Thursday, April 09, 2009

Good cop, bad cop: Operations Pathway and Glencoe

Assuming that the raids by the anti-terrorist police are not another Forest Gate, but the real, can we assume that?

Let's assume, for the sake of argument that the people that the police are arresting are terr...
No, hang on, the people are innocent until proved guilty.

Pity, because I was going to write something nice about the police, just to be controversial.

OK. Take a different approach. Here's something I wrote earlier, to the Grauniad Sept 11th 2008 (not published):

The means that our leaders have used to defend ourselves against terrorism (A world that changed, Leader, September 11) comprise police action, intelligence, financial measures , military violence and torture. Police action and intelligence have been notably successful. Financial measures were incompetent, at least in the case of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose financial assets were frozen only after he kidnapped poor Ken Bigley.

The question for advocates of military violence and torture is whether they have increased or decreased the threat of terrorism. Although this is a difficult question to answer categorically, common sense suggests that by increasing the sense of alienation and anger in the Muslim community, it has actually increased the level of the terrorist threat.

See? " Police ... have been notably successful."

I get on really well with police officers at a personal level. I know lots as patients, and as co-workers, and I meet them a lot in demonstrations.

I remember once we were making too much noise outside a meeting of the Conservative Party, protesting about the supine line that the Tory Govt was taking over French nuclear tests in the Pacific, and in the end the Tories called the Riot Squad out to us. As we trooped off quietly and peaceably past the line of shields and batons, one of them said "Didn't expect to see you here, Doctor". It was one of my patients, beaming.

We should always remember there is a human being inside every uniform. We are all the same under our clothes. In my account of the Fossil Fool's Day demo last week I mention having a nice chat with the coppers. Some of them are authoritarian all right, and if the truth were out, we should not be surprised if a lot of them, more than the general population, are BNP voters or sympathisers. We all make mistakes, because we are all human.

So fair play to the anti-terrorist police for working to keep us secure and prevent bomb outrages. I hope you have got the right persons this time. Remember they are human too, and that they are not necessarily guilty just because you have arrested them. Thank you for putting your lives on the line. Commiserations to Blundering Bob Quick for inadvertently (?) flashing your Top Secret documents, with resultant loss of job and half of your £100k+p.a. pension.

(What's that? He gets the full pension even though he has to resign? Who writes these pension contracts? Why is there no clause saying "If you f*ck up and have to resign, your get a reduced pension? What is wrong with these people? Have they not heard of Moral Hazard?)

But I digress. The police deserve our sincere thanks for the dangerous and unpleasant work that they do. They also deserve our sincere condemnation when they assault peaceable protesters and passers-by.

Police officers are human. If humans are given orders to do bad things, 9 out of 10 will go ahead and do bad things. Read about the Milgram Experiment if you don't believe me.

So all the anger washing around the blogosphere about the police (with the exception of the ragged, dwindling bunch of authoritarian denialists who try to defend the policing of the City demo) needs to be focused on the police tactic that made such a difference between the Trafalgar Square and the City demos: Kettling.

PS Battling Bob Broadhurst congratulates himself on Operation Glencoe.
Here's his account: "On the first day of the G20 summit a number of cordons were put in place to deal with the high levels of violence experienced against officers. A small number of protesters sought to further damage property and launch attacks on police against these cordons which meant protesters had to be contained. Water and portaloos were made available to contained protesters and groups of people were allowed to leave through controlled dispersal."

Incredible! In the sense of, not to be believed.

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