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Open Invitation to Police Chiefs: Prove it.

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
London
9th February 2011 1.17pm
Sukey.org

Open Invitation to Police Chiefs: Prove it.

Sukey is a tool to keep protesters safe during demonstrations.

Sukey will never provide police with intelligence or information about the identity of protesters. Indeed, no such information is recorded or stored by Sukey. And nor will it ever be.

However since our goal is to keep peaceful protesters safe and freely exercising their democratic right to protest no one could ever think that our goals are at odds with yours in the police and we are happy to work with you insofar as our goals coincide.

Our multi-platform news, communications and logistical support system displays real-time police and protest behaviour, combining validated information sourced directly from protesters combined with feeds from twitter, facebook, SMS, RSS and others. There is a smartphone application and a regular phone version that each allow anyone to volunteer and receive information.

Sukey aims to keep peaceful protesters informed with live and local information that will assist them in avoiding injury, in keeping clear of trouble spots and in avoiding unnecessary detention. The application suite gives maximum relevant live information to those participating in a demonstration so that they can make informed decisions, as well as to those following from home who may be concerned about friends and family.

In operation, Sukey comprises a newsroom application and a set of mobile telephone applications designed to operate together with the objective of keeping demonstrators safe, informed and mobile.

Sukey was released on January 28th 2011 and field tested at the peaceful student protests in London on January 29th. Some say that Sukey is the reason that London was peaceful that day while parallel protests in Manchester and Edinburgh turned ugly.

Sukey was born out of the the violence shown by police to peaceful protesters and the brutal and anti-democratic practice of kettling demonstrators including children under 16 for hours on end in the freezing cold and denying them access to food, water or medical attention, conditions a senior doctor has suggested might lead to a repeat of a Hillsborough-type tragedy. Use of these tactics has also been condemned by the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s civil liberties panel Victoria Borwick.

We are particularly concerned that kettling is being used as a tactic to deter protest where better communication would be more effective for all involved.

We are an organisation that supports protesters and enables communication. Part of this support is in helping peaceful protesters in avoiding kettles, and part is to help them to exit from kettles that have formed.

Team Sukey welcomes today’s HMIC report and notes that among its conclusions it points out that police communications with protesters must be improved.

We were happy to take information put into the public domain on twitter by the police at the last protest and to treat it as the equal of information sent from protesters on the ground. We wish to extend an invitation to public order police departments to continue to work with Sukey in this manner.

Sukey are prepared to provide a point of contact for cooperating forces to help in getting their messages out to the protesters where there is a public order interest in doing so. The police will be treated as the equals of protesters and any information they send us will be rated for reliability. If they deliberately send false or misleading information, future messages will no longer be trusted.

To be considered for transmission, messages must conform to a set of agreed guidelines.  Notably, they must be informative to protesters and delivered in a non-didactic and non-authoritarian way.

For example the message “Do not stray from the agreed route” would not be acceptable to Team Sukey for retransmission.  A message such as “Warning from Police to protesters who have strayed onto The Mall: We will be arresting those still present in 10 minutes” would be considered fit for retransmission.

For protesters and existing Sukey users – it is our intention that messages that come from the police force will be clearly marked as such and you will be able to easily distinguish messages from Sukey and fellow protesters from those of the police.  The intention is to improve your safety, to allow the police to warn of impending kettles and to provide them with a means of communicating with peaceful and vulnerable protesters and provide them with directions on how to leave a kettle.

For the police we say – you say kettling is a practice of last resort.  Prove it. You say there’s always a way to leave a kettle. Prove it.  Our goal is to keep people safe; you say that’s your goal too.  Work with us and Prove it.

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