Bristol anarchist groups claim police use 'Stasi tactics'

Two of the cars damaged by fire Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption The targeted cars were parked in Blackcurrant Drive, Perry Road and Brook Close in Long Ashton

Police in Bristol are using "Stasi tactics" to harass people who hold left-wing views, anarchist groups in the city have claimed.

The claims follow police efforts to track down those behind a series of arson and criminal damage offences.

Sam, from Bristol Defendant Solidarity (BDS), said: "It most certainly does look like harassment to the people on the receiving end of it."

Police admitted visiting peoples' homes and workplaces but denied harassment.

Police say they are searching for a suspect called Huw Norfolk - also known as "Badger" - in connection with the attacks.

'Quite forceful'

Referring to the secret police in the former East Germany, Sam, who did not want to give his full name, said: "That often repeated saying, 'If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear' was invented by the Stasi.

"The tactics the police are using at the moment have quite a few resemblances to the tactics used by the Stasi and police forces throughout the world."

Eddie, another BDS member, said police had been visiting other anarchist organisations, "knocking on people's doors, going to people's houses, making wrongful arrests".

Workplaces and homes were also frequently visited and police were "quite forceful" with interrogations, he said.

Ch Supt Julian Moss, head of CID for Avon and Somerset Police, said: "If anybody has a complaint to make, it's important they come and talk to us and we would be happy to listen.

"We have given that offer and so far nobody's taken that up.

"We have been round to places of work to discuss anarchism and to understand the community better, that I am absolutely certain of. I think that is legitimate."

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