All organisations develop myths about themselves and it must be remembered that the best myths contain a core of reality. The police force is no exception.
Cecil Moriarty in his Police Procedure and Administration * said:
“Like the English Constitution, the police service was not created; and it has taken ten centuries to develop into the system now existing.”
The myth that he promoted, perhaps created, was that there had been an unbroken evolution from the Anglo-Saxon tithingman system to the police forces of his day. The tithingman system was one in which all free men had a collective responsibility for policing within their own area. He suggested that the creation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and of County and Borough forces in 1839 was simply the placing of this collective responsibility in the hands of paid professionals –that it was an incremental change rather than a qualitative one.
I suppose that the core of the myth about the police force is that it has developed from the bottom upwards as a benign mutual protection system and not as a top-down repressive system.
It is true that there are remnants of the old system in modern Common Law – the obligation of members of the public to assist police officers when called upon to do so**. It could be said that the introduction of directly elected police and crime commissioners in 2012 was an attempt to lend credence to the myth of accountability to the public within a limited area. Even the previously existing police committees comprising mainly county and borough councillors had an element of public accountability.
The police forces in England & Wales and Scotland are for the most part unarmed or at least without guns, despite a growing use of firearms by criminals.
There have always been corrupt officers. I was the victim of one who fabricated a public order case against me out of absolutely nothing, attributing absurd and literally incredible words to me and my colleagues. Fortunately, my employers saw the case for what it was and I retained my job and my career. I still do not know whether he did this on his own initiative or was acting under orders from above.
There is undoubtedly an agenda on the part of senior officers to criminalise opponents of the Political Class and in particular to criminalise Nationalists. However, there have also been some fine officers who have dealt with us fairly and conscientiously.
The most sinister developments have been connected with ACPO – the Association of Chief Police Officers. It started innocently enough in 1948 providing a forum for common concerns and helping forces to liaise over cross border crime.
In more recent years, ACPO’s actions have become highly political and highly partisan. The central words of the police officer’s oath, “with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality,” have been cast aside. Its members act corruptly and with gross partiality. It was a decision of ACPO that any police officer found to be a member of the late British National Party should be summarily dismissed. Officers could be members of Provisional Sinn Fein (political wing of the Provisional IRA), the Irish Republican Socialist Party (political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army), Republican Sinn Fein (political wing of the Continuity IRA) or even the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee (political wing of the Real IRA, which is still murdering soldiers and police officers in Northern Ireland). However, you could not be a member of the British National Party.
High Court Judge Macpherson, who conducted an enquiry into the death of a Black teenager in London, coined the phrase ‘institutionally racist’ to describe the Metropolitan Police. I would describe ACPO as ‘institutionally anti-British’. Banning police officers from being members of one and only one political party (I suspect it will soon be two!) is a coded message to officers at all levels: “These people are different from all others; make sure you treat them differently. They are not entitled to the rights that belong to legitimate parties; they should be deprived of their rights and prosecuted whenever possible”. It is to the credit of many police officers that they disregard this coded message and adhere to their police officer oath.
Special Branch (originally the Special Irish Branch) in the Metropolitan Police Force, with associated officers in other forces, existed from 1883 until 2006. In the provinces, it employed bored jobsworth officers who wrote notes on the back of cigarette packets on political activists beyond the old parties and transferred them to files in triplicate in bursting, grubby and battered filing cabinets. They gathered their useless information from naïve, friendless and lonely political activists who sometimes provided them with tea and a biscuit, with the latest gossip about the Tooting Revolutionary Front. Any serious surveillance was carried out by MI5.
In October 2006, the Metropolitan Police Force merged its Special Branch (SO12) with the Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13) to form the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), apparently after consultation with ACPO. This Command works through a series of sub-units such as the National Counter Terrorism Network and the Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism. To the extent that they are protecting us from real terrorist threats, they deserve our full support.
However, it has another sub-unit called the National Domestic Extremism Unit, which despite its name, is not concerned with warring spouses wielding Kalashnikovs or even char-ladies showing their militant side. It was created from the merger of the National Domestic Extremism Team and the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit at the instigation of ACPO. In January 2011, ACPO directed the Metropolitan Police Force to become ‘the lead force’ for this Unit.
You are probably beginning to think that these organisational distinctions and changes are sounding like a police version of the scene in The Life of Brian in which we were presented with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea as distinct from the Judean Popular Liberation Front, as well as one that we have all forgotten.
What is the significance of all this?
Terrorism has a fairly precise legal definition*** and the state must employ all of its resources to bring the culprits to justice. It does not matter whether the perpetrator is an Islamist, a deluded masonic Zionist like Breivik, a murderous Irish revolutionary or a paranoid schizophrenic and traducer of Nationalism like Copeland. Whatever the cause, terrorism is utterly beyond the pale.
However, there is no legal definition of ‘extremism’. According to The Guardian in 2009****, some (unnamed) senior officers devised what they called (worryingly) ‘a vague stab’ at a definition:
“Domestic extremists are individuals or groups that carry out criminal acts of direct action in furtherance of a campaign. These people and activities usually seek to prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy but attempt to do so outside of the normal democratic process”.
I am not sure what the last six words mean but I would not quarrel with the police seeking to prevent ‘extremism that is so defined. However, this is not an official definition and the police practical definition would seem to go way beyond those who commit criminal acts and would seem to embrace those of us of whose the Political Class, which includes ACPO, disapproves.
We in the Nationalist Movement are ‘extremists’ in the eyes of ACPO in a way in which the political wings of various brands of the IRA are not. Why else would police officers be banned from being Nationalists but not terrorist sympathisers and spokesmen?
The Metropolitan Police’s own website describes one of the functions of the Counter Terrorism Command as:
“Working with communities, partners, institutions, groups and other agencies providing advice and support to tackle the ideologies that drive terrorism and extremism”.
If ‘extremism’ is extended to include ideologies as well as planned actions, the police see their task as essentially political. I have no objection to police keeping surveillance on our activities, if that is necessary to keep them in their sad little jobs. We have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed about. However, I would be concerned if public money were to be spent opposing our ideology and policies.
Choices of language and categories are important. They convey messages beyond the obvious and literal meanings. Once you have the same police unit investigating ‘terrorism’ (well defined) and ‘extremism’ (undefined but clearly including Nationalists), police officers, the media and the public see them as indistinguishable. The words ‘extreme’ and ‘extremist’ are routinely used in the media to describe people setting of bombs and Nationalists distributing leaflets. The two forms of ‘extremism’ are conflated into a single entity.
I have never so much as thrown a rotten egg or an uncomplimentary message at a political opponent but I am regarded by the police force of England and Wales as a potential-terrorist just waiting to commit my first outrage. Indeed, my speeches on third world immigration in the European Parliament are sometimes greeted as though they were incendiary devices.
*Police Procedure and Administration by C.C.H. Moriarty (Fourth Edition 1944 – first published in November 1930).
**This was upheld in R. v. Brown 1841; R. v. Sherlock 1866; and R. v. Waugh 1956. However, it is doubtful that cases such as these would be brought before the courts today.
***The United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act 2000 defined terrorism as follows:
(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where:
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it:
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
The Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism so as to include not only violent offences against persons and physical damage to property, but also acts “designed seriously to interfere with or to seriously disrupt an electronic system” if those acts are (a) designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and (b) be done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
****Article by Rob Evans, Paul Lewis and Matthew Taylor in the Guardian 25th October 2009