War on Dissent

  • October 30, 2018

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Authority & Abolition

The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) campaigns against police surveillance and the regular smearing of activists and groups as “domestic extremists.”

Writing in 2016, Netpol observed that the government and the police in Britain are in a “permanent state of war.” This war is fought on a number of fronts — apart from the never-ending war on terror, there are also wars on drugs, on urban black youth, on migrants and on alleged extremism, particularly but not exclusively targeting Muslim communities.

“Every battle,” we argued, “requires an enemy and these wars are no exception.” Not least among those perceived enemies are the political dissenters, the campaigners who oppose state coercion and violence and the dehumanizing use of highly contested terms like “gang member,” “economic immigrant” or “domestic extremist.” The extraordinary breadth of social and political movements of all sizes and interests which have been targeted over the years by UK secret police units is a testament to this, as revealed by the Undercover Policing Inquiry that has trundled on to little effect since it was set up by the Cameron government in 2015 in the wake of the spycops scandal.

Two years ago, our intention in highlighting the war-footing of British policing was to comment on the expanding policing and security market and how it is exported around the world. At the time, the UK Home Office held its annual trade exhibition offering a “discreet environment” for companies that supply police, prisons and the Ministry of Defense. This event marked an exclusive opportunity for police leaders to fulfill their constant need for more comprehensive intelligence, improved arsenals and more efficient logistics.

The mentality of militarized public order policing demands the latest technological advances, and it does so for a reason: conducting war is never simply about the capture of physical space, but also about the ability to maintain control once it’s captured.

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Network for Police Monitoring

Netpol (the Network for Police Monitoring) is a collective of experienced activists, campaigners, lawyers and researchers challenging disproportionate or excessive public order policing at protests and against local communities. We support a more cohesive voice for independent frontline groups within the mainstream debate around civil liberties in England and Wales.

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Source URL — https://roarmag.org/films/war-on-dissent-uk-policing/

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Magazine — Issue 11