Private security industry and the police: revolving door

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Transferable skills and alliances: police and private security industry

Targeting and infiltrating public protest campaigns

Questions have been raised regarding the ethics of "former police officers cashing in on their surveillance skills for a host of companies that target protesters".[1]

Former Special Branch

  • One example of Special Branch providing transferable skills is Rod Leeming, a director of Global Open and a former Special Branch officer. Until he left the police in 2001, he admits he regularly infiltrated undercover operatives into protest groups in his role as head of the Animal Rights National Index. The animal rights movement subsequently became one of the main focusses of NETCU which polices "domestic extremism".[2] However, he insists Global Open does not infiltrate activist groups. He told The Guardian the company only advises firms on security. The newspaper concluded however that Global Open "appears to have access to well-sourced intelligence".[3]
  • Gordon Irving was a senior officer who worked for Special Branch for 30 years before becoming director of security for Scottish Power in 2001. The energy company has been criticised for the social and environmental impacts of its projects.[4] Leaked documents exposed Gordon Irving emailing private spying company Vericola, gathering intelligence on the Climate Camp campaigns.[1] This example of proximity between the police and large corporations, formal or informal, may raise doubts about the the possibility of an entirely unbiased police force.

Former Scotland Yard

  • Another company monitoring protesters is the Inkerman Group, which employs former Met commissioner Peter Imbert as a strategic adviser. A "restricted" report produced by the company three years ago warns of a growing threat of "eco-terrorism". Under a section on "recent acts of eco-terrorism", the document lists a number of peaceful campaign groups, including the anti-aviation collective Plane Stupid.[1] Arguably it has been this elusive threat of "eco-terrorism", sometimes tainted with the conflation between "illegal" and "violent" protest, that serves to justify the need for both the domestic extremism units and the private security firms.[5]
  • Peter Bleksley, director and co-owner of a business intelligence company, was a founder member of Scotland Yard's undercover unit in the 1980's.[6] Speaking as a former undercover police officer, when questioned about the Kennedy affair in an an interview for BBC2, confirms that there are currently more police officers embedded in the movement and that "there are also people from the private security sector working against climate campaigners".[7] A SpinWatch article commenting on Bleksley's words reflected that "the language itself is telling. Not ‘protestors’, but ‘campaigners’. Targeted not for taking illegal direct action, but simply for holding a view. And not simply monitoring: the ‘against’ testifies to an agenda in policing".[8]
  • After ending his work for NPOIU Mark Kennedy, controversially, carried on his life undercover within the UK environmental movement, keeping his fake name but working within the private security industry. In his interview with The Daily Mail, Kennedy claims to have worked as a consultant for Global Open.[11] In February 2010 Kennedy set up his own private security firm, naming it after the sci-fi reference Tokra.[1]

Former Special Forces



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Green groups targeted polluters as corporate agents hid in their ranks The Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 14/02/11 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Evans2" defined multiple times with different content
  2. LEADING ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST SENTENCED, ACPO press release, 25 February 2005.
  3. Rob Evans, Amelia Hill, Paul Lewis and Patrick Kingsley Mark Kennedy: secret policeman's sideline as corporate spy The Guardian, 13/01/11, accessed 17/ 01/11
  4. Terry Macalister BP joins renewable power campaign group, The Guardian, 27/12/06, accessed 22/02/11
  5. Matilda Gifford Why spy on peaceful protesters? The Guardian, 26/04/09, accessed 17/01/11
  6. Contributor's profile Peter Bleksley, The Guardian, accessed 22/02/11
  7. Kirsty Wark, NewsNight "BBC2" 10/01/11, accessed 11/01/11
  8. Tilly Gifford Unmasking the environmental infiltrators, SpinWatch, 19/01/11, accessed 22/02/11
  9. 9.0 9.1 LinkedIn, Stephen Beels, accessed 1 March 2011
  10. Scribd, ASIS Spring 2008 Newsletter - new members,p.10, accessed 1 March 2011
  11. Caroline Graham 'I'm the victim of smears': Undercover policeman denies bedding a string of women during his eight years with eco-warriors, Mail on Sunday, 16/01/11, accessed 25/02/11
  12. Diligence Website, New Leadership and Expanded Office Will Help Meet Rising Demand for Risk Management Services, 03/01/06, accessed 23/02/11