The poor old FIT coppers from the shadowy National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) seem to be having a hard time in Edinburgh this week.
A video put out on you tube yesterday showed a great bit of Fitwatching by Climate Camp activists. With determination and some nerve they surrounded NPOIU cop Mark Sully and his expensive long zoom lens camera with scarves and banners. They then held their ground as Sully clearly became frustrated, pointlessly snapping his camera over the banners.
This sort of action is far from being a mere bit of bravado. Sully (CO996) and his sidekick Ian Caswell (1818), are not neutral keepers of the peace, as the police often pretend they are. Their role is to gather intelligence on, and disrupt the actions of climate camp activists. Activists identified photographed by Sully’s long lens camera will find themselves labelled domestic extremists with their own file on NPOIU’s database. Climate campers should buy these guys a drink!
According to reports, Scottish FIT were keen to come across as different to the Met. They were friendly, extremely friendly, happy to hang out on the gate, chatting with the gate shift, passing the time of day. There is nothing wrong with friendly, of course, but activists should know that with a FIT cop all is rarely what it seems. Climate campers would be wise to keep them at a very long arms length, no matter how friendly they are.
Overall policing has been described as fairly low key, perhaps reflecting the desire of RBS to keep the whole thing out of the press. There have been scuffles though, between police and activists outside the RBS building. Two people are reported to have been injured enough to need hospital treatment, both injuries apparently the result of being kicked by police officers. Two others were arrested for breach of the police offences, apparently entirely randomly.
Were you there? Reports on the policing of the site / arrests / assaults on activists are very welcome. Mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The cop above is Ian Caswell, known to many of us as 1818 of South Yorkshire police - many thanks to those who have sent us his name! He is often seen in the company of PS Mark Sully, pictured here at the top of this post.
These two are regularly seen with their cameras at demonstrations, meetings and gatherings. They have been photographed at protests against Heckler and Koch in Nottingham, at No Borders demonstrations at Crawley, at Climate Camp in Kingsnorth, at Smash EDO in Brighton, and many more. They do not seem limited to one geographical area, but tirelessly travel up and down the country in search of protesters to photograph.
It is this aspect of their role that has led FITwatch to speculate that these two officers work for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). This is a sister organisation to NETCU, which many of the readers of this blog will be aware of. These organisations are run as private companies under the management of ACPO, who spend at least £2m a year on them. Their role is to provide intelligence (NPOIU), support the interests of business (NETCU) and manage prosecutions (NDET - National Domestic Extremism Team).
The recent report on the policing of Climate Camp by South Yorkshire police provides evidence that we were correct. A debrief report, containing comments from individual officers, makes frequent mention of the role of NPOIU at the Camp in managing FIT teams and surveillance in general - both overt and covert. It also contains one comment commending PS Sully in particular for his role as the FIT's NPOIU manager.
The NPOIU collects and collates huge amounts of data. Despite being a private company it has access to police databases. This information is presumably made available to NETCU. How much information they deem appropriate to pass on to the private sector businesses they support (EDO, Heckler and Koch etc) is anyone's guess.
Carswell and Sully are, then, in a strange position. They are serving police officers, apparently working for a private company. It is not clear whether they are contracted to the NPOIU, or are working on secondment. FITwatchers who find themselves standing in the way of their cameras may want to speculate as to whether there is a criminal offence of obstructing a police officer who isn't really a police officer....