Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Police Operation SWAMP 81 Returns To Brixton This Thursday

No to Operation SWAMP Brixton 2014. (Now cancelled!) 

Saturation Policing Aggravates Police/Community Relations
This Thursday 6th March 2014 will see the return of the discredited policing tactic Operation SWAMP to central Brixton. The discredited policing tactic that saw hundreds of officers literally swamp local communities triggered the civil rights uprising of 1981.

Now refreshed and re-branded as a Lambeth Council led initiative and beautifully named  Brixton Unites, the tactic sees its return under the broad banner of the Met Commissioners Total Policing initiative.

Given the total breakdown of relationships between the Metropolitan Police and the local Black community, the local council has been persuaded to take the lead in an attempt to soften the impact on what will be a extremely aggressive enforcement activity whose stated aim is 'to make Brixton feel safer'.

What is planned is unprecedented in the local area in terms of its scale and the fact that no consultation has taken. No surprise there given the mayor of London and Met Commissioners appalling record on community engagement.

The SWAMP Brixton day will begin with Trident Anti Gang Unit raids starting around 6am and last until the early evening.

In addition there will be drug enforcement units using sniffer drugs in the center of Brixton, parking enforcement will be ruthlessly enforced and Traffic police cars will be stopped and checked for tax and insurance, British Transport Police will check tickets at the Tube and use drugs dogs in the station. Immigration officers from UKBA will be targeting suspected illegal immigrants and Council Officers will hit all the shops with health and safety inspections, rough sleepers will be moved on and street drinkers arrested.

There will be a huge search for weapons. Abandoned vehicles will be towed away and the Truancy team will be targeting children throughout the day. All this will be filmed by the BBC as part of a documentary on the MPS.

What is remarkable is virtually no consultation has taken place with local communities about this massive enforcement operation taking place in two days time.  Neither the Council nor the Police have seen fit to consult in any meaningful manner beyond their usual group of compliant pro police partners.

Given that tensions are running high in the aftermath of the Mark Duggan verdict this operation feels both oppressive and disproportionate. It is beyond belief that no one thought it necessary to consult with the community about this Total Policing operation designed to send a clear political message form the Met "We control the streets" and Council seeking to luck tough on crime in the run up to local elections in May.

This operation must not be allowed to go ahead if the important principle of policing b consent is to mean anything at all. At the last public meeting recently organised by the Mayor Office for Policing and Crime in Lambeth resulted in the Met the sheer anger at the Met and the Mayor was palpable.

It is my view that this SWAMP operation is designed to send a clear message to local communities and that is the Police are a law unto themselves. The focus will be on the Coldharbpour Lane ward where we have seen an influx of new well organised middle class resident,  slumming it from Chelsea and demanding that police and Council take actions

I hear that new residents on Coldharbour Lane are already making noise complaints about established black business of many years standing who for years have played music outside their shops.As these new resident move in they demand the ambiance and policing that they enjoyed in areas such as Chelsea and Richmond.  This SWAMP policing operations also speaks to the politics of policing, post the Mark Duggan verdict, it has a focus on press public relations management, short term electoral gain,  reputation management and gentrification than it has to do with tackling crime.

If this goes ahead,  we need as many people out monitoring and  filming activity, providing rights on arrest cards, immigration advice, taking pictures and advising juveniles of their legal rights. I intend to be out there for the entire day and would encourage others to come and join me. I will be in Windrush Square Brixton from 1pm please join me.

No doubt this operation is more to do with the ongoing rapid gentrification of Brixton than it has to do with tackling crime.

We simply cannot allow these bully boy policing tactics to take place in Brixton, the Council and the police simply cannot be allowed to impose a style of policing upon our local community at the behest of another.

Community consultation cannot be simply dismissed as an unnecessary adjunct to tackling crime particularly in areas where relations with the police are strained. Lack of communication in such circumstances could potentially be catastrophic. We cannot have drug dogs, immigration deportation teams, traffic enforcement cops British Transport police parking officers and many others simply swamp a community where relations are so bad.

There is a meeting of Lambeth Police Consultative group taking place this evening Tuesday 4th March at 5.30 at the Karibu Education Center Gresham Road SW9 where I will be raising these and other issues. Please do come along and have your say.

No to Operation SWAMP Brixton 2014