Council apology for misunderstanding social media intelligence & inappropriate delivery of information by the police

council_apology_letter

Background:

Police intimidation of queer anti-austerity activist in Brighton

Morning Star: Police monitored LGBT activist

Gay rights activist ‘intimidated’ by police over Pride bbq she knew nothing about

Thank you to Penny Thompson, Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council, for her straightforward apology for my experience with the police in the lead up to Pride.

Text of letter:

Pride 2014

Please may I offer you may apologies for the letter sent to you on 30 July 2014.

The Head of Regulatory Services, Tim Nichols, has investigated the matter for me, following e-mails received from Brighton Pavillion MP and City Councillors.

Tim has explained to me the preparation work that licensing and environmental health officers undertake each year for Pride. The officers value this fantastic community event, parade, entertainment and party, but from experience of previous years, they collaborate with Sussex Police to prevent unauthorised, licensable activities run outside the event organiser’s control. In previous years, such ‘raves’ have caused nuisance and anxiety to residents and presented risk to public safety.

Tim wishes to pass on his apologies. In reviewing social networking intelligence, officers misunderstood the information and then permitted their letter and information to you to be inappropriately delivered by the Police. There are two learning points for the officers to prevent any recurrence next year or at other large scale outdoor events:

  1. 1. Greater care will be taken over any information about residents published on social networking sites.
  2. 2. Council officers occasionally involve other agencies delivering documents. Police support may be helpful in particular circumstances. Careful consideration of the circumstances is necessary to avoid unnecessary negative impact on the recipient.

Pride represents a significant demand on the City Council’s regulatory service officer time each year. Nevertheless, officers must take appropriate care to protect residents from inappropriate intrusion and experiencing unnecessary anxiety.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Thompson CBE
Chief Executive

cc
Caroline Lucas MP
Cllr Christopher Hawtree
Cllr Mike Jones
Chief Supt Nev Kemp.

This makes me feel much better about the incident. However, I’m still unnerved by the fact that I know the police are monitoring my Facebook activity even around events not related to Pride, for which they have not explained their reasoning. For example, a Riots Not Diets gig which I didn’t even go to, two weeks before Pride, was on their list of events they’d ‘connected’ me to. (Did they think this was some kind of riot planning group?! It’s not.)

I did know the police monitored my Facebook from when they telephoned me two years ago to say, “good luck with your placard making workshop” based on a Facebook event I’d created for Queers Against Cuts. But it does seem a waste of time, effort, resources, for them to be making notes about my gig invitations!

Finally, while we’re all apologising, I want to apologise for an inappropriate comment I made in the Argus article about me not being an anarchist living in a squat. I’m not, but lots of my friends are. What I’d intended to suggest was that many people wouldn’t have been surprised that the police do monitor and intimidate anarchists living in squats, but that I was surprised they acted as if I was in charge of the whole radical/alternative Brighton queer scene. Not that their behaviour would’ve been OK if I was an anarchist living in a squat. Anyway, I shouldn’t have said that, and I do apologise.

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