12 Apr 2010

Police accused of surveillance of protesters

6:19 pm on 12 April 2010

Police are being accused of intensive surveillance of legitimate protest groups.

Campaign organisation Peace Action Wellington has obtained documents under the Official Information Act, listing 84 police operation orders for public demonstrations in the year to June 2009.

These include police oversight of a candlelight vigil for Tibet and a bible group's presence at the United States embassy in Wellington.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson, Urs Signer, says the scale of the surveillance is chilling.

He says police are creating a climate of fear and intimidation, because there are often more police officers than protesters at such events.

Police are defending their presence at protests saying they have to be there to ensure safety and prevent disorder.

Police national manager for operations Superintendent Tony McLeod told Morning Report that officers attend only to police the actual demonstration, not to harass and intimidate protesters.