Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hello Officer

This demure young lady may or may not be Lynn Watson. She told her friends in the environmental movement that was her name, though the mainstream media calls her 'officer A' because she's back on active duty somewhere else now. She didn't tell them she was an undercover police officer on secondment to a private company operating under the aegis of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Yes that's right: the cops have a corporate arm which means they can charge the state for their activities and evade public scrutiny - all the police spying outfits are ACPO subsidiaries.

ACPO is a private company and the Office of the Information Commissioner has confirmed that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the Association, since Schedule 1 of the Act does not include a definition which covers ACPO.

So if you've got any concern about the way Britain is policed, you can sod off. And that's official. This really bothers me. In a democracy, at the very least the citizens' elected representatives should be able to conduct oversight. With ACPO, it looks very like the police forces have deliberately created a corporate structure to avoid accountability. What other justification could there be for public servants paid by taxpayers to carry out public duties, to hide behind company law as though they're a pizza delivery firm or a bunch of hedge fund traders?

Should the police be running spy operations? Yes, if they're investigating crime. No, if they're simply gathering information on protest groups. It's none of their business what people believe. In the case of the environmental movement, the undercover officers seem to have been involved in planning activities and inciting people to commit criminal acts, which is way over the line. I simply don't believe that the environmental movement should be the subject of counter-terrorist tactics. They don't behave in violent or aggressive ways.


Ewarwoowar said...


Vole, you in your office tomorrow? I know you had meetings today.

The Plashing Vole said...

Yes, I'm in most of the day.