Scotland Yard appears to be planning a major crackdown on students during an upcoming wave of protests as its counter-terrorism command has asked universities for related intelligence.
The force’s counter-terrorism unit has contacted universities in London, demanding their cooperation before student leaders go ahead with their pledge to organize occupations and demonstrations targeting town halls and civic buildings.
An officer for the command’s Prevent Programme charged with coping with extremism sent an email to universities saying the Met expects a “renewed vigour” in protests against government’s spending cuts which could target finance departments.
“I would be grateful if in your capacity at your various colleges that should you pick up any relevant information that would be helpful to all of us to anticipate possible demonstrations or occupations, please forward it onto me,” the email read.
According to a statement by the Met, the email sent to more than 20 higher education centres in London, including King’s and Imperial College, “advises contacts to consider contingency planning to minimize disruption to colleges, and for information that could help anticipate and address possible occupations.”
The statement claimed the officer has not acted in his capacity as a member of the Counter Terrorism Command when sending the advice to the universities.
Student leaders have promised major action plans for the end of January, which could equal in their scale to the massive anti tuition fee rallies in London and elsewhere last year which saw more than 50 universities’ buildings occupied by students.
Co-founder of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Michael Chessum, who was involved in calling last year’s protests, said they are “determined to keep the pressure on the government.”
Chessum also said a number of major trade unions, including Unite and the GMB, have thrown their weight behind the planned rallies in Manchester and London at the end of this month adding, “we are again expecting tens of thousands of people.”
Activists are also planning an “education strike” in London three days before the coordinated action in Manchester and London on January 29.