Saturday, April 18, 2009

Territorial Support Group hit Ian Tomlinson and can expect to have their name change

The Special Patrol Group was a crack unit of the Metropolitan Police who specialised in public order offences from 1965 until 1986, when, after beating Blair Peach to death and being found in possession of illegal weapons, it was punished by having its name changed to the Territorial Support Group (TSG). Now it finds itself in slightly lukewarm water after one of its members made an unprovoked assault on Ian Tomlinson, contributing to his death, and another for hitting a woman first with his hand and then with his baton.

A rational government that upholds the rule of law and values the people as the ultimate source of power in a democracy would order a thorough review of the TSG. In particular, they would view all the CCTV and citizens' footage of the G20 demonstrations, to observe the behaviour of the TSG, who are identifiable from the blue markings on their shoulders and upper chest. In particular, they would look to see whether their interventions quelled angry crowd behaviour or had the opposite effect.

Members of the unit would also be screened by being hooked up to a polygraph and exposed to images and key words to see if they respond to right wing triggers.

As things stand in UK plc 2009, the best we can reasonably expect is a change of name for the unit. Suggestions in the comment slot please.

[Update 7 Nov 2009: Guardian: Culture of Impunity at TSG, 5000 complaints, 0.18% upheld. I rest my case.]


Phil said...

SPG ->
TSG ->

Ultra-Violent Gangsters?


DocRichard said...

UVG, yes, a possiblity certainly.
What about Tactical Homicidal Urgency Group?

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a balanced view, is there? Correct me if I'm wrong, but in this country you are innocent until proven guilty, or do you feel police officers shouldn't be afforded this right?
I'm sure if the police used polygraphs (which have been widely discredited) on suspects, you would be the first to bemoan it as oppressive and a breach of human rights, but yet again, I guess you feel that Police Officers are not entitled to this.
It is only right and proper that events are investigated thoroughly, transparently and fairly. It must, however, be fair to everyone concerned!o

DocRichard said...

Good afternoon Anonymofficer,
I think the phrase is, "Bang to rights" with regard to the actions of the TSG. The actions of the TSG as recorded on film seem to be too much even for the strong stomachs of the right wing press, who are normally on your side.

Just to show that I do not have an anti-police stance, read this blog:

"Just back home from the G20 demos. I was in the peaceful part, US Embassy to Trafalgar Square. The police couldn't have been nicer with us, in total contrast to the policing at the Bank..."

There is a stark contrast between the two demos. Same people, same coppers, different tactic. Kettling is your problem. Kettling, and the TSG.

Polygraphs are not perfect, but I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that lawyers are not perfect either.

Thanks for commenting. Mind how you go.

Anonymous said...

And there was me thinking you'd never guess I was a Police Officer!

Couldn't agree more about lawyers lack of perfection!

However, no matter how "bang to rights" a member of the public is, they are still entitled to a fair trial and if the police were to pronounce such judgements before an investigation was completed I'm sure you would quite rightly be against this.

It also seems unfair to pronounce guilt on an officers actions based on roughly ten seconds of footage, without full knowledge of what had transpired before.

Just to clarify, I am fully behind the incidents being fully and fairly investigated, it would just be refreshing to see the police being afforded the basic rights that any member of the public would receive.

DocRichard said...

Dear Anonymofficer,
I am pleased that we are able to agree on lawyers, who are paid to disagree with each other on everything.

If you re-read the original post, you will see that there is no prejudging of the guilt of the individual officers. It is a piece about the TSG as a whole, and its relation to the SPG. OK maybe it does prejudge the TSG as a whole, but that arises from the "non-closure" of the Blair Peach case, which in turn is attributable to the presumption by our friends the lawyers on the innocence of the SPG.

It is all getting a bit complex, and I plead innocence on grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mind how you go.

Anonymous said...

Its very easy for people who have not been placed in a hostile situation, where you are outnumbered by a large group, who are quite willing to see you seriously injured because you wear a uniform, to make judgements about the actions of others.

DocRichard said...

And it is also easy to make misjudgments about people engaging in peaceful democratic protests.

To assume that all demonstrators, or even a significant minority, would wish to see uniformed police "seriously injured" is a gross misjudgment. Look at the Climate Camp videos, where people with arms in the air declaring "This is not a riot" are hit by police. Read the individual accounts here and elsewhere. Read my account of the peaceful, traditionally-policed demonstration on April 1st.

The protests were not a threat to the police, but they were treated as if they were, with propaganda going on for a week before in the London papers, and your "We are up for it" briefing.

The protest was against an economic and financial system which is simply not fit for purpose. The whole of the British people is angry about the expensive mess that the unregulated money markets have produced, with us, the taxpayers, having to bail out the overpaid bankers.

I hope that at least we can agree that democracy is the unchangeable basis of the British state. The protesters were representative of the people, representing them better than some MPs.

By giving "up for it" briefings, by kettling, by using agents provocateurs, by attacking peaceful demonstrators, the police service has got itself into deep trouble.

Anonymous said...

This phrase concerns me 'Members of the unit would also be screened by being hooked up to a polygraph and exposed to images and key words to see if they respond to right wing triggers.' Your answer is to alter what is an apolitical organisation into one which is filled with the 'right' (or left) kind of people. A concept I think fascists have every sympathy for.

While I am not of the left, I am very much an old fashioned liberal of the center, and would have voted green at the EU elections, was it not for the vocal ignorance of the Green member of the Metropolitan Police Authority on this issue. Instead other parties got my vote.

The reason your protest was peaceful was that the people there were intent on peaceful protest. Others have not been so inclined. My colleagues have all policed all kinds of protest, legal, illegal, far left, far right and they all get treated the same. In most circumstances people behave and there is no need to use force. At the G20 people in some places were not behaving, and it was necessary to try to restore order. It is not the fault of the police or any police tactic on the day that lead to violence, but the intent of some in the crowd.

As to your critism of containment as a tactic, how do you propose that we prevent the events of the may-day riots of around a decade ago. This tactic has prooven highly effective at stopping this kind of disorder, if this is removed from the options it is only a short time till we see disorder like this again and we will be blamed for failing to keep control of them.

Granted the containment tactic will lead to some non violent people being detained, however this has been a tactic for around a decade and the vast majority of people are aware of it, yet choose to come to protests (generally the tactic is used at illegal protests as opposed to organised and lawfull protests). And when they do come to these types of events these people should not be shocked to be contained for a few hours, durring which they can continue to protest. However if their intention was to carry out some unlawfull activities I can see how being detained by police would make the blood boil.

You have also mentioned 'agents provocateurs' please justify this, as this is not a tactic the police use, we attempt to minimise the use of force, not incite it. This is in my opinion an absolutely outragous allegation and should be corrected immediately.

You have also contradicted yourself, you have said how you are not 'anti-police' yet you repeatedly fail to show respect to the annonymous poster calling him 'Anonymofficer.' Which is quite frankly juvinille.

And finally when you compare the tactics of the British police with our continental cousins, we do not use tear gas, we haven't used batton rounds. We very rarely even get our helmets on, even when under attack from missiles, for fear of 'provoking a riot.' So how do you propose we deal with the admittedly small corps of protestors intent on causing disruption?

DocRichard said...

Good Consternoon, Aftable.

(This comment is up in full on todays front page, as I had difficulty with the html in the comment slot.)

Thank you for taking the trouble to visit and for such an extensive comment. I will deal briefly with your substantive points, as I am short of time this morning.

Anon: This phrase concerns me 'Members of the unit would also be screened by being hooked up to a polygraph and exposed to images and key words to see if they respond to right wing triggers.' Your answer is to alter what is an apolitical organisation into one which is filled with the 'right' (or left) kind of people

RL: OK: provide left wing triggers too, in order to balance it up. Would that be acceptable to you?
Would you be prepared to place a £10 bet, proceeds to go to Practical Action, on which side will get more positives?

Anon: At the G20 people in some places were not behaving, and it was necessary to try to restore order.

RL: Continued, with live links, on today's front page.

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