Despite widespread myths that the British police are unarmed and govern through consent, paramilitary-style policing has a long and ugly history in the UK and across the British Empire. This report looks at the increasingly blurry line between the police and military and the role of the UK in militarised policing globally.
Challenging the idea that war and policing are fundamentally different powers, it examines the evolution of Britain’s policing industrial complex. It shows how a war mentality has infiltrated policing at various levels – from counter-terrorism to anti-protest policing to border control to the policing of gangs.
After discussing the development of repressive policing practices and laws over recent decades, the report looks at the various ways in which new surveillance technologies, sometimes based on military-grade equipment, have been adopted by British police forces to surveil the population, heavily swinging the balance of power in favour of the state. The report then explores the key role of the UK in the spread of militarised policing internationally, whether through export of anti-protest equipment, training of foreign police forces, or through major UK police contracts with foreign companies selling security technology and equipment.
The report concludes by discussing the various ways in which ordinary people and civil society in the UK are resisting these trends.
The report was launched at an online panel discussion on Thursday 3rd August.
Download the Executive Summary
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