Protest policing plans are an “assault” on human rights – campaigners

Civil liberties campaigners have condemned police plans for dealing with demonstrations as an “assault” on human rights.

Arrests on Lambeth Bridge in central London closed by campaigners protesting against government inaction on climate change, 17 November 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

This morning, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published its proposals for future protest policing.

The HMICFRS report was ordered by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, after Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter protests last year. Two days ago, the government published the  Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which aims to give more powers to officers when policing protests. DrillOrDrop report

Matt Parr, from HMICFRS, said:

“The police need to strike the correct balance between the rights of protesters and the rights of others, such as local residents and businesses.

“We found that the police too often do not find the balance between protecting the rights of the protesters and preventing excessive disruption to daily life, which even peaceful protest can sometimes cause.

“We concluded that, with some qualifications, changes to the law would improve police effectiveness, and that the legislation could be framed in a way that is compatible with human rights.”

The report called for improved police intelligence on protests, including use of facial recognition technology.

It replaced the term domestic extremist, previously applied by some forces to anti-fracking campaigners, with “aggravated activists”.

It recommended better coordination of police operations against alleged aggravated activists that travelled “significant distances” to attend and speak at demonstrations. This could be through disruption of travel, arrest, and co-ordination of bail conditions”, the report said.

The policing monitoring group, Netpol, described this as:

“a genuinely alarming public call for the disruption of entirely lawful activities”.

Netpol said the HMICFRS report:

“provides a green light for a renewed expansion of surveillance on political and social movements”.

In a statement, Gracie Bradley, a director of the civil rights group, Liberty, said:

“It’s a primary duty of Government to ensure that our communities are safe and free. But parts of this Bill will facilitate discrimination and undermine protest, which is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. We should all be able to stand up for what we believe in, yet these proposals would give the police yet more powers to clamp down on protest. They risk stifling dissent and making it harder for us to hold the powerful to account.

“While we are still in the grip of a pandemic that has changed all our lives and handed enormous powers to the Government, it is shocking that this executive has chosen now to launch such a broad assault on our rights under the guise of safer communities.

“We must reject the politics of division that the Government is proposing through this Bill and protect each other and our ability to stand up to power.”

The Good Law Project said it had instructed a QC and junior barrister to examine the human rights implications of the bill. Its director, Jolyon Maugham, said:

“The disproportionate measures proposed in the Bill … risk undermining the freedom of assembly and association protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.  

“It should worry us all that the Government has chosen to attack our rights.”

Alanna Byrne, of Extinction Rebellion, said: 

“What is the real issue here? At a time when the country is experiencing anger and frustration about an uncertain future, about racial inequality, about nurses on the front line who are being told to feel thankful they are employed, and environmental destruction, it’s not new police powers that we need but some compassionate leadership from the government. 

“Priti Patel can try and make the UK a protest free zone, but it’s clear that the government is not going to do the right thing without protestors holding them to account so we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They can try to make it a crime to care but they will not stop people from caring.”

Who is an “aggravated activist”?

The HMICFRS report defined aggravated activism as:

“activity that seeks to bring about political or social change but does so in a way that involves unlawful behaviour or criminality, has a negative impact upon community tensions, or causes an adverse economic impact to businesses”

Netpol this would apply to:

“anyone who risks arrest by taking part in a protest, using the kind of direct action of civil disobedience tactics that the government’s proposed new legislation is trying to crack down on. However, it potentially anyone who is also caught up in arrests and accused of unlawful behaviour or criminality – or is simply present when their friends are arrested.”

This provided justification for extensive and better coordinated intelligence gathering on individual campaigners, Netpol said.

The group said HMICFRS’s reference to “adverse economic impact to business” was:

aimed squarely at protecting corporate and business interests against challenges from campaigners over their lack of action on catastrophic climate change, their sales to repressive regimes that disregard human rights, or their undermining of workers rights.

It added:

“every historical campaign – from the suffragist movement to trade unions and equality protests – have involved actions that at the time were considered criminality or unlawful behaviour.

“Under the new definition, everyone who has fought for rights that we now take for granted would have.”

Link to HMICFRS Getting the balance right report

Netpol analysis of the HMICFRS report

28 replies »

  1. Thanks Ruth, for your usual efficient review.

    Will you extend my thanks also to your Netpol contact for their hard work and doing such a thorough job of investigation and comment.

    There’s a lot of information and more documents to look at.

    I think that will be tomorrows task.

    • I will do some more research into the new HMICFRS and Netpol documents, but it seems the walls of the intended prisons are already being defined.

      Some interesting comments there. The incarcerated slaves seem to be celebrating their own lock up slavery and demanding more restrictions on their own behaviour? Unfortunately they seem to want to take the rest of us all down to their deep dark dungeon with them?

      Soon they will be demanding to have their own speech and thoughts curtailed until they dont have to think for themselves?
      Looks like some are already there too?

      They’re on their own in that capacity.

      When the term “domestic terrorist” is being used in the USA for merely voting for DT, the British equivilent want to call Human Rights of free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of thought, and freedom of choice, ‘Aggravated activists’?

      When the term actually precisely defines the HMICFRS own bill and demands?

      Fascinating isnt it, that their demands for further dictatorial brawnwashing would condemn such activities as the Anti Slavery Movement, the Suffragets, the Right to Vote for women, and even the beginning of Christianity in Judea and countless religions worldwide? What will it be next? Curfews? Kangaroo Courts? Stalinist purges? Tanks in the streets? Wrong think? Big Boris? CCP style Social Credit? The new “slave class system”?

      If nothing is done to prevent this HMICFRS bill, then we can all say goodbye to any form of freedom for generations to come.

      Will your children and grandchildren thank you for your efforts in plunging them into totaltarian slavery? Or not?

      And all under the guise of preventing a few protesters showing up the inadequacies of the UK governments lack of real action on the accelerating climate change? The word “overkill” springs to mind, in any way you wish to interpret it.

      When it is the government themselves that have prevented freedom of movement of everyone but themselves for more than a year. Who have been instrumental in the destruction and bankruptcy of many thousands of businesses. Who have destroyed millions of peoples jobs and futures, while paying big corporations billions of tax payers hard earned money without any supervision or public accountability?

      What was that word again? Begins with “Hypo” doesnt it?

      Oh yes.


      • Phil C

        For your to research maybe you should get some new reading materials!

        After reading your ramblings about access & egress from the Horse Hill site none of your supposed expert knowledge proved correct.

        If you believe that if you tell people often enough everyone will believe it. You are sadly mistaken.

        • Whoops! Another calm and collected intelligent basis for discussion MH? Perhaps credibilty is of no appreciable value for such ‘Aggravated fossil fuel industry activists’? Figures.

          Maybe you should actually do your own research MH? Clearly you dont know what you are talking about, on Horse Hill, or the HMICFRS bill if you cant, or wont, do your own necessary research on the matter?

          Come to think of it, I dont recall any evidence from you at all on Horse Hill that was discernable above, or below, the usual grey background noise of uninformed and researchless fossil fuel protagonists.
          Nor a relevant fact or examination of the physics and operation of a swept path analysis or even any knowledge of what it is for that matter.
          Even though there were very clear photographs of exactly why the operator was contravening the County traffic departments regulations and operating conditions of preventing service vehicles from taking up the entire carriageway with LHGV’s.
          Nor did I see any understanding at all from you of how that caused the operator to redesign the entrance splays to enable an articulated vehice to negotiate the poorly designed entrance/egress. Which is precisely what I recommended.

          Funny that?

          However getting back to the subject in hand rather than the usual feint miasma of attempted diversion into old subjects (Where have we seen that before? Hmm….). Lets look at what is your contributon on this subject post says:-

          “There is no infringement of the human right to protest here only to ensure it is done in a orderly manner that does not infringe the human rights of others.
          Without that we could have a civil war on the streets with protestors against protestors & anarchy and a collapse of cival society but maybe the clue is in the name ‘Extinction Rebellion’”

          “No infringement on Human Rights”? No MH, that is entirely wrong. As for “infringement of human rights of others”. When it is the government themselves that have prevented freedom of movement of everyone but themselves for more than a year. Who have been instrumental in the destruction and bankruptcy of many thousands of businesses. Who have destroyed millions of peoples jobs and futures, while paying big corporations billions of tax payers hard earned money without any supervision or public accountability?

          “Civil war on the streets”? Where has that happened at all in UK? Nowhere!

          “Protesters against protesters”? Where has that happened at all in UK? Nowhere!

          “Anarchy and a collapse of cival (I presume you mean “civil”) society”? Where has that happened at all in UK? Nowhere!

          “maybe the clue is in the name ‘Extinction Rebellion’”. Clearly you dont know what “Extinction Rebellion” actually stands for either? It means to rebel against the present continuation of the Sixth Extinction Event in the history of the Earth, which, in case you hadnt noticed, is going on as you live and breathe. And it is precisely that why it would be perhaps more adviseable for you to find a way of living and breathing if the human race fails to do anything about the rapidly collapsing climate.

          Maybe anarchy and a collapse of civil society, will happen if we dont do anything about the human races strange insanity of ransacking the planets climate and ecology for profit and greed?

          That it?

          Always pleased to correct erronous misinterpretations of the facts.

          Have a nice afternoon.

          [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

          • It was funnier that the same emerged for IOW.

            The funny bit to me is that the IOW is home to Vestas!

            So, context sometimes has to be considered when suggesting planning/traffic issue is a major factor for fossil fuel but is somehow allowable for another industry. It may be seen by some as such, but any professional employed by UKOG would certainly be able to deal with that pretty easily. If those are the only questions to be asked then the answers are very evident to the officers, if not Councillors.

            But, I did learn something new about IOW yesterday. I knew poor old Harold had to deal with 2 invasions of England in 1066, now I find it was 3, with the first of the 3 being the IOW, thanks to wind power! I will add that one to this years Christmas quiz.

            • “It was funnier that the same emerged for IOW.”

              However getting back to the subject in hand rather than the usual feint miasma of attempted diversion into old subjects (Where have we seen that before? Hmm….)

              • The subject in hand for MH is what I referenced, Phil C.

                Let’s avoid that the subject is controlled by yourself. Hmmm. Where have we seen that before?

                I thought part of the subject involved the freedom to express as an individual. I demand my human rights, Priti!

                • No Martin, all you did is to reference another diversion into The Isle Of Wight.

                  The actual subject is:-

                  “Protest policing plans are an “assault” on human rights – campaigners.”

                  Trying to avoid that the subject is controlled by yourself. Hmmm. Where have we seen that before?

                  [Edited by moderator]

                  I thought part of the subject involved the freedom to express as an individual. I demand my Human Rights, Netpol!

                • [Edited by moderator]

                  If you would like to show how you always and only refer to the DoD subject within your posts it might be interesting, but it would be fantasy.

                  Practicing and preaching are not strong parts of the fossil fuel deniers armoury, are they?

                • [Edited by moderator]

                  I find it interesting that the typical strategy appears to be to “store up” vast amounts of innocent comments anyone makes. Apparently In order to twist and turn what is said in all honesty, back against people and transfigure it into some obsessive fixated weaponised narrative? How often have we seen that habitual behaviour employed?
                  Is it in fact little more than an transparent attempt to discredit anyones character rather than write rationally and calmly to discuss the Drill or Drop subject matter at the time?

                  [Edited by moderator]

                  That behaviourable proclivity was discussed on BBC Radio 4 only recently. The discussion was about modern day politics in Scotland.
                  The strategy that has become what I would refer to as “weaponised narrative” actually has a political definition. It appears to be a “behind the door” recognised strategical political attack method. That is called “projective Identification” in political circles. Which is a politicians pre-emptive attack strategy to discredit the personality of the opposition before an issue can be rationally opened up and discussed in public view.

                  So I will use the words “weaponised narrative” and “projective Identification” now that everyone can see that its merely a strategy and an avoidance of addressing the issue calmly and rationally, every time you attempt that strategy in future, and we will see where that leads shall we?

                  [Edited by moderator]

                  I impose nothing Martin, nor have I ever done. I merely point out errors and discrepancies. In actual fact, it has been yourself as I illustrated above, and as evidenced by the content of your own posts, that seeks to “impose control of what I post, and discuss with others who post.” because of those very same “weaponised narrative” and “projective Identification” strategies of your own. Sorry to reflect that back to you old thing, but perhaps when in Frome, speak as the Fromans.

                  And, you may not like it, but that IS about my human rights to expose that to view, and I will continue to demonstrate the same. Calmly and constructively. Rationally and calmly. Yes, it is constructive to correct false information.

                  Hoist by your petrard yet again old thing?

                  Are we having fun yet?

                  Have a nice day.

                • [Edited by moderator]

                  Interesting that you note I remember things. Indeed I do. I had many years of training my memory that was essential when negotiating deals. So, that is inconvenient when anyone wants to forget what they have stated before, but it is just a matter of fact that applies to quite a lot of people in society, so I am surprised you find it unusual.

          • Phil C

            [Edited by moderator]

            Wrong on Surrey council oil transport permission which was granted for Horse Hill without issue.

            Wrong on Human rights as nobody is looking at denying the right to protest which is a legal right but those shouting loudest are only trying to protect what we shall call cival disobedience which is the modis operandi of Extinction Rebellion.

            Cival disobedience is basically trying to justify breaking the law of the land & trying to justify it as ok by claiming it as a moral right.

            Unfortunately this will not wash as the law of the land already considers the law from many perspectives.

            Where you seem to think that demonstrations should not be organized & video monitored again I think you are wrong.

            Walking down every high street or in any shop citizen’s movements are monitored by CCTV for the protection of all.

            On demonstrations protestors carry cameras and video but selfish people like you want to deny the system a right of protection for society, the police who’s job it is to uphold the law in allowing a demonstation, protect themselves & uphold the legal rights of the people who the demonstrators are protesting about.

            You also seem to be winging about government policy in the pandemic where about 2.63 million people worldwide have died of Covid 19 which if it was allowed to run riot & unchecked could be 100 time more.

            The government have supported buisnesses & people so that there is a society to return to when it passes which is being enabled by lockdown & vaccination.

            [Edited by moderator]

            • Thats a strange “contribution” from an ‘Aggravated fossil fuel industry activists’ MH? [Edited by moderator]

              As to why this attempt to conflate the Drill or Drop subject issue of “Protest policing plans are an “assault” on human rights – campaigners” with the apparently randomly selected and out of context subject of Horse Hill is a mystery of where these conflated confusions of random issues come from I guess?

              Perhaps that is more a desperate attempt to avoid the subject in hand, and to make some irrelevant nonsense point not related to the subject at all?
              Maybe that is preferable to making any constructive comment to the real world Drill or Drop post subject of “Protest policing plans are an “assault” on human rights – campaigners”. And that “Civil liberties campaigners have condemned police plans for dealing with demonstrations as an “assault” on human rights.” and the HMICFRS bill? But who knows? Strange indeed.

              All the issues you “raised” in both posts in such a bizarre manner have already been explained to you MH. If you were to do your own research or actually read the documents, you will see that what I explained to you above was correct and verifiable.

              Have a nice weekend.

              [Text removed at poster’s request]

    • Following the events of police mob handling young women to the ground at the vigil for Sarah Everard on Saturday.

      We are all aware that a serving police officer has been charged with the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard

      Therefore, I dont see that the HMICFRS bill can be further discussed sensibly without considering those and other events.

      It is therefore a government priority that the police be held to account for their inappropriate and disproportionate activities in all walks of life in UK.

      I will say nothing more on the HMICFRS bill report until this abhorent crime by a policeman has been satisfactorily investigated officially and until all women in UK can feel safe to be out alone or in fellowship again.

      [Post corrected to reflect that police officer has been charged with the murder of Ms Everard, but not yet tried]

      • Thanks for moderating that Paul. Always better to be careful with legal matters. My Bad.

        There is perhaps another issue that could have an impact on the Wayne Couzens impending court case:-

        Saturday 13 March 2021 10:30, UK

        “Wayne Couzens will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court later this morning.
        Yesterday, the 48-year-old was taken to hospital for a second time in 48 hours for treatment on a fresh head injury sustained in custody.
        A Met Police spokesman said: “He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid. He was discharged the same day and returned to custody.”
        Couzens was previously treated in hospital for a separate head wound on Thursday, which was sustained in custody when he was alone in his cell.”
        “Couzens joined the Met Police in September 2018, when he worked with a response team that covered Bromley.”
        “He was later posted to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020.”
        “Here, Couzens is said to have been mostly sent on uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises, including a range of embassies.”

        One might consider that there could be a similar situation developing that has a parallel to Jeffrey Epstein?

        [Typo corrected at poster’s requst]

  2. ‘Aggravated activists’ – a particularly crass term presumably intending to suggest to those too stupid to think that ‘activism’ is a crime. It sounds like a party joke, but far from it.
    ‘Facial recognition technology’ – very important for a totalitarian regime anxious to police our every move on the assumption that it is likely to be criminal.
    Will the nation that rejected ID cards accept this move by a state hostile to the expression of opposition? Don’t answer that.
    So, I may not travel to protest. I attended the ‘second vote’ Brexit demonstrations at Westminster and elsewhere last year travelling “significant distances”. This legislation would make me a criminal because I believed that HMG had engineered the result by lying and I was anxious to test the result when the lies, some of them, had been exposed as such. As far as I was aware, there was no violence of any sort. The police were friendly, chatty and helpful. If this legislation is passed, they will be forced to be hostile. If I feel strongly about an issue, then why should I not travel significant distances – significance no doubt to be determined by the, for example, fracking company, on the day? Am I no longer free to protest where and when I wish, to say whatever I wish on the understanding that nobody has to listen to me.
    This proposed legislation represents an unconscionable assault upon our freedoms in a democratic state and could only be proposed by a government which had little regard for any freedoms save those of the ‘corporatocracy’.
    I wonder, as we move closer to totalitarian government, whether the British people will even notice. I suppose that’s up to us.

  3. Well, 1720, HMG was actually against Brexit whilst the case was being made, and they made that case, spending quite a bit of tax payers money in the process, telling a few lies in the process. The PM resigned as he failed. So, you might have been an aggravating activist, who did not understand the issue but still wished to take part! Not a unique position.

    The “second vote” also known as the “people’s vote” was an insult to those who were classified as not worthy of their right to vote, after they had bothered to cast it. Probably, to be followed by “best of three” if needed.

    And, yes, I voted to leave, as I have never believed in taxation without representation, (never ends well) although I did favour the joining of the Common Market. There will be those who will claim to be in the EU can reform that. Shown to be absolute twaddle. Many examples to show that is not the situation, but two stand out-the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. Both significantly incorrect for the UK, but decade after decade without the ability to change, and growing in significance as more members added.

    Not sure how you can justify your human rights on democratic grounds when you want to use them to campaign against a democratic decision and by so doing, attempt to trash the human rights of the larger group. Suggesting that those idiots who voted the other way were unable to identify porkies simply adds to your minority lopsided view.

    And there will come the number on the bus! Well, that has ALREADY been surpassed, before Covid, so maybe not get into those maths because some politicians will do that job for you, and they will soon have to divert when the maths are done, as some of them also have problems with maths!

    So, you have very much defined the issue. You wish to be able to campaign against democratic decisions and claim it is your human right to infringe the human rights of others who actually are in the majority. Suspect you will still be able to do so, but perhaps with LESS infringement of the human rights of the majority, and/or the consequences. As you are so keen to quote democracy, what is not to like? It is democracy, rather than anarchy, after all.

    I can not see your point about hostile police. They are quite used to being calm and friendly AND making an arrest, especially if the suspect provides a dodgy alibi that is very evidently fake! Makes many a copper smile.

    • Well said Martin.

      There is no infringement of the human right to protest here only to ensure it is done in a orderly manner that does not infringe the human rights of others.

      Without that we could have a civil war on the streets with protestors against protestors & anarchy and a collapse of cival society but maybe the clue is in the name ‘Extinction Rebellion’

  4. Be careful what you wish for – things could be much worse:


    “Police in the Netherlands have used water cannon to clear anti-government demonstrators from a park in The Hague.

    Some 2,000 demonstrators rallied in the centre of the city to protest against Covid-19 restrictions and other government policies.

    Mounted officers as well as riot police with batons and dogs moved in after some of the protesters refused to leave at the end of the demonstration.”

  5. Regarding Operation Manilla police tactics were carefully pre-planned and made use of outside agitators, press manipulation, divide and conquer and bullying of vulnerable local residents to deter others.
    Pretty much all these were in evidence in London over the weekend and previously.
    Ps. Operation Manilla was the name given to the policing of anti-fracking activity at and around Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site.

    • Any water cannon, riot police etc used in Operation Manila Peter? I recall there was some muck spraying over one of our national luvvie treasures? But that was a local farmer?

      If the outside agitators hadn’t come to protest and cause trouble there probably wouldn’t have been any need for Operation Manila?

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s