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UK Authorities Accused of Inciting Illegal Protest 371

jarran writes "Questions are being asked about the tactics being employed by UK authorities to monitor and control protest groups. Schnews reports on evidence that government IP addresses are posting messages to sites like indymedia, attempting to provoke activists into taking illegal direct action. Evidence has emerged recently that the police consider sex to be a legitimate tool for extracting information from targets, and senior police have been accused of lying to parliament about the deployment of undercover agents at protests."
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UK Authorities Accused of Inciting Illegal Protest

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  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:49AM (#34978648)
    Sign me up! I mean, I'm an activist with information relevant to the UK Police's Interests! Really!... Just don't send the guy in the article my way, he's really creepy...
    • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:42AM (#34978860) Homepage Journal

      Yea, we lock you up with Bubba here, and he'll be having sex with you until you're ready to reveal all the information.

    • Judging by the pictured guy, you might not want to sleep with the activists.

      Now the animal rights activists, PETA, they generally seem more attractive and concerned with hygiene. Plus I'd feel less bad about lying to get in bed with one of them. On average. I'm sure there are plenty of environmentalists who are doing it just to feel holier than thou, but it seems like -all- the animal rights activists are.

      • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:51AM (#34981620) Journal
        Note that if you read TFAs, the police were using sex to infiltrate "anti-racist groups". Oh the humanity!

        And as to trying to provoke illegal behaviour, everybody knows (or should know) that the Met (London Metropolitan Police Force) do this. A reporter from the Guardian a few years back actually caught a policeman undercover showing some protestors how to unhook the police barriers and trying to get others to charge the police. And a Member of Parliament last year states that he saw two undercover police officers trying to lead people into throwing bottles at the police link []. These are just the ones that are in the mainstream news. You have to ask yourself how it is that in a protest of hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes over a million, where over the course of an entire day there are perhaps three or four notable incidents of vandalism, it is that a few press photographers are always in the right place and time to grab the pictures of a few balaclaved men kicking in the windows of a McDonalds or somesuch. The intelligence services in the UK even infiltrated the Green Party. Note to Americans, the Green Parties in Europe are not the equivalent of those in the US. The UK Greens have an MP elected and do reasonably well at the council level, and in Germany and others, they're respectable groups. But in the UK, legitimate parties are fair game for undercover infiltration / subversion.

        If you want to see some despicable behaviour, witness the police dragging a disabled man out of his wheel chair at a recent protest. Really - it's worth watching the BBC interview [] with the victim. Note the police claim that he was rolling toward them threateningly. The guy can't even move his wheels on his own.

        But that people in the UK have been paid to lie their way into sex with unsuspecting people, usually pretty young people at that, seems there's nothing the UK authorities wont sink to.
  • by rastilin ( 752802 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:53AM (#34978666)

    Here's a new rule. If the police tell you to do it, whatever you were told to do is now legal. That will rapidly put a stop to this kind of underhanded stuff. Also, weren't there all these laws in European countries regarding lying about your identity when you're sleeping around; or does that also just not apply when the police do it?

    • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:06AM (#34978722)
      Actually, the police officer that made the post is now part of a conspiracy to commit a crime. No need to even come up with new laws to properly convict these idiot police.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @05:07AM (#34979296)

        Technically, that may be true, but the police (and, for that matter, most people employed in the public sector) in the UK have developed a remarkable way of avoiding criminal liability for these things.

        It works something like this: If one person does something illegal, that will be prosecuted within the law. OK?

        If a whole bunch of people are involved in something illegal as part of their job, and those people are employed in the public sector, that is never a crime. It is - at most - a "concern" which may result in an investigation, a report, and maybe even a full-blown inquiry. At no point will any individual (or, for that matter, group of individuals) be singled out for punishment. The most they can expect is some harsh criticism in the resulting report, but that criticism will in no way harm their career.

        • Technically, that may be true, but the police (and, for that matter, most people employed in the public sector) in the UK have developed a remarkable way of avoiding criminal liability for these things.


          But while this does indicate that the law should be changed, I think the suggestion presented would be a very wrong change and possibly even a turn for the worse. Certainly encouraging criminal behaviour should be a crime. I have no problem with a police officer going along with preparation fo
      • "Actually, the police officer that made the post is now part of a conspiracy to commit a crime."

        No, he's a spy. He is mearly inciting the group he is spying on, probably in an attempt to test their level of communication, organization and willingness to break the law.

        The real world is not black and white, the problem with these kind of activities is where to draw the line. Clearly such tatics were central to breaking up the IRA but just as clearly they've lost the plot when they start using them again
    • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:13AM (#34978750)

      Nah, that just exposes all new loopholes.

      A better option is this: If a cop instructs or incites illegal action, that officer is potentially an accomplice/co-conspirator and the department they work for is liable. Note "instructs/incites" would only count when the officer was A) acting in his or her professional capacity, since otherwise they're just another civilian breaking the law on their own time and B) actually started something instead of going along with other criminal elements as part of their cover. This would mean that the victims of riots instigated by undercover cops would be able to sue the department.

      So Officer Bob working for the EXPD posing undercover as an anarchist throws the first stone during a protest, which then sparks a riot. Under these changed rules, the shopkeeper whose window was smashed or the insurance company of the car that was set on fire has a surefire lawsuit against the EXPD, who of course wise up and tell all of Officer Bob's coworkers to never, ever pull this kind of crap again. Ol' Bob himself is, of course, given his pink slip, and might face charges if the local prosecutor has the stones.

      Plus, added bonus, the actual victims of the riot get compensation - and by "actual victims" I mean the folks who caught in the crossfire, whose homes, neighbourhoods or places of business were turned into a warzone by overzealous cops and the violent assholes who enjoy rioting.

      • The way it usually works is this. The undercover officer isn't inciting the action, they are simply playing the part of someone friendly to such actions. Anything they do is by their own free will, and he was monitoring, and doing what it took to maintain his cover. If the organizers ordered him, for example, to acquire explosives, to maintain his cover he would need to acquire the requested materials. If he was unaware of the purpose for the materials, it would be impossible to introduc

      • by jimicus ( 737525 )

        Thing is, in the scenario you describe it is vanishingly unlikely that Officer Bob will ever be caught in the first place.

        Firstly, he'll be wearing a balaclava and nondescript clothes which he'll dispose of immediately after he gets home.

        Secondly, anything which might provide direct evidence of Bob throwing the first stone (eg. CCTV) will mysteriously "not be working" on the day of the riot. (This doesn't work so well now that virtually everyone's got a phone that can record video).

        Thirdly, it's a riot FFS

        • The trouble is, that adds additional complexity to the situation.

          What if, after Bob threw the stone, a man chucked a petrol bomb at an officer who was severely injured. He had the petrol bomb prepared, although he got caught up in the situation he still made the choice to use a potentially deadly weapon in the situation.

          Getting caught up in the moment should only affect sentencing rather than if a crime was actually committed (these are the kinds of things suspended sentences are designed for after al
          • by Nursie ( 632944 )

            The petrol bomb situation is pretty cut and dried. The guy with the bomb had a petrol bomb, he doesn't get a free pass.

            What about the situation where officer Bob manages to kick off a full-blown confrontation - ie. the police run in with shields and batons. Others react in what they perceive as self defence, protesters and officers alike are injured.

            Who should face charges here?

            Well, Bob, for a start. After that it becomes a lot less clear to me.

      • You'd probably find those conditions would make absolutely no difference.

        Entrapment laws are incredibly strong in the UK and police are trained extensively not to fall foul of them. They may throw that stone, but they'll make sure, if they throw it, they'll be the last person who does. He may be part of an angry mob at a protest but he won't be someone at the front clashing with the police, he'll be standing back amongst a crowd of people.

        Undercover operations are time consuming, expensive and embarra
      • by dwandy ( 907337 )

        has a surefire lawsuit against the EXPD

        And who pays the cost of litigation and the damages awarded?
        The tax payer. The "EXPD" has no money except that which is collected as taxes/fines and then allocated in the budget for law enforcement.
        Why should I pay for the individual police officer's actions?
        Part of the problem really is that the officer hides behind the protection of force and we foolish taxpayers shuffle some money from public to private interests.
        Let's make those who committed these acts perso

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:23AM (#34978788)

      Wouldn't help anyway, it's .gov IP addresses involved, not police force addresses. The police can access the network in question, but they can't proxy through it (and would be stupid to do so when public proxies are available).

      The police are government funded, but otherwise independent - at least in theory. The idea is similar to the separation of the executive and judicial branches in the US - if the police were functionally a part of the government, they would have their hands tied trying to investigate breaches of law involving government officials, and would be in a position where .gov could force them to reveal information on investigations that would compromise those same investigations.

      Obviously there are problems in that structure, but any policing structure is inherently a compromise.

      Worth remembering that governments (and police) are made up of people, and sometimes the views of those people will run contrary to the organisation. The posts could be from an agent provocateur, but could just as easily be from a temp or secretary who actually holds those views, and didn't realise a posts source could be tracked. Slashdot of all places should know how clueless general internet users can be - that they might work in a government post doesn't automatically negate that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:55AM (#34978678)

    Agent provocateur []

  • by arcsimm ( 1084173 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:10AM (#34978736)
    War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength!
  • "senior police have been accused of lying to parliament about the deployment of undercover agents"

    But, it does sound like he was doing his job well. How could possibly lying to politicians be an offense?

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      "senior police have been accused of lying to parliament about the deployment of undercover agents"

      But, it does sound like he was doing his job well. How could possibly lying to politicians be an offense?

      If you want to outright lie legally, you have to be a politician.
      All the others are allowed to try "putting a spin" - the quickest way: present it as a positive. Like: "this demonstrates just how good the undercover agents were: not even their senior knew what were they doing. You think their targets had any chance?"

  • A bit slanted (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishexe ( 168879 )
    I only RTFA with "sex" in the link text, but that one seemed a little bit ho-hum. I mean, if they're trying to infiltrate an organization (and accompanying social milieu) where there's a lot of sex, why wouldn't having sex be a legitimate part of their task? Like, duh? Next up, articles about how shocking it is that undercover cops infiltrating drug gangs sometimes handle drugs! And this is considered an appropriate police activitiy! Scandalous!

    How addicted to the sinister police narrative do you hav
    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:25AM (#34978800) Homepage Journal

      If its about that guy who was embedded in UK environmental organisations then I don't think he had to be having sex to be involved. Either that or I never got invited to the right demonstrations.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        I suppose it's really how they want to define embedded :)
      • by Tom ( 822 )

        It isn't the demonstrations. And I don't even think it is specific to the themes.

        The thing is that we humans still think in tribal structures. When people bond together strongly over something, they quickly split the world into "us" and "them". That is true of families, religions, political views, even music styles and hobbies. Almost all of us search for partners within those groups that we feel a part of. We are looking for someone who is sufficiently like us. When some idea dominates your live, those who

    • by Nursie ( 632944 )

      It comes down to sex by deception.

      Do you not agree that the women involved are allowed to feel lied to and betrayed?

      And these are not big, international, espionage type things, these are police infiltrating environmentalist and animal rights groups. Legitimate citizen groups, convening, meeting and (for the largest part) engaging on totally legal protest. That they have people coming in, lying about who they are and what they do and then sleeping with people specifically to rat them out...

      I don't know about

      • Re:A bit slanted (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @04:42AM (#34979212)

        Do you not agree that the women involved are allowed to feel lied to and betrayed?

        sure, but if lying to get laid is a crime, you might as well lock up every male on the planet..

        • by Nursie ( 632944 )

          I didn't say it was a crime, i said it was morally repugnant and not an acceptable tactic for the police to use.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Well, it's usually considered unethical to trick someone into sex under false pretenses. It's a bit impractical to actually make that illegal in most cases. But one might still want agents of the government to avoid doing it as part of their official duties.

    • by Draek ( 916851 )

      I mean, if they're trying to infiltrate an organization (and accompanying social milieu) where there's a lot of sex, why wouldn't having sex be a legitimate part of their task?

      For the same reasons that, when they're trying to infiltrate an organization that deals in drugs, trafficking drugs isn't considered a legitimate part of their task. It's a legal nightmare waiting to happen.

  • so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:27AM (#34978806)

    So it's part of their job to have sex? as in, they are getting paid to have sex? I wish there was a name for that...

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      It's not quite prostitution because the parties don't quite line up.

      But at least when the undercover cop had to go back to headquarters for a meeting or something he could just tell the bad guys that he's going for a meeting with his pimp.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It's just a prostitute hired by a 3rd party to the sex act. You've never heard of getting someone a hooker for their birthday?

        Either way, it's someone engaging in sex acts because they were paid to do it.

        • It's just a prostitute hired by a 3rd party to the sex act. You've never heard of getting someone a hooker for their birthday?

          Either way, it's someone engaging in sex acts because they were paid to do it.

          If that were the legal definition, then all the people in porno films would be convicted of prostitution.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Porn is generally in another category legally because BOTH parties are paid, neither solicits the other, and it's purpose is "artistic expression".

            Many people don't really consider either to be particularly moral and wouldn't want law enforcement to be an active participant. I have to wonder what the police would do if one of their beat cops moonlighted as a porn star?

            The police are honestly in a worse moral and ethical position than porn actors or prostitutes since they are also toying with others emotiona

  • Old old news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:30AM (#34978816)

    Fact is, the police have been at this game since Victorian times,

    My father, being an old communist, used to tell tales of the 'strange' characters that tried to infiltrate the local party, forgetting that this is a small town and that your history, and that of your family, were easily found out, and, if not, you were suspect.

    Best laugh, one character turned down by the party on the grounds of 'known police informer', the next week joined the SNP, worked his way right in there as well, pity no-one from the SNP asked any of his neighbours about him and his background, you know, pertinant things like him being a member of the Orange order and a unionist...

    Know for a fact, Dundee Uni vegetarian society in the mid '80s was infiltrated by the plods, and if I was a member of any animal rights group in the UK I'd want to do a deep background check on some of my fellow members...

    A final parting note, at a Reading festival, was approached by a rather suspect character wanting to know if I had any acid for sale, next day, same character wanted to know if I wanted to buy any, I'm not suggesting for a moment that as the number of arrests for possession on day 1 were too low this was a.plod selling stuff so that a.n.other.plod could then arrest the poor sap who bought it, but...

    Being fair to the plods, this infiltration mularkey works both ways..

    • Know for a fact, Dundee Uni vegetarian society in the mid '80s was infiltrated by the plods

      Who cares if some vegetarians at some UK uni got diarrhea?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 )
      Well, a lot of organiations don't have a problem with police infiltrators. Their politics may be extreme but many of them stay well within the law. A police informant has a lot more time to spend helping with the campaigning because he doesn't have the inconvenience of needing to find a job to supprt himself. They have a full-timer paid for by the police.
      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        Plus sexual services! (" the police consider sex to be a legitimate tool for extracting information")

    • I seem to recall a documentary on the BBC a couple of years back that stated as fact the british miner's union was infiltrated by either the police or MI5, can't remember which, back in the '70s-'80s. So like you say this doesn't seem like much of a shocker to me.

    • by Chas ( 5144 )

      Heh. Had this happen at a hacker get-together a couple years back. This somewhat older lady comes to the meeting and promptly starts asking about drugs, and using the computers on site to research psylocybin and the like. Stood out like a sore thumb that'd been dipped in pitch and naptha and set alight.

  • Agent provocateur?

    It's called democracy in action.

  • Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @03:18AM (#34978946)

    The irksome part about the police using agents provocateur is that the police are always complaining that they have insufficient funds to police the streets. If the police can spare a man to infiltrate a bunch of hippies for a number of years, how many undercover police are there in all the more disruptive groups? The figure of £250,000 a year was mentioned as the cost of running one agent, which is infuriating to anyone who has been told that the police have insufficient resources to visit their house when it has been burgled.

    • by data2 ( 1382587 )

      Even more so for infiltrating a group, which at worst seems to have done some non-violent direct action. I do not really see this as a threat at all, more akin to civil disobedience.

    • What's the cost of organising a team of 5-10 officers for the same amount of time? How much less likely is the team without an agent to get a successful prosecution? Budgeting is rarely so black and white.

      As much as a burglary is a big deal to victims, their property and contents are probably insured and there's no risk to life. The Stop Huntingdon animal Cruelty group, sent families death threats, sent fake bombs, handed around leaflets saying their victims were pedophiles, invaded their workplaces.
  • by seyyah ( 986027 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @04:00AM (#34979082)
  • by Epeeist ( 2682 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @04:12AM (#34979116) Homepage
    In at least one of the demonstrations I have attended I have seen journalists pay people to incite a disturbance. This was an anti-Nazi league demonstration with money been given to a set of skinheads to break it up.
  • by jdogalt ( 961241 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @05:12AM (#34979316) Journal

    For those of you unfamiliar with the 'Camden 28', a good example of a US Agent Provocateur can be found in this story- (film shown on PBS independent lens from time to time)

    In the early-morning hours of Sunday, August 22, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced that FBI agents had arrested 20 antiwar activists in and near a draft board office in Camden, New Jersey. ...

    They also asked the jury to acquit on the grounds that the raid would not have taken place without the help of a self-admitted FBI informer and provocateur. The defendants emphasized that they had given up their plan, for lack of a practical means, until the informer-provocateur had resurrected it and provided them with the encouragement and tools to carry it out.

  • by ZDRuX ( 1010435 )
    I wonder what all the people will say now, will everyone call Schnews a bunch of conspirary theorists now too? When the G20 in downtown Toronto was here just recently - same thing was brought up and everyone on talk radio and the interwebz got laughed at as conspiracy theorists saying the police are out to get the protesters, so what now?... Is the media a bunch of nuts as well?
  • "The best way of stopping any liaison getting too heavy was to shag somebody else. It's amazing how women don't like you going to bed with someone else," said the officer...

    "Captain Obvious" is clearly insufficient rank for this officer - for an insight of that magnitude, he should be at least a Colonel.

  • When you are in fear of losing your police job, or other such government sponsored work....

    Create a problem that doesn't otherwise exist and then be the solution.

    Of the near 7 billion people on this planet its some fraction of 1% that is causing the rest of us all the world scale problems.

    Though we already all know this, its how to stop them is the task.

  • Bunch of sexists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @07:52AM (#34979774)
    The article says that both male and female officers engaged in the practice, but public outcry is only about those poor women who were taken advantage of. What about the men? It's ok to take advantage of them? Their feelings don't get hurt?
    • by BetterSense ( 1398915 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @10:10AM (#34980558)
      Men don't have feelings, and women are always victims. Men are always perpetrators and aggressors and have no emotions, no emotional needs, and of course cannot be harmed emotionally. If you were properly socialized you would have absorbed this dogma by now.


      Woman sees man undressed in his own home: man gets arrested for indecent exposure (woman is the victim)
      Man sees woman undressed in her own home: man gets arrested for voyeurism (woman is the victim)
      Woman (of age) has sex with her father: man gets arrested for incest (woman is the victim)
      Man emotionally baits woman by appealing to her basic emotional needs then uses that emotional leverage to get money:Woman is being exploited
      Woman emotionally baits man by appealing to his basic emotional needs then uses that emotional leverage to get money:Woman is being exploited
      Female baby has genital parts removed by parents for cosmetic/tradition/superstition reasons: Illegal, woman is considered mutilated and worthy of sympathy (victim)
      Male baby has genital parts removed by parents for cosmetic/tradition/superstition reasons: Legal and encouraged, he should be like it, or at least live with it, and certainly not insinuate he has been harmed in any way.

      I suggest you work on understanding this type of 'equality', and learn to absorb it and perpetuate it. Arguing for the rights of men or for their emotional needs to be protected or for them to have equal social protections and legal standings is not something that will make you popular in our society. Men are not encouraged to think freely or to question this system of equality.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @08:01AM (#34979810) Journal
    It's just like we've been warning them for years: socialism leads to dependence on the government so severe that even anti-government protestors sit around on their asses waiting for an agent provocateur to provide them with a suitably illegal protest plan. Pathetic.

    Here in the good old land of yankee ingenuity, we just outlaw whatever internal sedition our plucky can-do citizens manage on their own, and then beat the shit out of it. If the supply proves insufficient, we ensure full employment for Our Heroes by surveilling those terrifying pacifist quakers(they might put the "fist" in "pacificist" at any moment, you can't be too careful) and the occasional pothead(Morally depraved, and responsible for 85% of Cheeto shoplifting incidents...).

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