Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents?

Kevin Meagher covers the eviction at Dale Farm, and asks what the police meant by “intelligence” they had about the tactics of protestors and the defences they had erected, which saw officers “fully equipped” to counter them.

As police and bailiffs this morning moved in to clear the illegal Dale Farm traveller site in Essex, they faced tough questioning about their heavy-handed tactics which has so far seen two people tasered, seven arrests and several people receive treatment from the ambulance service for injuries sustained during the eviction.

An on-site press conference this morning saw both Conservative leader of Basildon Borough Council, Tony Ball, and Superintendent Trevor Roe of Essex Police repeatedly refer to the “intelligence” they had about the tactics of protestors and the defences they had erected, which saw officers “fully equipped” to counter them.

This raises an intriguing question as to whether the police have undercover officers operating among the protestors at Dale Farm providing them with their intelligence.

An Essex police spokesman refused to be drawn either way when asked by Left Foot Forward saying they would not put that kind of information into the public domain.

Coincedentally, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is set to publish a report this week into the controversial case of PC Mark Kennedy, the undercover policeman who infiltrated the environmental protest movement – and whose explosive admissions back in January led to the collapse of cases against campaigners charged with trying to occupy the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire last year.

The report, written by the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bernard Hogan-Howe (while he was serving with HMIC), is expected to strongly criticise the failure to properly supervise his activities as an undercover operative, which included engaging in sexual relationships with those he was spying on.

It will be the first of eight separate reports from policing agencies into the issue of undercover police officers. As Left Foot Forward put it at the time:

“focusing scarce police resources on expensive and seemingly unproductive enviro-spookery is…a questionable use of resources.”

Meanwhile back at Dale Farm, St. Helens council has hit out at suggestions from Basildon council that the travellers could be moved 200 miles north to live in the Merseyside borough instead.

Councillor Barrie Grunewald, deputy leader of St Helens council, said:

“Basildon wrote to all local authorities asking if there was any spare capacity on traveller sites. We wrote back to them saying we had eight spare pitches, but this was clearly not an adequate solution.

“I’m surprised and annoyed to see St Helens keeps being used as a fig leaf for Basildon’s failure to make enough provision for its own residents. We are always ready to help, but they should stop bandying St Helens around as some sort of alternative destination and put their own house in order.”

Despite having the forethought to bring in expensive external spin doctors, Basildon council clearly has no effective plan to deal with the 400 travellers who will be evicted from Dale Farm, including many vulnerable adults and 100 children.

Despite a range of voices calling for a more pragmatic approach – including local Christian clergy – the council presses on with its ideological crusade. As Labour MEP for the East of England, Richard Howitt, today put it:

“The smoke above Dale Farm is the most visible sign of the failure of Basildon Council to seek a mediated solution.”

See also:

End of the road for Dale Farm?Kevin Meagher, October 13th 2011

Basildon’s hired spin doctor complains at “emotive” tactics of TravellersKevin Meagher, September 2nd 2011

The ‘Dalits’ of Dale Farm have needs tooKevin Meagher, September 1st 2011

18 Responses to “Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents?”

  1. Pissed Proletariat

    Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents? | Left Foot Forward //t.co/lNXZDHIz

  2. Pissed Proletariat

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/9DTQYKCI

  3. Lucy Ashton

    Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/9GCxf6bZ

  4. Protestwatch.org.uk

    #Protest Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents?: Coincedentally, Her Maj… //t.co/BJnEAfZA

  5. Altered Squid

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/0oUHZRRQ

  6. Political Planet

    Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents?: Kevin Meagher covers the evictio… //t.co/y2UpIogs

  7. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/cNOIHB3V

  8. Tiger Gray

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/cNOIHB3V

  9. Keffy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/cNOIHB3V

  10. Conor McGurran

    Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents, asks Kevin Meagher: //t.co/9GCxf6bZ

  11. Selohesra

    Giving the shocking violence displayed by the protestors and witnessed round the world on the live TV footage it was lucky they did have this inteligence – surely any responsible authority should gather such inteligence. Imagine the scenes if unprotected bailiffs had gone in only to have their heads staved in with shovels & rocks.

  12. Rob the crip

    You’d be an idiot to go in without information, under cover Police or people working for the Police are part of the intelligence needed, why do you think it’s wrong.

  13. Planit betta

    I do not condone the violence shown towards the police but once again it’s police overkill, with more police than travellers and protesters combined, smashing a wall down while distracting those at the main entrance, several injuries and improper/illegal use of tasers doesn’t sound conciliatory to me. A complete waste of public money. And all over what had been a scrapyard and was OWNED by the travellers, not nice green countryside, which you might have expected from the frequent references to greenbelt.
    An outrageous attack on people trying to settle in a community in their own way, but as usual attacked by the local nimby community, aided by a council that has failed to fulfil its obligations. Sheer hypocrisy.
    Before you ask, there is a traveller community on an established site about a mile from me and social housing immediately behind my house. Like any community there are good and bad. Kent Police say the bad form the same proportion of their society as in the rest of the population.
    None of this would have happened if genuine efforts had been made to relocate them nearby, or even find a way to let them stay.

  14. D Carter

    “…it’s police overkill, with more police than travellers and protesters combined,”

    I’m really not a fan of the police in general, I think a lot of them are bullies in uniform who get off on having power over others, however, it simply wouldn’t be safe for the protesters, travellers or the officers themselves if they didn’t outnumber them by a ratio of at least 3 to 1. It is unsafe for one officer to arrest a violently resisting person by his/herself.

    Say I was to try and arrest you by myself and you were trying to resist, unless I’m a LOT bigger and stronger (which is unlikely) I’m going to end up hurting you or you’re going to end up hurting me. It’s going to be messy either way.

    Now I’m not saying they don’t/didn’t use excessive force, I’m merely trying to explain why they had to use greater numbers.

    “A complete waste of public money. And all over what had been a scrapyard and was OWNED by the travellers, not nice green countryside, which you might have expected from the frequent references to greenbelt.”

    Can’t say I agree with this bit either, it’s irrelevant whether you think the land was ‘nice’ or not. There are planning laws, which if you don’t like you must challenge using the democratic process. The law says you can’t settle on land without going through the proper processes just because you own it. I, and it would seem to me the majortiy of people, think that’s a fundamental cornerstone of our civilisation. For them to say ‘stuff you’re laws, we’ll do what we want’ isn’t on.

    The fact they own the land leaves me feeling less sympathy for them. Land is incredibly expensive. When I was a child I lived in a hostel for a couple of months when our private landlord decided he wanted his house back and kicked us out, we had two weeks notice – not ten years! Then we got a housing association house.
    These people, who as far as I’m aware don’t pay concil tax, were offered accomodation by the council which they turned their noses up, (unless the council are explicitly lying). I don’t remember legions of white-with-dreadlocks middle class people turning up to protest when I was made homeless by a property owner (which is, perversely, what these ‘travellers’ are, according to you, if they own this land).

    I’d also like to make a wider point, not direct at ‘Planit betta’ in particualr… When it comes to economic policy I would say I was pretty much left wing but why is it ‘left wing’ to defend the indefensible on issues such as this, foreign criminals, illegal immigrants etc etc… Is there a political party that will maintain a publicly owned NHS but recognises that allowing ghettos of illegal immigrants (remember, wider point, im not talking about travellers) to thrive in our cities is not good for our society?

    I doubt it, the impression I’m left with is that the ‘left’ consists of London-centric paternalistic middle-class people, the likes of who are disdainfully dismissive of the views of ordiary working class people.

  15. Tory council has Labour MEP physically thrown out from Dale Farm | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Did “intelligence” on Dale Farm protestors come from undercover police agents? – Kevin Meagher, October 19th […]

  16. scandalousbill

    D Carter,

    You say:

    “The law says you can’t settle on land without going through the proper processes just because you own it. I, and it would seem to me the majority of people, think that’s a fundamental cornerstone of our civilisation. For them to say ‘stuff you’re laws, we’ll do what we want’ isn’t on.”

    Is it not also the cornerstone of our civilization and democracy that the minority are entitled to the protection of the law? Any notion of majority rule in a democracy does not mean that the minority is automatically deprived of their right to protection by law enforcement. It does not provide or empower the majority to use any means at their disposal to have their demands carried out. Is a landlord entitled to beat an evicted tenant into submission should they resist his order? Does crossing the street away from the intersection entitle the motorist to run over the offending pedestrian?
    Eviction is a civil matter, not a criminal offence nor an insurrection. The police arrived, armed with tasers and other riot gear and forcefully used these devices which can and have inflicted lethal wounds indiscriminately upon anyone who stood in their way. This was not the rule of law but the abuse of the law to inflict deliberate harm on a specific group. Justice was not served by these actions.

  17. Ed's Talking Balls

    Given how quickly people jump on the police for doing a bad job (G20, student riots, recent looting, etc), I feel it’s only right that when the police do a good job they should be given credit for it.

    Here, they did well to gather intelligence that trouble was planned (to be honest, this was bloody obvious, given the presence of the usual agitators/rent-a-mob) and used appropriate force against violent criminals. I’m entirely relaxed about that.

    Basildon Council and the police have acted to ensure that the law is upheld. Good on them.

  18. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘I doubt it, the impression I’m left with is that the ‘left’ consists of London-centric paternalistic middle-class people, the likes of who are disdainfully dismissive of the views of ordiary working class people.’

    One of the very best comments I’ve ever read on a blog. Extremely well said, sir.

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