The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) turned 10 this week and, instead of presents, they’re asking for cash. Carl Spender is here to tell us why we should all dig deep.
For those not in-the-know: Netpol are the country’s premiere cop-watchers. Their job – which they do damned well – is to monitor what the cops are up to, both on protests and on the street, and challenge policing strategies which are excessive, discriminatory or threaten civil rights. They bring together many of the UK’s most experienced activists, lawyers and researchers, utilising their collective knowledge, experience and expertise to push-back against attacks on our rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. They are, in fact, the only organisation in the UK that works with grassroots activists and campaign groups to protect their freedom to protest.
Over the last ten years, they have:
- Provided expert legal rights information and guidance, helping activists to understand changing legislation and police tactics.
- Ensured activists have access to best possible legal representation by means of the Netpol Protest Solicitors List.
- Significantly improved coordination between defence lawyers.
- Campaigned to end Prevent, the government’s racist ‘anti-radicalisation’ programme.
- Campaigned against unwarranted intelligence-gathering and police surveillance.
- Mounted legal challenges and helped campaign groups to do the same.
In particular, Netpol has been at the forefront of resisting the labelling of political campaigners as ‘domestic extremists’. For those unfamiliar with the idea of ‘domestic extremism’, there are no better resources than Netpol’s own guides to the term’s (lack of) definition and the history of its spread through official discourse.
The inherently political nature of Netpol’s work means there are very few funding avenues available to them. After all, you can just imagine the horror on the face of the average charity trustee if they were to discover that “their money” was being used to promote masking-up on demonstrations.
For this reason, Netpol are attempting to crowdfund £10,000 for their ‘Protecting Freedom to Protest Fund’. Without this money, they will really struggle to continue their vital work in 2020. This would be an absolute disaster for all of us seeking to make the world a better place, because – whether you know it or not – if you’re an activist or campaigner in the UK, you have almost certainly benefitted from Netpol’s 10 years of service.
So: go to their crowdfund page and bung ‘em a few quid. No donation is too small, and every penny will be used to help protect your right to protest. Or, if that’s not enough to persuade you: think of the police. They would love nothing more than for Netpol to shut up shop; don’t give ‘em the pleasure.
Piss off a cop; fund Netpol.
Photo Credit: Guy Smallman