By Mathew Carr
July 10, 2021 (LONDON): The U.K., which is hosting climate talks in November, has been accused of invoking its police to secretly spy on climate activists.
One witness to an investigation of Britain’s post-Brexit policing, a member of climate activist group Extinction Rebellion gave evidence that police officers had attempted to recruit him as a covert human intelligence source to pass on information about Extinction Rebellion’s activities, according to a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution emailed to CarrZee. His name wasn’t published.
CarrZee approached the U.K. government and XR for comment and I will let you know how I get on.
Police breached “fundamental rights” at a vigil for Sarah Everard earlier this year by treating it as a protest, the parliamentary inquiry found.
Background: A serving police officer admitted murdering Everard after abducting her from the street as she walked home in south London, according to the Guardian newspaper. The Metropolitan police constable Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Friday July 9 to her murder, having admitted to her kidnap and rape at an earlier hearing.
There were “multiple failings” by the same police force and Avon and Somerset Police in the way they handled events at Clapham Common, south-west London, — where the vigil for Everard was held in March — and in protests in Bristol in the same month, according to the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution (APPGDC).
The information from the investigation raises questions about whether the U.K. government is doing enough to protect against police abuse ahead of the heavily policed UN talks planned for Glasgow in November, where thousands of country delegates are expected to gather.
“The use of covert human intelligence sources is a controversial exercise of coercive power,” according to the report.
Protests against climate-policy dithering, against climate migration and against climate policy costs will probably become more frequent across the world as global warming worsens.
At the March vigil, male police resorted to violence against some females present. A report by the policing inspectorate not only cleared police of wrongdoing but praised them for their restraint, according to the Guardian.
Still, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said at the time he was “deeply concerned” by footage showing police officers detaining women. See this, including video: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56396960
A number of attendees commented that the, predominantly female officers on site throughout the day were replaced by predominantly male officers in the evening. It was predominantly male officers who ordered the attendees to disperse and “go home”.
This was viewed as antagonistic by many of the attendees since they had attended, in part, to protest against a narrative which suggested women should “stay home” to protect themselves from male violence. “This was an obvious catalyst for anger and outrage,” according to witness and freelance journalist Georgia Lewis, cited in the report as witness CCA2.
Lewis, speaking by phone with CarrZee, said Mr Johnson and his government may not be genuine in their libertarian stances.
The proposed Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill would substantially increase the powers of police to restrict peaceful protest, according to the parliamentary group.
Some ruling Conservative Party members spoke against the bill, then voted for it, anyhow, Lewis said. “They spoke out, and that was seen as quite courageous, then they just voted with the whip. What’s the point?” she asked. “It’s a terrible bill. It does seek to limit dissent.”
“I am horrified that no officers have been held accountable for their actions at Clapham Common, especially after reports emerged that a woman was not taken seriously by a male officer when she attempted to report an allegation of indecent exposure as she left the vigil,” Lewis said in the parliamentary group’s report.
This is particularly shocking in the light of this: Couzens was suspected of committing indecent exposure three times before murder and could have been caught six years earlier, according to the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/09/sarah-everard-police-under-pressure-to-overhaul-internal-investigations