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Human Rights

Carpenters: UCL Students vow to continue struggle despite 'intimidation'

Students have vowed to continue their struggle against UCL's proposals for a Stratford campus after being forced to end their occupation in solidarity with residents of the Carpenters Estate in Stratford. They were served with an injuction after beginning the sit-in on Wednesday 28th after an inconclusive UCL General Council meeting, which failed to agree the University's plan to develop the housing estate at Carpenters Road, Stratford, as a new campus. Students and academic staff have been expressing concern at the plans and offering support to residents over the past months but UCL has pressed ahead regardless in its collaboration with Newham Council prompting the sit-in.


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Blacklisting - Ian Kerr comes clean

So now we have it from the horse's mouth. Ian Kerr of The Counsulting Association has given evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee that 'Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and possibly Skanska' had used his services to run blacklisting checks on workers employed on the Olympic Park.


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Have you seen one of our drones?

A neighbour of a friend, who was staying in Bow, told him the police had asked him one day during the Olympics: 'have you seen one of our drones?' It seems a drone crashed somewhere in Bow! Just in case this was an urban legend I thought I would make a Freedom of Information request to check out whether any drones had been in use and if any had crashed. The Met was not exactly forthcoming and fell back on the argument that national security was at stake and any revelation would be of benefit to criminals or terrorists.

Given that we are under constant surveillance from CCTV cameras and helicopters, even more so during the Olympics in the vicinity of Stratford, I have to wonder why the use of drones should not be revealed. Informing the public that they are in use should not compromise operations as UAVs can be deployed without the knowledge of those being observed far more easily than helicopters or publicly situated cameras. To reveal the operations of drones after the event would not compromise operations at the time and may even assist in ensuring the guilty are convicted, rather than the innocent, if film of an event is available because a drone was in use. Of course this would not be possible if the presence of a drone is not revealed.

The idea that revealing the use of drones would alert criminals and terrorists to police activity in a particular area and mean 'More crime would be committed' seems pretty fanciful. Criminals and terrorists are, by their nature, likely to assume they are being watched. Knowing that drones were being deployed might even act as a deterrent and make them more cautious about perpetrating crimes. But if it really was the case that there was a particularly sensitive case where revelation would compromise an operation then plainly exceptions could be made. In the particular case of the Olympics it is hard to see any justification for refusing to reveal their use as plainly everyone knows where the Olympics were being held and that there was a massive security operation in place, so it is not going to alert any criminals or terrorists, especially as the event is now well in the past. The exception claimed by the police is not to conceal but to reveal and in the case of the Olympics makes no sense at all.

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2012100003430

I respond in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 29th October 2012. I note you seek access to the following information:

1. Did the Met Police use any drones (unmanned surveillance aircraft) during the Olympics?
2. If yes, when and where were they deployed?
3. If yes, were there any accidents involving drones?
4. Were any drones lost, did any crash?
5. If yes - where did such accidents or losses occur?

DECISION

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (the Act), this response represents a Refusal Notice for this request under Section 17(1) of the Act.

The MPS can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Act does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain security bodies.
Section 24(2) National Security.
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement

REASONS FOR DECISION

Should it be held, constituents of this information would attract Section 23, other constituents 24 and other constituents attract Section 31 of the Act.

It should not be surmised that should the information be held by the MPS we would be applying Sections 23, 24 & 31 to the same pieces of information.

Please see the legal annex for the sections of the Act that are referred to in this response.

Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test

Sections 24, and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or not that the information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.

Overall harm for neither confirming nor denying that any other information is held

Any disclosure under the Act is a disclosure to the world at large, and by confirming or denying the use of this specialist equipment at certain events, would show the criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of the MPS are, allowing them to target specific areas of the UK to conduct their terrorist activities.

To confirm or deny that this type of police tactic has or has not been used would enable those engaged in criminal or terrorist activity to identify the focus of policing activity across the UK. This would have the likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would ultimately compromise police tactics, operations and future prosecutions as criminals could counteract the measures used against them.

The MPS neither confirms nor denies that such tactics have been used because to state that no information is held for one event regarding UAVs, and then exempt information held in another, would itself provide acknowledgement that UAV's have been used at that second event.

Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both National Security and law enforcement.

Public safety would be put at risk if it were confirmed or denied that UAV's were known to be used or conversely, were known not to have not been used at specific events.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31

By confirming or denying when or where UAV's are used, would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.

Factors against confirmation or denial for S31

By confirming or denying the use of UAV's, law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.

More crime would be committed and individuals would be placed at risk.

Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S24

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and by confirming or denying whether UAV's were or are used would lead to a better-informed public

Factors against confirmation or denial for S24

By confirming or denying when, where and why UAV's are used within the MPS area would render security measures less effective. This would lead to the compromise of ongoing or future operations to protect the security or infrastructure of the UK and increase the risk of harm to the public.

Balance test

The security of the country is of paramount importance and the MPS will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would place the safety of the public at risk or undermine National Security. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the MPS is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by the criminal fraternity, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this area.

As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.

Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying whether the MPS uses UAV's is not made out.

No inference can be drawn from this response as to the existence or not of any other information.


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Running on black: Blacklisting at the stadium?

Back in the Spring of 2011 Daletech Services sacked Frank Morris after he raised concerns about the dismissal of a fellow worker. The co-worker's name had appeared on a blacklist used by Olympics contractors Skanska and Carillion, who were constructing the Media Centre where the dismissed electrician was working. Recently further accusations of blacklisting at the Olympics have been made against Sir Robert McAlpine, who paid Consulting Association £26,842.20, including a spike of £12,839.20 for 5,836 blacklist checks back in the period July to September 2008 shortly after McAlpine started work on the Olympic Stadium in May 2008.


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Calais: Olympics border control repression

Corporate Games graphicfrom Corporate Watch

Members of the group Calais Migrant Solidarity tell Corporate Watch about how the repression of migrants in Calais increased as a direct result of the London Olympics, how corporations have benefited from this and how Olympics sponsors are causing further problems in France. Calais Migrant Solidarity is part of the No Borders network and works with migrants in Calais to gather evidence of police violence and harassment of migrants and to strengthen resistance to the border regime.


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The Corporate Games!

Following the awarding of the Greenwash Gold Medal to Rio Tinto at a ceremony in Trafalgar Square when custard was poured over 'representatives' of the the three nominated companies, Rio Tinto, BP and Dow Chemical, who were then arrested by over-zealous police, War on Want organised the Adidas Exploitation Not Ok Anywhere Price Tags...


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London Plays Games - Podcast

"Mega-events, such as the Olympic Games, have often been described as a preferred tool of place promotion and marketing and a primary connection between the local and the global. The Olympics are a global spectacle literally taking place in a single locale. Olympic Games are tightly interwoven into the urban economy and (re-)development schemes. They are also an increasingly important driver in the creation of new leisure and consumption spaces and the interests of international property firms. Like all mega-events, the Olympics are almost exclusively urban phenomena that require large public and private investments."


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Control to Police - journalist alert! journalist alert!

It's a daily occurrence at Draper's Field. Once again the police, this time two very pleasant officers from Glasgow, came to check out an Italian camera crew. We were on the pavement so entirely on public ground. It made no difference! So you can sit on a wall, be on the path inside the perimeter of Draper's Field or on the public pavement outside it, filming or just voice recording, but you will still be stopped. You can even have all the necessary accreditation but they will still come and ask what you are doing. The security guards don't get involved any more after multiple confrontations and being told it's none of their business. Their guy in the control room just calls the police.


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