When asking someone to pay their tax is considered extremism there’s something wrong with the Police Force

Posted on

UK Uncut staged numerous protests in the UK on Sunday.

As I've made clear, I am not a spokesperson for UK Uncut although of course I have sympathy with their cause. Let's be clear what they're doing. They're asking people to pay the right amount of tax in the right place at the right time. It's hardly an act of political extremism is it?

And yet the police responded to this demand that people pay their tax - the tax that does of course pay for the police - with acts of violence.

I repeat the following from the Guardian verbatim, without apology, such is its significance:

Video footage has emerged that appears to show the moment a policeofficer used CS spray on protesters at Sunday's UK Uncut protest.

Hundreds of people staged sit-ins at high-street stores around the country as part of a day of action designed to highlight companies it says are avoiding millions of pounds in tax.

In London, protesters successfully forced a branch of Boots (one of the companies campaigners accuse of tax avoidance) in Oxford Street to close when police tried to arrest a woman for pushing a leaflet through the store's doors.

Footage obtained by the Guardian shows protesters chanting as officers attempt to make the arrest. In the background, a male police officer is seen using a spray from close range.

Three people were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries caused by the use of the spray, which Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) guidelines say is "one of a number of tactical options available to an officer who is faced with violence or the threat of violence".

"Its use must be lawful in all the circumstances," the guidelines say. "The decision to use the spray is an individual one for which the officer will be accountable."

Before Sunday's protest, Sir Hugh Orde, president of Acpo, had warnedthat police could adopt more extreme tactics to counter the growing wave of protests.

Orde criticised the lack of willingness of new protest groups that have sprung up around the internet, such as UK Uncut, to engage with police before protests. He said if they continued to refuse to co-operate, then police tactics would have to become more extreme.

"It is not good enough to throw our hands up in the air and say 'Oh, we can't negotiate because there is no one to negotiate with,'" he told Prospect magazine in an interview published on Thursday. "There are lots of people we can talk to, but they need to stand up and lead their people, too. If they don't, we must be clear that the people who wish to demonstrate won't engage, communicate or share what they intend to do with us, and so our policing tactics will have to be different ... slightly more extreme."

The Acpo guidelines state that CS spray should not be used at a distance of less than one metre from the target, "unless the nature of the risk to the officer is such that this cannot be avoided".

"In such cases, officers must be prepared to justify not only their use of the spray but also their decision to use it at a distance which may cause damage to eyes due to the discharge pressure of the liquid."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it was reviewing the circumstances of the incident.

When civil society is demanding that people obey the law and the police use violence to suppress that demand you know there is a profound malaise in the society in question. A malaise akin to corruption.

It seems to me that's the state we've reached in the UK.

The right to protest, peacefully, is a fundamental human right.

It is Sir Hugh Orde who is abusing human rights.

I sincerely hope successful prosecutions are brought against the police for this action. Those responsible deserve to be brought to account for the abuse they have perpetrated. And that's not just the officer who used the spray - but everyone up to Sir Hugh Orde who gave him permission to do so.