! Change was supposed to come since Roger’s death, but in the past 12 years nothing has really changed. The system should be ashamed of itself! You have to have a lot of money to fight these cases, but all you get is an Inquest, and nothing comes out of an Inquest.

Charlie Williams, BirminghamStrong Justice 4 All said; We will be supporting this event while we continue to support all families’ campaigns across the UK by building the public awareness of deaths in custody.

Facebook details for some of the vigils:

Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah: High Wycombe Police Station – 12 to 3pm


Justice for Philmore Mills: Slough Police Station – 12 to 3pm


Justice4Grainger: Manchester Piccadilly Gardens – 12 to 3pm


Birmingham West Midlands Police HQ – Lloyd House, Birmingham – 12 to 3pm


Azelle Rodney Campaign: London, Scotland Yard – 12 midday


Ricky Bishop Campaign: London, Brixton Police Station – 12 to 3pm


Notes to editors:

City of London Corporation: Allow creation of a permanent memorial plaque in memory of #IanTomlinson

Petition Appeal

Why This Is Important

Ian Tomlinson was a newspaper seller who worked in the City of London and was caught up in the heavy handed policing of protests against the G20 summit in London in 2009. As a bystander, he tried to leave the area and in the course of doing so, died after an assault by a Metropolitan Police officer. This officer now faces trial for manslaughter. His family want a permanent memorial plaque at the spot where he died, so that his death is not forgotten.



#UFFC Continues Call For Public Inquiry Into Deaths In Custody

UFFC continues call for public inquiry into deaths in custody [1.5217391304348]

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) are continuing their campaign to call for an independent judicial inquiry into all suspicious deaths in custody.

UFFC, a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who died in psychiatric and immigration detention. It also has members and supporters from campaign groups and advocacy organisations from across the UK.

The issue of deaths in custody were back on the agenda last year when American civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson backed calls for a public inquiry at a press conference  held at Operation Black Vote’s headquarters.

There is further concern following a report published by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody report in 2011 which stated in total, there were 5,998 deaths recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010, an average of 545 deaths per year. Despite the fact there have been 11 unlawful killing verdicts since 1990 there has never been a successful prosecution.

However, UFFC believe these reforms have not addressed the lack of justice in outstanding cases and say that equitable dispensation justice in the UK must be done and be seen to be done if the general public are to enjoy high levels of trust and confidence in the fair administration of justice.

The poor quality and speed of independent investigations conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and an Inquest process that is seriously under resourced, subject to delay and limited in remit and is not fit for purpose. Both critically fail to protect or support the rights of victims or their families.

UFFC’s demands include:

1. Replacement of the IPCC to ensure open robust transparent and thorough investigations from the very outset of police deaths in custody – with a removal of all ex-police officers for it to be a truly independent body.

2. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman should be placed on a statutory footing.

3. Deaths in psychiatric detention and / or of those detained under the Mental Health Act must be subject to a system of properly funded investigation that is completely independent of the Health Service.

4. Officers and officials directly involved in custody deaths are suspended until investigations are completed.

5. Immediate interviewing of officers and all officials concerned with the death.

6. Officers and officials should never be allowed to collude over their evidence and statements of fact.

7. Full and prompt disclosure of information to the families affected.

8. Prosecutions should automatically follow ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts at Inquests and officers responsible for those deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.

9. Implementation of police body cameras and cameras in all police vehicles in the interests of both the officers and the public.

10. There should be an automatic right to non-means tested legal aid for families. There is a lack of funds for family legal representation at Inquests whilst officers and NHS staff get full legal representation from the public purse – this is unbalanced.

The UFFC are encouraging people to sign an online petition to get the government to address the issue of deaths in custody. Click on the link below


Police Exert Control On 26 March Protest.

It was, of course, expected that the TUC would work with the police in the planning of their protest on the 26th March. But the TUC has not stopped at discussing logistics and route planning. For this demonstration the TUC has been co-opted into the entire policing operation, bringing about a whole new level of police control.

Senior TUC stewards are receiving training directly from the Metropolitan police. The police and TUC stewards are sharing communications, and listening in to each other’s radio conversations. The TUC has a ‘pod’, a location in the police operational command centre, so it can play a part in the wider policing operation. In return for such ‘openness’ from the Met, the TUC will be expected to fully cooperate with policing strategy and tactics. In short, TUC stewards are expected to become some sort of temporary police specials for the day.

The role of stewards will be much more than just guiding the march on its agreed route. Senior stewards will share intelligence with the police via their radio communications,
and have agreed strategies on how to bring the police in if ‘trouble-makers’ infiltrate the march. The TUC is also working closely with the police to deliver ‘key messages’ to those
participating in the demonstration.

TUC route stewards are being trained to be a ‘first response’ in a similar way to stewards at football matches. They will alert senior stewards, and thereby the police, to any incidents, including the approach of ‘troublemakers’. They have been instructed to deal with minor incidents – a group of people doing a sit-down protest en route, for example –
on their own in the first instance. If or when the stewards don’t get a positive response, or if things escalate, the police will move in. It appears to be very much a ‘zero tolerance’

In a move that is completely new, the police have even dictated who will provide legal observers on the demo. Approaches from established legal observer groups were turned down by the TUC, who said having legal observers gave ‘the wrong impression’. But when the police suggested that Liberty should do the job, they were more than happy
to go along with it. Liberty have very little legal observing experience, but they too will be helping to plan the police operation, sharing ‘intelligence’, and sitting in police central

Meanwhile, some of the comments made by Asst Comm Lynne Owens suggest the police will not tolerate any protest not under police control. Occupations of public areas by protesters may not be unlawful, but she has pledged regardless to deal with them ‘robustly’. Plans are being made to implement kettles if they are ‘necessary’, and the
police are monitoring social media networks to gain ‘intelligence’. The Met are also on the look-out for the sort of people, ‘anarchists, football hooligans and criminal gangs’ that were ‘responsible’ for violence back in December.

The stance taken by TUC and Liberty is at best naive, and at worst complicit. Protest should be independent and not state controlled. These actions are being justified under the guise of protester safety, but this level of collusion between protest organisers and the police is unprecedented and unjustified. Freedom of expression and assembly is not just about marching from A-B, and by adopting this stance, Liberty and the TUC seem happy to adopt the police’s view of dissent. This is a dangerous step and has to be resisted

For an insight into the policing operation on the day see Lynne Owens evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.



TUC and Liberty undermine independent monitoring of police actions

News Release – for immediate release

The Network for Police Monitoring, a network of experienced protester support organisations , today slammed the decision of the TUC and Liberty to work alongside the Metropolitan police in deploying legal observers on the TUC march to be held on the 26th of this month.

Legal observers have traditionally been fiercely independent of the police, a position which is seen as essential in maintaining the trust and co-operation of protesters and protest groups. Campaigners say the actions of Liberty and the TUC will undermine this position and have long term implications for the effectiveness with which police behaviour can be monitored and challenged through the complaint system and the courts.

“The decision by Liberty to work so closely in partnership with the police shows a complete lack of understanding of the need to monitor the police from an independent perspective,” said Val Swain. “It is a misguided decision which could have serious consequences for those groups who have been working for years to monitor the policing of protest.
“The ability to monitor policing effectively depends on having some distance from the police, and on having the trust of protesters. All of this is inevitably undermined if legal observers form part of the overall policing operation.”
Legal observers have operated at many major demonstrations over the last few decades, including the G20 protests, environmental protests and student demonstrations. They are trained and co-ordinated by a number of legal support groups, including the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG), the Green and Black Cross, and the Network for Police Monitoring .

The TUC appear to have made a u-turn on their decision to have legal observers at all. In the beginning of the year they told the Network for Police Monitoring that they would not be deploying legal observers as it ‘gave the wrong impression’.
“This appears to be the result of an initiative put forward by the Metropolitan police,” said Val Swain “It is hard not to see it as a cynical and manipulative ploy to undermine the role of legal observers that operate independently of the police and have been crucial in highlighting serious police misconduct in the most recent demonstrations. I would urge Liberty to support the work of independent legal observers, and urgently reassess their role in this demonstration.”

Andy Meinke from LDMG said, “We are truly independent and there to support the rights of protesters, much in the way Liberty did when it was founded in the 1930’s. Liberty says they are honoured to accept the Metropolitan Police invitation to provide ‘independent monitoring’. Sadly, Liberty seems to have lost its way.”

Notes to editors

  • The Network for Police Monitoring is an umbrella organisation including Newham Monitoring Project, Climate Camp legal team, FITwatch, Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG), Gaza Demonstrators Support Group, Aldermaston Women’s Group and CAMPACC.
  • Asst Comm Lynne Owens said in evidence to the JCHR yesterday, “We have been, alongside the TUC, engaging with Liberty who are working with us on the planning process. A number of our Liberty colleagues will have access to the intelligence we have in the run up to event, they will be involved in planning of the event with us and based in our specialist operations room, our control room for the event, and they will also have observers working alongside us on the streets, watching how our strategic intentions are put into practice and providing us with advice and guidance post the event.”
  • As well as affecting the flow of information between protester and observer, Liberty’s actions may effectively place future legal observers at risk. Legal observers often operate in tense or confrontational situations, when having the trust of protesters is crucial to their safety as well as their ability to work.
  • The role of legal observers is to ensure protesters are aware of their rights, to gather data on incidents, and to monitor the use of police public order strategies, such as the controversial tactic of kettling or the use of stop and search powers. Legal observers gather witness statements and document police behaviour.
  • The role of legal observers has been crucial in providing evidence for criminal and civil trials, and in raising awareness of misuses and abuses of police power, such as the unlawful stop and search operation at Kingsnorth, and the disproportionate kettling operations at G20 and the student demonstrations.
  • Liberty deployed legal observers in Wapping in the late 1980’s, but have very limited experience of providing legal observers at demonstrations since that date. Unlike other legal support groups, which tend to work in co-operation, Liberty has made no contact with any legal support group.

For further information contact: