Without A Trace

A Forensics Manual for You and Me

To live outside the law you have to be honest

Note: this was written in the UK in the 1980s, so some of the information may be outdated now, or not relevant to other parts of the world.


This book is intended to go some way towards evening the balance between us and the police. It is not an in-depth study, more a commonsense guide to looking after yourself. The police try to get us to believe that they are all-powerful and all-knowing. Cobblers! If we use our heads we can run rings around them. I hope that you find this information useful, and that there is something new in it for you. If you think more things could be included , or said better, feel free to produce a version of your own. There is no copyright. Good luck and take care,


General Traces

Finger Prints

The science of finger print examination is called dactyloscopy. We are born with our finger prints, and we'll never be able to change them or get rid of them. Whenever you touch something with your fingertips you leave behind your calling card. The police will have a varying degree of difficulty in reproducing our prints depending on the surface upon which it lies. Obviously surfaces such as glass, marble, chrome etc, will be the easiest, whilst it is almost impossible to lift prints from brickwork or untreated wood. A fingerprints is basically the fatty, acidic residue left on a surface in the exact shape of the ridge lines of your fingertips. Because a finger print is composed of sweat, which is an acid, in some cases it will etch itself into metal. This is most likely to occur with crowbars, hammers, chisels, etc, and can be erased by rubbing down said tools with coarse wire wool after use. The police are continually perfecting their methods of print detection, because they are such a foolproof piece of personal identity. They can take prints from skin (if they really try), from tightly woven fabrics, especially synthetic ones, and paper

To convict, the police need to show 12 matching features of a fingerprint. In practice, these can be found on just one square centimeter of skin area. Finger prints are fairly hard to destroy, and even immersion in water will not do the job completely, so if you are going to throw something over the bridge, don't forget to wipe it down first. Unless an object is totally consumed , fire is also not a sure method of erasing prints, as a layer of carbon can cover them, and keep them recognizable. The older the print becomes, the harder it is to reproduce, although, in theory, it will last forever as long as it has not been disfigured. Fingerprints are kept on the PNC in the form of encoded data, and as such, do not need to be visually checked to be found to match. A specialist will analyze the fingerprint and turn it into a series of four digit numbers. These numbers are then entered into the PNC, which will return the location of any matching prints held by the Fingerprint Bureau at New Scotland Yard. These matches will be examined further in detail to see if any of the candidates presented by the PNC exactly matches those found at the scene of the crime. The PNC fingerprint index is used roughly 300,000 times a year. A new system of fingerprint recognition has been developed which involves hyper-computers, and which can visually translate a single print into unique and complex computer data, thus making positive ID from a partial found print possible. This system is not yet in use, but it should be in a few years.

The police show a great deal of interest in everyone's prints, to the extent that babies are now being fingerprinted at birth in some countries, in case they should get 'lost'. How touching! In the station, the police will always try and take your prints. Since the introduction of the Criminal Evidence Act, they have more or less complete freedom to do so, without having to go to a magistrate anymore. In theory, it is possible to smudge or blur our fingerprints. One way is to leave plenty of soap on your hands, after you've been made to wash them, and another is to try and 'help' the police. The idea is that you relax your fingers while they roll them over the sheet or glass (on scanning devices). If you apply too much pressure, or slide about a bit, you might smudge a couple. On the other hand, they might just tear them up and start again, or even tear you up and start again!

Glass Traces

Definitely one of the most important areas of forensics for people like us to know about. Every time that glass is smashed tiny shards of the stuff fly everywhere. For practical purposes it is wisest to assume that anyone even remotely near breaking glass is covered in the stuff. It sticks to things like shit to a blanket, especially loose fibered cloth, such as woolen hats. The only way to get rid of it is to throw away anything that you may have been wearing. Glass also likes to get imbedded into the soles of shoes. The police can identify different makes and types of glass, and therefore can put you at a certain place at a certain time. Fine, broken glass powder will stick to the smooth surfaces of tools, and fibers from your clothing will stick to the sharp edges of broken glass. The best way to break glass without covering yourself in traces is from a very long distance, using a powerful slingshot and marbles, or for toughened bank windows, steel ball bearings. Both ball bearings and marbles retain your prints well! Or why not try glass etching fluid? You can get it in craft shops, and with it you can write a message on a window that can never be removed, bar replacing the whole thing. N.B. In certain hard hit towns you have to sign for etching fluid, and in some instances shopkeepers report sales to police.

Dust Traces

For the police to convict you on the basis of dust traces takes a great deal of work on their part, involving painstaking work with powerful microscopes. The composition of dust in your clothes can tell them where you may have been (e.g. a metal foundry) and at what time of year (by identifying the spores of seasonal plants). By just washing your clothes thoroughly you can get rid of most of these traces, but as always, the safest thing is to ditch them. It is unusual, though not unknown for the police to use dust traces to convict. These traces are more useful as a last resort for clues, when other avenues have failed. They are chiefly used to find out where and for how long something has been; e.g. guns, bodies, stolen goods.

In brief, the investigation of these traces is only likely to come up in a serious case, and should you start to worry about traces this tiny, then paranoia is taking over from sensible precaution. If the police threaten to use them against you, then it indicates that they most likely have nothing better to go on.

Wood Traces

Wood will yield some information to the forensic investigator. It is possible for him/her/it to match species of wood to each other, even from samples as small as sawdust or splinters. If someone has been introducing your local fascist's head to a piece of 2 by 4, then a match can be made to the piece from which it was cut/sawed. When they remove said lump from your fascists head, it will be checked for foreign bodies, such as textile fibers, paint flakes, hairs, and other incriminating evidence. If a baseball bat were to used instead, and it is not disposed of, then it can be linked to the 'crime' by comparison with the splinters it has left in the skull as well as traces of varnish or resin, and the bat itself will carry traces of skin, hair, blood, not to mention matching dents! There is no point in keeping such weapons once they have been used.

Soil and Plant Traces

A forensic scientist can tell roughly where you have been from the composition of the dirt and soil that you have picked up on your travels. If, let's say, you've been keeping warm by standing next to a burning portacabin on a Laings building site, then traces of sand, cement, gypsum, gravel, lime, etc, will have collected on your shoes and clothes. By the same token, if you have been watching Lord Anthony Wedgewood Benn's stately ancestral home burn to the ground, then traces of earth from his garden will be upon you, as well as traces of plant life, such as pollen from the rare gladiolae that you may have brushed against. Once again, it is best to dispose of any clothing.

These traces are used to put you at a certain place, and in some instances, at a certain time. As with dust traces, don't let the police bluff a confession out of you by saying that these traces are cast iron evidence; they are certainly not and can be disputed in court.

Hair Traces

We all shed hair, and we shed it all the time. If we stay in one place for any length of time, than it is certain that we will leave samples of our hair in the vicinity. It is most likely to be lodged in the clothing of someone with whom you have just had close contact (i.e. the bishop you just throttled). Hair will tell the forensic expert many things; where it came from on the body (scalp, beard, crotch, eyebrows, nose, armpit), how long your hair is, whether it has been cut recently, whether you have shaved recently, if you have using any specific chemicals on it, such as dyes, oil, lotions, sprays, pomades, DDT, etc. They can also fall into the racial categories of Negroid, Caucasion or Mongoloid, or even mixtures of the three. They can tell your sex and blood type.

It is harder to tell the colour of your hair if, as individual strands differ from each other. It becomes easier if they possess more hairs. The good news is that conclusive proof of identity is NOT possible, [Ed. Note- I believe that this info. is dated. I think the DNA testing can be used for "precise" identification.] BUT they can prove your innocence, in much the same way that parentage can only be disproved through blood tests. On the other hand, if they have a sample of your hair and it is 2 foot long, dyed green, and you've used superglue on it to keep your Mohawk upright, than I'd imagine that they'd have a fair case for positive ID - Wear a tight fitting hat.

Shoe Traces

There are thousands of styles and sizes of footwear and each one is distinctive, even more so when it has been worn for a while and picked up individual marks of wear and tear. Basically, a clear foot is as useful to a forensics expert as a fingerprint. However you can always throw away your shoes!

On hard surfaces, such as lino or marble, shoe prints will be left behind. On soft surfaces, such as mud, earth, dog shit, etc, shoe impressions will be left behind. From these marks identification can be made, and are watertight evidence if a comparison is made. The only sensible thing to do is to wear old shoes and to throw them a long way away immediately afterwards. Shoes will also carry traces away with them, such as oil, petrol, glass splinters and other such giveaways. Don't wear them in your home.

Tracker dogs will be able to follow the smell from your shoes, but not for more than 10 to 12 hours afterwards, and then only in favorable conditions. Roads that smell of exhaust fumes, petrol and rubber will mask your smell. The best conditions for tracker dogs are unspoilt meadows during moist or cool weather.

Blood Traces

I can think of several instances where blood may be split, and for this reason it makes sense to know as much about it as possible. Blood is very hard to get rid of once it has got on you or your clothing. Even dry cleaning will not remove it thoroughly. Should you be near to someone who has been punched in the nose or stabbed, you will be covered in a fine spray of blood droplets.

A forensic scientist can detect, retrieve and examine the minutest traces of blood, and the amount of information to be gathered depends on the circumstances. In the laboratory a fresh, warm pint of blood can show the type , the sex of the donor, any illnesses peculiar to the donor, any drugs or medication taken recently . In practice, however, the smaller the quantity and the older the sample, the harder the task. Importantly, a blood sample cannot be proved to be positively yours, although it can be proven that it isn't. [Ed. Note- Unless I'm mistaken I believe that if the pigs get hair, a skin flake, blood. I think they can pin it to you based on DNA. See following paragraph.]

A new development in the examinations has just been made in Britain and it is rather worrying. It is called 'genetic fingerprinting' and has been perfected by a private company but has already been used once by the police. The use of this method in blood sample examination is supposed to be able to positively identify a person from a matching blood sample. It seems as if it will be several years before this is in general use, but it is the shape of things to come.

Textile Traces

There is not a lot to say about these traces that is not common sense - just think of your clothes as blotting paper that will soak up incriminating evidence like crazy! Dust, soil, chemicals, blood, petrol, paint, the list is endless. Clothing will also leave behind particles of their fabric, and as with gloves , will leave impressions should you sit or lean on anything soft. Traces of fiber and debris from your own environment will be carried by your clothes and left at the scene. For instance, the fibers from your sofa, carpet, car furnishing, etc, will be carried by your trousers (say), and may be left wherever you go. To circumvent this, wear old clothes, and discard then afterwards, Remember, if you wear them back home, you will also be carrying back traces from wherever you may have been.

Tool Traces

In much the same way that a bullet will retain scratches from the barrel of the gun from which it was fired, then tools such as chisels , pliers, bolt cutters, knives, screwdrivers, etc, will leave identifying marks at the scene of an investigation . These marks can be matched to the tool at a later date using comparison or stereo microscopes. Most obviously, the shear marks on a cut padlock can be linked to the cutters that were used on the job. If the same pair of bolt cutters has been going the rounds, and you might find yourself being held responsible for any number of previously unsolved 'crimes.' If such tools have been used to break into the Ministry of Defense, then it is courting disaster to hold on to them. For less dodgy instances, the working edges of tools can be given a new 'face' by filing or re-sharpening, but only if the tool is in good condition, and not badly pitted or scarred. Tools are not only made from metal; objects such as rope, string, tape, etc, are just as incriminatory, and lend themselves to comparative analysis.

Glove Traces

Although it is always wiser to wear gloves to avoid the risk of leaving any fingerprints behind, we should be aware that gloves can sometimes leave just as much information. Basically, gloves will almost certainly leave traces of the fabric from which they are made on anything they touch, especially broken glass, fencing, masonry, and rough wood. If gloves are not thrown away after use, then positive links can be made in the form of textile analysis. Plastic gloves, rubber gloves will keep your finger prints on the inside and some very thin surgical gloves will still allow your print impressions to show up on hard or shiny surfaces. If your discarded gloves are found, than traces of your sweat will be present (see Body Secretion Traces), as well as comparative traces such as wood splinters, paint flakes, glass splinters, etc from the scene of the crime. Remember also that you are going to look dead suspicious if you are seen wearing gloves in mild weather, or even if you have them in your possession, especially if there is more than one of you, and you are all wearing them.

Body Secretion Traces

The human body produces various fluids and secretions apart from blood. These are namely: spit, sweat, tears, earwax, urine, faeces and snot. Samples of these may or will be left at a scene of investigation. They don't tell the police a hell of a lot, but as with blood traces, they help build an overall picture. For the most part, body secretion traces will show blood type. In some instances the information can be more exact. From your snot and spit they will know if you smoke , or if you have a specific occupation (e.g. miner: black lung, docker: asbestosis, etc). From your urine, sweat and faeces, any illnesses that you have may be apparent. (Hepatitis, anemia, NSU, etc) and any medication or drugs that you may have taken. From your shit they will be able to tell what you've had to eat.

For example, the analysis of urine at a scene of crime might show blood type A, presence of Hepatitis, and the presence of Methadone. They already have a list of registered methadone users, therefore they already have a list of suspects.

Vehicle Traces

Vehicle traces refer to any parts of forensic evidence that may be left by motor transport.

Firstly, the tire tracks; these are usually left in soft ground, and not on hard top roads, although they may be found in soft tar, dog shit, etc, and in the case of a collision, sometimes on the flesh of the victim(s). These traces will identify the make of tire, and in most instances will prove unique to one tire, due to the characteristic wear. The distance between tire tracks will indicate axle width and chassis length, thus indicating the type of car. Some cars carry unique tires, for instance imported, or small production runs.

Transfer traces are those which are left on the scene due to collusion or contact. Most commonly this involves paint flakes. These are always left in the case of any contact. As well as indicating the exact colour of the vehicle, when studied microscopically they will identify the brand of car, and very often the model. This is due to the fact that auto paint can consist of over 14 layers of primer, paint, lacquer, etc, which are unique to different manufacture. Forensic experts carry detailed catalogues of paint samples. From one paint flake it is theoretically possible to know the make, the model, colour, previous colour(s), and the yeah of manufacture of a given car. Due to the extensive registration of vehicles this means that the police have a lot of information to work on.

Other types of transfer traces chiefly consist of trim that may have been dislodged, such as hubcaps, bits of windscreen, light covers, door handles, those stupid rubber earth strips tat hang off the rear bumper, aerials, coon tails, furry dice, etc. all these things lend themselves to comparative analysis.

The direction and speed of a vehicle can be estimated from the direction of the brake tracks, dripping oil, debris, etc.

In conclusion, as vehicles are so closely monitored in this country (M.O.T., license, insurance, tax, etc), the police have a good deal of evidence to work on already, before any crime has been committed, and this gives them the edge when it comes to tracking down cars. In practice, it is not a good idea to use your own car for anything dodgy. It may be spotted by the video cameras on petrol station forecourts, traffic control videos on motorways, or be checked on the PNC by the police without your knowledge. They stop proportionally more red cars than any other colour. Dull, fairly new fleet cars get stopped less, neutrally coloured and respectable looking are safest. A man and a woman get stopped less than single drivers, and flash sports succumb to the 'envy factor' in coppers, especially if driven by someone who is not an Aryan true blue male brit.

Arson and Fire Traces

The assumption that evidence is destroyed by fire is incorrect. The Fire Investigation Unit will turn up if the origins of a fire are suspicious. They possess a large degree of skill and are able to determine the flashpoint of a fire and what caused it, (electrical fault, cigarette, candle, spontaneous combustion, deliberate arson etc). They also can tell the flammable substance which was used to start the fire (gasoline, paraffin, tallow, paper, etc.). Chemicals used to start a fire will almost automatically end up on the person and clothing of the person(s) who started it. Particles of soot will also lodge in the clothing and hair.

Many arsonists have been caught because they wanted to come back and watch.

Ballistic and Firearm Traces

In Britain, which has such a small number of private firearms, the forensic investigation of ballistics is considered of paramount importance. For this reason, extreme care must be taken when getting involved with them.

Firstly, the potential of the projectile (bullet). If it is recovered in good condition, then it will reveal the caliber of the weapon, the type, and often the manufacturer. A bullet will remain in good condition if it enters flesh or any other soft material. If it hits thick metal or concrete, etc, it will be disfigured, but will still retain many of its identifying characteristics. Certain types of bullets are designed to fragment on contact. These are bullets such as Dum Dum, Mercury Tip, Hollow Point or Explosive. Whilst this makes the job of the forensic investigator harder, it doesn't stop it. No matter what sort of bullet has been used, it is always safer to assume that it has left enough characteristic marks to make it identifiable. As we all know from watching Kojak, the barrel of a gun imparts unique markings on the surface of the bullet, which can be matched to specimens when viewed through a stereo microscope. What perhaps we don't know is that the shell casing or cartridge also carries unique markings, from the impact of the hammer or bolt, and from the ejection and breech mechanisms. Automatic hand guns, machine pistols, many rifles and some shotguns automatically eject their shells. A cage or trap fitted around the eject port enables these to be caught.

The police of every country keep a pictorial file of all bullets and weapons used previously (and countries cooperate with each other!), and should you be caught with a weapon of dubious ancestry, you could find yourself having to explain a lot.

When a gun is fired, particles of gas and powder will DEFINITELY lodge themselves in any exposed skin and clothing. These particles can be found by a forensic examiner by the taking of ether swabs. In amerika an aerosol has been developed which can be sprayed on the hands and will show up as a coloured dye immediately should it come into contact with these particles. It is used to quickly eliminate suspects after (say) an assassination attempt. Gloves!

Once a gun has been used it is courting disaster to keep it. It should be thoroughly cleaned and dismantled and distributed into a deep lake, not forgetting that fingerprints can be preserved under water, especially if covered with a layer of gun oil.

In conclusion, firearms are an area in which forensics are advance and extensive, thus giving the police the edge. Definitely not an area to get involved in without knowing what you're doing.

Voice Identification

It is possible from a tape recording of a voice to compare it with another voice, and decide whether they are one and the same. This is because each persons voice is a combination of frequencies which can be analyzed using a sound spectrograph. This is most likely to be called into use for anonymous phone callings, and to this end it should be assumed that all telephone lines are not secure. Most newspapers have facilities for immediately recording calls, and all emergency service calls are automatically taped. Changing your voice, dialect, or pitch won't make a hell of a lot of difference to your 'voice print.' Speaking through a handkerchief has absolutely no effect! If you have to use your voice over the phone, try everything from pinching your nose, stuffing your mouth with tissues and speaking with a Ukrainian accent. Perhaps the bust way to phone in a message is to edit on tape together the words of famous personalities, in the same way as ransom notes are made from cut up newspapers ... just imagine: "This is [George Bush] claiming responsibility on behalf of the ALF..."

Face Identification

We have all seen Identikit pictures, and on the whole they just serve to give the roughest idea of someone's face. Obviously, certain things are of more help than others: scars, moles, broken noses, tattoos, etc. The latest development is from Sweden, where a computer takes a basic Identikit picture and blurs the edge over, finally producing a computer generated image similar to a photograph. The police also use professional artists to make sketches from a witness description. It is hard to change the features on your face, but certain things help. Glasses, changes of hairstyle, hair colour, etc. Women can use a mountain of make-up, heighten cheekbones, etc. Men can grow or shave facial hair. A man with very short and a moustache looks radically different from the same man clean-shaven with long hair.

Responsibility Notes

These are a bit of an ego trip and just give the police more evidence to work on. In fact, it might be the only evidence the police will have, so why give it to them? However, if you do have to send them, there are some things you should be aware of.

Your blood type and other details can be taken from the spit used to moisten the stamp and the envelope flap. (See Body Secretion Traces). Paper does carry fingerprints. When handwriting use stylized block capitals.

Only ever write on one sheet of paper at a time, preferably on a flat, hard surface such as glass or formica, which will not take the impression of what you are writing. Don't use sheets torn from a notebook, as comparisons can be made from the tear and from the type of notebook. Also, something innocuous already written in the notebook can be already transferred to the sheet you're using, providing more comparisons. Preferably use envelopes and writing paper of a very common brand, e.g. bought from [a corporate chain store]. Only write on one sheet at a time. Destroy any remaining sheets or envelopes. Don't keep any stamps from the same block. Don't post anything in your area. Be aware that minute traces of hair and fiber can easily be trapped in the glue of the flap and the stamp, especially if the letter has been in your pocket. This is even more likely if you have been cutting up newspaper words and sticking them down. When doing this, don't keep the glue, the scissors or the papers. When using a pen, use a 'Bic' ballpoint, as this is the most common, or use a felt pen, which is less likely to leave an impression on the sheets below. See also Typewriter Traces.


Every typewriter carries its own unique identifying marks. Firstly these come from the keys themselves, which when enlarged, show individual peculiarities of style and wear. Secondly, the pressure that the keys have made upon the paper. Thirdly, the alignment (or lack of it) of the letters, both horizontally and vertically upon the page. It is further possible to have an idea of the typist, from the pressure emphasis of certain letters. E.g. 'hunt and peck' versus touch typing. This is most obvious on manual typewriters.

To avoid all this trouble, its easiest to use a machine with a separate type element, such as a daisy wheel or golfball. These can be thrown away after use. Never type on to double sheets, as the entire text will appear as an impression on the bottom sheet. Carbon sheets also will retain the text, as will the ribbon, whether carbon or cotton. All things of this nature should be destroyed. (Don't forget erasion ribbons!)

The best way to avoid all this palaver is to but a second-hand typewriter from a flea market. It should only cost a fiver. Use it once and then chuck it, not forgetting that your prints will be on every key!

With modern dot matrix computer print outs you can program your own typefaces. Perhaps this is worth trying out.

Making Impressions Visible Again

It is sometimes believed that it is possible to remove identifying serial numbers by filing or drilling them off. The numbers stamped onto the frames of motor vehicles, guns and other metal objects can be made visible again by various forensics processes. This is because the initial stamping has changed the structure of the metal beneath the surface. The best way to obscure chassis numbers is to utilize this factor, by filing off the serial numbers and then banging the hell out of the area with a hammer and cold chisel, before re-stamping.

Many government and business agencies, as well as private householders mark their property with an ultra-violet pen that is invisible to the naked eye. Ultra-violet bulbs can be bought from specialists electrical shops, and these will help you read any numbers or marks.

Traces in Printing

When printing 'subversive' pamphlets, books, posters, etc, there are various processes which lend themselves to forensic comparison. Firstly, the typeface; this is as for typewriters, by studying the individual letters, their alignment, etc., it can be told from what machine they came from. This is true for manual or cold type typesetters, but is much harder when a computer typesetter has been used, especially when using a very common typeface. Secondly, the artwork and negatives. They should be handled consistently with gloves, and destroyed immediately after use, as should be the printing plates. The paper should be of a very common type or brand and should be bought in small quantities from retail outlets, so as to avoid invoice traces from larger paper suppliers. Thirdly, the printing machine(s): they impart individual marks on the paper from the gripper edge as they go through. These can be removed at the finishing stage with a guillotine. Fourthly, the guillotine; the cutting edge of the blade will uniquely mark the paper, but comparisons can be avoided by thoroughly re-sharpening the blade, unless it is badly worn, in which case it should be thrown away. Filthy, the ink; it should be a very common brand (i.e. Pantone process black) so as to make comparisons useless. Sixthly, the distribution; should be done very quickly, leaving no stockpiles in embarrassing places.

To avoid the labor of these above precautions, we typeset, laid out and printed this book abroad, and it was distributed over one long weekend.

Eye Spy

Video Surveillance: How does it affect you?

We find video cameras these days in almost every public place; the [subway], shopping centers, car parks, banks, football stadia, rich houses, hospitals, as 'traffic control', etc, etc. These are all 'public' video cameras, which have some legitimate use, but must also be regarded as security measures. For the main part, these cameras serve to deter potential 'criminals', and instill a healthy sense of paranoia. 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear'. 'This store is protected by video cameras', 'Big Brother is Watching You'. The purpose of cameras in such places as supermarkets and Tube (subway) stations is mainly preventative, although they occasionally are used evidentially. For example, in 1985 a penniless Nigerian student knifed to death an American banker in a Mayfair street 'because he looked rich'. The murder was viewed and recorded by one of the many video cameras that festoon rich areas and embassies. He was convicted. We must be aware of the areas where video surveillance is used, for however innocuous a purpose, and relate their importance to our actions.

Video and the Police

These days the police are attaching a great deal of importance to video, and they have created special video teams , whose basic purpose is to monitor demos, pickets, riots, marches, raids, etc in order to provide concrete evidence of crimes being committed and to be able to identify individuals and the groups to which they belong. You will no longer be able to go to a demo, march or mass picket without being recorded. In this way they build up a picture of affiliations, and they hope to spot 'trouble makers', 'ringleaders' etc. At a demo or picket it is common practice for the police to pose as news teams and 'interview' those taking part. They can be spotted by the fact that their cameras do not carry the logos of any of the legitimate TV companies. If in doubt, you can always ask to see their press cards!

How to Deal with Video Surveillance

Obviously the most important thing is to be unrecognizable. For the most part this involves keeping your masks and balaclavas handy, but in situations where this may look too suspicious, such as a march or a daylight picket, hats and glasses can be worn. Try to avoid wearing conspicuous clothing, as this makes you stick out.

It is possible to burn out the cone of video cameras by simply pointing the flash gun of a camera directly into the lens, and giving them a burst, thus leaving them unusable. The best place to try this is with the cop cameras at demos, and the cameras of TV crews (for all practical purposes, the two are indistinguishable). Try the same thing on private security cameras, just for the harassment value, but this will not always work, as many have anti glare coatings on their lenses, or are keyed for night-time use, and in both cases will not register high levels of light. Many security cameras will work at night, either with the aid of flood lighting, or with infra-red. You can be seen in pitch darkness. [Ed. Note- Also, look into using laser light devices to damage cameras at demos and elsewhere.]

Video & the Private Sector

Camera surveillance is entering our lives increasingly, and because of their numbers, we often simply fail to notice them. They are used and monitored by two separate groups. Firstly, the police and state security agencies, and secondly by the propertied classes, who are unhappy with the level of service they are getting from their security guards (the police). Video cameras should be vandalized at every possible chance. Spray paint onto the lens, stickers, glass etch fluid, a lump and hammer, etc. Big Brother is watching you.

Police Helicopters and their Video Capacity

The Metropolitan police in London have at present two helicopters stationed at Lippitts Hill, but they will be getting more in the future, and their technology will be improving. As it is, the helicopters carry radio receiving and transmission capabilities on microwave frequencies, video surveillance equipment, night searchlights, loud hailers and on board computer terminals.

The radio equipment allows them to be on constant contact with the ground, and their response time is very fast, they can fly across London in 15 minutes. The pilots are police officers, and not privately hired (flying pigs?). The video camera is mounted to the side of the fuselage in a globe cover. The cameras are remote, and can be pointed in any direction, and are of a quality that can focus, pick out and record a face in a crowd. The picture is monitored on board, but using microwave transmission it can also be monitored on the ground, from vans or a command center at New Scotland Yard. This system is called 'Hele-Tele', and in practice it means than an individual in a crowd can be isolated, followed, identified, and police on the ground can be directed to him/her by radio, even when she/he is only visible from the air. At night time, the camera is complemented by a very powerful directional searchlight, although it can use existing light, or work on infra-red frequencies, but with a distinct loss in quality. This technology has long sense been used by the occupation army in Ulster for spotting night time movements, especially along the border. In places where there is a large amount of residual heat, such as in built up areas, image intensifiers lose much of their effectiveness.

The on board computer that these helicopters carry is a terminal, which means that they have all the information on the PNC to work with. This makes it autonomous. In practice they can spot a car from the air, zoom in on its plates, and find out the name, address of the owner/previous owners, criminal record of the owner, in fact all information available on the PNC.

Police helicopters carry a lot of heat sensitive equipment, and they really don't like things like rockets and distress flares being fired at them, so this is all I can suggest to annoy them, short of building a microwave radio jammer, or firing a SAM missile at them.


Journalists often give the impression that they are sympathetic to certain causes but the best advice is to trust a reporter about as far as you can throw them. More often than not, they'd sell their grandmother for a story. They are usually only interested in the 'scandal' aspect of any story, and anything they write will only be in line with the editorial policy of the paper they work for, and looking at newspapers in Britain, that isn't exactly uplifting. If a journalist works for the Sun or the Mirror, they will usually say they are from the Guardian or Telegraph. Journalists spend their whole lives compromising. They are not allowed to write what they want, as the editor and owner of the paper have final say, and basically they amount to lap dogs. They will be only too happy to finger you to the Special Branch [U.S. version is the FBI] or police, who regularly drop into newspaper offices. All that stuff about 'protecting their sources' is just a load of Hollywood hogwash, they usually come up with what the police want to hear, and they can be taken to court if they don't. Basically they're lying scum, and it's best to treat them as such. Even 'left wing' ones often have a sectarian axe to grind. Keep them at arms length if you do have to deal with them, and never give them your name.

Cop Cars and How to Spot Them

Most cop cars have orange stripes down the sides and revolving blue lights on top, which sort of gives them away, but the sneaky bastards do ride around in unmarked cars from time to time, under the quaint assumption that no one will notice them. Sadly for them, we can now reveal the distinguishing features that make an unmarked police car so unique. Firstly, the type. Our patriotic pigs only ride around in British made cars. These are the type that you'd expect to see in company 'fleets' and mainly consist of Ford Sierras, Vauxhall Cavaliers, Ford Fiestas, etc. The quality of the cars improves in direct proportion to rank, of course, and also to the 'glamour' of the units involved, i.e. the Flying Squad. Almost all 'civilian' cars, if you look, will have a sticker at the bottom of the rear window advertising the supplier. Police cars do not have this. They also do not have sunroofs, furry dice, silly 'my other car's a Porsche' stickers, nodding dogs, racing trim or whiplash aerials. The aerials are usually short, black stubby ones, although this does vary. The cars come mainly in 'neutral' colours; dun brown, chocolate brown, olive green, etc. More vivid colours like red, white and blue do occur, but with less frequency. The best way to familiarize yourself with these cars is just to nip down to the local station and have a look in their car park. After awhile you begin to 'sense' them, and spot them a mile off, without even thinking about it. [Ed. Note - In addition to what was said above about the colours, in the U.S., I've noticed that under-cover cars have antennas in the center of the trunk hood. Also, from the rear you can see the revolving lights on the inside, at the top, just inside the rear window. The cars I've seen have always been new and plain looking 4-doors.]

Other obvious giveaways are the presence of two white thug types in the front, dressed in 'casual' style, and, if there are any more in the back, for some unknown reason one of them will have his arms stretched out along the seat back. Something to do with rank perhaps, I don't know...

The real giveaway, however, is the number plates. A cars registration will tell you where it was registered. The letters that indicate this are the last two in the group of three. In London, police cars are registered in West Central London and are given the codes, UL, UV, UW, and UU. So the registrations PUV 378R, RUW 778W, C891 TUU can all be police plates. For other parts of the country the location codes are given in the back of the AA Members handbook, or in the back of the Investigative Reporters Handbook, by Stuart Chistie. [Ed. Note- In the U.S. I've seen government vehicle license plates carry an 'E' within a hexagon (or was it octagon) at the beginning. I've not confirmed that the undercover vehicles carry the plates with the 'E', but it would be worthwhile to look into this for some type of correlation.]

How to Spot a Plainclothes Cop

Cops in plainclothes are not always easy to spot, but once you've seen a few it becomes easier. Thank heavens they haven't reached the 'Hill Street Blues' state of affairs where the undercover police look nothing like cops. Once again, it's worth going down to the nearest police station and take a look at them from a distance. Cops tend to follow fashion, so they like wearing stuff like Fred Perry, Gallini, La Coste tops etc. Whatever happens to be in this year, and is comfortable, and you can buy at Burtons or Man at C&A. They seem to have a great fondness for stylish leather tops and bomber jackets, although if they are playing undercover there always seems to be one wearing an olive green army surplus jacket. They wear jeans and slacks and always comfortable shoes, with soft (noiseless) soles, very often Nike or Adidas trainers. For pursuit, Regulation haircuts, maybe a touch long, England Cup Squad stylee. Perhaps a medallion, definitely a wristwatch, something flash but sober (i.e. not a Swatch). No earrings, 99.9%of the time they are white. Aged roughly 18 to late thirties, they tend to look like soul boys or casuals. After awhile they become pretty obvious.

Demos, Pickets, Riots, etc.

Since the Public Order act came into effect at the beginning of 1987, all public demonstrations have come under stricter control. You can now get from 10 years to life just for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. At every political meeting or demo there is a special branch officer or his CID equivalent taking notes and making a report, picking out 'ringleaders' etc. Information gathering is all important. Photographers and video crews will attempt to take pictures of everybody, in the hope of convicting them or identifying them later.

After a riot, there will be the usual shower of 'community leaders' and 'community policeman' sifting through all the available photos and news film footage. TV companies and papers willingly supply all photos and footage to the police, and if they don't, they are made to give them up through the courts. During the 1985 Brixton riots anyone found with a camera had it stolen or destroyed. Journalists, when discovered, were beaten up and had their notes destroyed. Video crews were stoned, and kept well back. As a result of this it was impossible to find a decent picture of the riots, and all the TV got was some day after pics of smoldering ruins and some smoke in the distance. This is definitely the best way. Although cameras can be useful for recording arrests, they also help to convict. There is no reason to go to a riot, picket or demo with a camera. Most photographers seem just to be looking for cheap action shots, and assume that a camera round their neck makes them a non-combatant. Perhaps everyone could just leave their cameras at home ... at least then we'd know who were the cops.

Scarves, hats, sunglasses, etc are all useful to hide the face, and the Germans and Dutch protesters seem to make a specialty of wearing motorbike helmets, which serve both as protection and disguise. Good idea.


When the police or the special branch raid, it is very often on a 'fishing trip'. They will painstakingly sift through your letters, address books, mailing lists, phone books, photo albums, etc. and copy and cross reference them. They will try to establish 'friendship networks' who knows who. It is best to have any material of this sort hidden somewhere safe and imaginative, and it is also good to get into the habit of keeping things like home´┐Żgrown, catapults, dodgy IDs etc, stashed. Basically, probably every home in the country has something illegal in it, whether an overdue library book, a fiddled meter or a 2 inch grass plant. It would be silly to get nicked for something this small, as it gives them some leverage against you. If you are raided, try to keep your eyes on the police at all times, and thoroughly search any rooms that they've been left in on their own, for bugs perhaps, but more likely for drugs planted so that they can come back later and nick you. Tell any friends that are in your address/phone book in case they get a visit as well. Stay calm and collected while the police are there, and don't let them intimidate you. Tell them you're sure they're in the wrong house, be up in arms about the invasion of privacy ... after all, every englishman's home is his castle!


Telephones are poison. From the very outset it is wisest to assume that everything said on a telephone is totally public, and that everything on it can be heard. The American Bell Telephone system is the world's most advanced, and it is slowly being introduced to Britain. It involves a Unit Pricing System, which records details of every telephone call; date, time, duration, recipient, town, country, cost, etc. Telephone systems can be made to automatically monitor all conversations and record should key words crop up in conversation. (Such as 'bomb', 'IRA', 'assassination', etc.) This is already used extensively in Ulster.

It is already possible to tap any phone in Britain from one command centre. If your phone is tapped, it is unlikely that you will notice anything out of the ordinary, although it has been known for people to pick up the receiver and hear their previous conversation played back to them! More likely you'll have a clearer line than usual, as this is in the buggers interest. Phones are tapped at the exchange or from a command centre, so you are highly unlikely to find a little transmitter in the set itself. If this happens, it's more likely that you are a victim of industrial espionage.

One of the only ways to check if you are being bugged is to arrange a fake action over the phone, and see how many coppers turn up! Another way to have fun is to ring up a friend, and at a prearranged signal you both start lowering your voices to a whisper. If a bugger is listening in, hopefully they'll turn up their headphones to hear better. Your friend gets off the line and you blow a referees whistle as hard as you can down the phone. This should shatter the buggers eardrums, only it might not make you too popular! This is not usually going to work, as most calls are taped automatically, still, it's worth it for the nuisance value.

The circuit of your phone can be left open, and whilst it will still work perfectly, the mouthpiece turns into a microphone, and can be used to record whatever is said in the room. For this reason it is best to keep your phone in a drawer, or next to a playing radio.

Telephones are also used to establish circles of contact between people, who knows who, etc.

Once again, telephones can never be secure. If possible, stay away from them, but if you do have to use them, take care.

Are You Being Followed?

When the police follow you on foot, they operate in teams of three or over, all in radio contact, and coordinated from a station or car. They can be very hard to spot, because if one of them thinks that you have seen him/her they will drop behind and let another take over. Always when being followed, the way to flush a tail is to do something illogical, such as jump on a bus and then jump off immediately. Who follows you? Go up an up escalator, then come down again. Take a lift up and down. Cross a road twice. Use a subway twice. Take a route on the tube that is more complicated than necessary. Change lines too often. There is no reason for anyone else to do these things unless they are following you. You could have a friend follow you at a distance over a prearranged route, to see if they can see anyone else following. Geddit? To lose a tail, head for very crowded places, such as the underground, shopping centres, high streets, department stores, etc. and try and slip in and out of crowds and exits.

In a car the same things apply. Car tails are often done in a 'box', whereby three or four cars will follow ahead, behind and parallel to you, so that although you may not see them, they will always be where you want to go. Going round a roundabout more than once or taking four consecutive left or right turns is the classic method of telling if you are being tailed. Whether on foot or in a car the ideal situation is to get to somewhere isolated so that anyone tailing you will stick out like a sore thumb. Long, empty roads, or areas of parklands for instance.

Blend In and Get Away

It's a good idea to listen to police radio transmissions and get used to the way they operate. Most importantly, how they look for someone, and how they phrase descriptions. If you're running away and they're after you, your description will be put over the radio to cars and foot patrols. Firstly, you will be an 'IC' number, which denotes your racial category (see 'Radio Speak'). Then your approximate height, age, hair colour and clothes will be given, and anything you may be carrying. Obviously, the police are alert to anyone running or appearing in a hurry or nervous. If possible, RELAX and try and make your way towards other people. You're safest in a crowd. Try to appear as if you are going about legitimate business. A suit, tie or smart clothes/haircut etc. works wonders. After daylight you can pin the collar of a dark suit up around your neck and you will be covered by the night. If anyone comes along, simply let your collar down to reveal a white shirt and tie. It's amazing what a suit will let you get away with. You can, carry a briefcase or a clipboard. You have to appear to belong in the area where you are. A punk in a business center and a suit in the slums are obviously conspicous. Working clothes e.g. donkey jacket, overalls, etc give you an air of legitimacy. A white coat could make you a lab technician/butcher/baker etc. These clothes or overalls can be taken off and discarded to immediately change your appearance. It is important to be able to change your outward look in a short time or to be indistinguishable from the people around you. To help change how about a reversable jacket? A hat pulled out of a pocket. What you've been wearing under your overalls. The intention is to look inconspicous (i.e. drab). Dark trousers or blue jeans are the most common. A dark, neutral top; brown, black, navy, grey. Bright colours make you stand out. A radio description of you will mention these. Not many people wear red trousers or luminous socks, for example. Try and see what makes people stick out in a crowd, and see if you can copy the people who blend in.

When trying to get away from a situation, it is always imperative to know the area beforehand. Where are the nearest tube [subway/train] entrances, shopping centres, places you can get lost in the sea of people. Which roads can you go down. Any dead ends? How will you get away. A motorbike can get through traffic like a knife through butter.

A bicycle can go places where even a police car can't go, over railway bridges, down a tube station, subways, over parks, etc, etc, and they're very quiet! Pick what is best for the situation.

What to do When Arrested

Everyone has their pet theory about this. Some think it's best to make a fuss and demand your rights, etc, etc, whilst others think you should keep your mouth shut the whole time. Obviously a lot depends on the coppers and the charge, but I think the best thing is to be as quiet as possible, and try and just blend into the wallpaper. It's easy to give advice, but it can be very frightening in a station, and everyone reacts differently. If you're middle class, respectably dressed, and daddy's a lawyer, or some such, you can kick up all the fuss you like and you will probably be treated differently by the police. They know who they have to keep on the right side of. However, if you're scruffy, inarticulate, poor, or conform to any of their many predjudices (i.e. black, gay, squatter, punk, lefty, hippy, etc), you will get short shrift. You will be what the police call a 'slag', that is, someone they consider beneath themselves. Most crimes are solved by 'confessions', so the golden rule is never make a statement, and especially never sign a statement. Without a signature it can be disputed in court, with a signature you're fucked. If you do sign a statement, remember to sign and number every page, and right up to where the writing ends, so that nothing can be added or slipped in. If more than one of you has been arrested, then you will be played off against the other "Fred's confessed to everything". To avoid this sort of rubbish, you all have to agree to say absolutely nothing.

Cops are experienced interrogators and they can spot innacuracies and conflicting statements a mile off, so there really is no point in concocting elaborate alibis and excuses, as eventually you are bound to slip up, and once they know that you've lied once, they'll never give up. I personally think the best way to behave is to play the role they expect of you. Be slightly in awe of them, willing, polite, and slightly stupid. I think that kicking up a fuss and demanding your rights will only get you in shit ... no one likes a smartarse. If you do want to know your rights, however, you can contact Liberty, who will provide you with all the information. It is useful to know that sort of stuff. I have had some success by pretending to be slightly mentally below average (pretending!). Just let your mouth hang open and appear to be very dense, one can short of a six-pack. The cops just assume you're thick and don't push you as hard as they might, as they don't expect to get much sense out of you anyway. Also, they don't like soiling their hands on loonies they find it demeaning, perhaps. Who knows? Give it a try sometime.

What can I say. Obviously the best thing is to say absolutely nothing in custody, although if you don't give a name and address you could end up on remand. Ask others who have been arrested and see what works for them. Hopefully you'll never have to worry about it.

Who's Watching Who?

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not watching, and while there's no point walking round with your head over your shoulder the whole time, it is worth knowing who's likely to be watching you, for what reasons and when.

Local Intelligence

On a neighbourhood level information is gathered in many ways, some of them seemingly quite innocent, yet it is intelligence gathering none the less. It is obtained by police on patrol, by undercover squads operating in secret, by talking to shopkeepers and garage proprietors, from the public, via Neighbourhood Watch schemes and by formal meetings with other officials who possess information. Much police intelligence can be gathered from their own records, and even factual criminal records can be turned to intelligence purposes. This is even more the case for crime reports, which contain many details of persons who become involved, either as witnesses or victims in the criminal process.

The neighbourhood community copper does most of the 'spade work', gathering gossip and slander, and making predjudicial judgements of their own. This cartoon just about sums it up.

All local information is relayed back to the station where it is processed by the 'collator', who is the intelligence officer (ha ha), for the station. Many local forces are now equipped with their own computer system, independant of the PNC [Police National Computer-A national storage database.], where all local intelligence is stored. However, the local computer system and the PNC 'talk' to each other, and exchange information. Local intelligence is notoriously predjudiced; here are some examples:

The Right Man for the Job

Robert Jones of 14 Crosby Road. Newtown - known affectionately to his CB mates as "Tiny Tot" - paid another return visit to our fair Division at 3.30 am on 15.7.82 when he was stopped/checked in his nifty yellow Ford Galaxy PYX 838A. Gracefully reclining in the passenger seat was none other than school breaker and suspected druggie James Richard DACK (30.3.62) (wounding, burglary, theft, damage) whose unforgettable features are pictured left. (A mugshot of a black person). DACK a state benefit subscriber augments his hard earned dole by working on the door at Talk of the Town, keeping out other undesirables. JONES and DACK are well acquainted with the finer pouts of our division and are worth every stop/check they can get.

Bit of Bad Luck He's Having

A slightly dazed Norman THAINING was checked wearily dragging his feet along Chingford lane at 1.25 am Sunday 12.9.82 carrying all of his worldly belongings in a plastic carrier bag. Apparently, big sister had cracked him over the head with a bottle of orange squash and given him marching orders from the family mansion at 132 Scarborough Road. THAINING seemed at a loss where he would be living for the next fortnight, but said that he was due to be given the tenancy of I5 Whitby Lane. The next question is how THAINING proposes to furnish his new abode, but no doubt his form for theft and handling should stand him in good stead. (Also a mugshot of the person).


The ever fortunate residents of South Langham Old Peoples Home are currently benefiting from the attentions of James Michael TRENT 16.4.671 (burglary, theft) of 255 Ridley Road, who is taking part in Rickmansworth borstal's community scheme. TRENT's spell of duty at the home terminates on 15.11.83.

Andrew James ROSS, a well known druggy has moved into 75 Stevenson Road together with Michelle SWAN and Child. As we know SWAN is also on the stuff and this new combination should prove interesting. As far as we know ROSS is still at home in 121 Beaconsfield Avenue. It will be interesting to see who visits the new couple.

We should also be aware of the type of people who are likely to provide intelligence to the state security forces at a local level. No matter what the organisation (Local Police/CID/Branch/MIS) information is gathered by bribery, intimidation, the 'recruitment' of civilians as spies/neighbours, the local grocer, doctors, solicitors. councillors, door to door salesman, the milkman, postman, local clergy, religious fringe groups, access to local and central government files-taxation, social welfare, vehicle licensing, local housing department files, those of social and community workers, health visitors, bank accounts, post office and credit card company accounts, observations by gas and electricity meter readers. In short, the recruitment of everyone and anyone who it is believed may be willing to assist the police and secret police. School teachers and headmasters are a particularly attractive proposition in this respect. The types of homework essays set for children can be particularly revealing; 'A Day and Night in the Life of my Family', 'Our Family's Best Friends', 'My Family's Likes and Dislikes'. Essays on holidays and friends, faces and places can all be quite entertaining, or not quite so, depending on your perspective, motives and objectives. Is this an exaggeration! Think about it... would you trust your ex-headteacher? Why do people grass each other up, you may wonder? Usually out of 'public spiritedness', or just because they're impressed by a badge.


The Special Branch

Special Branch is the executive wing of M15, or if you prefer, Britains secret police. Nominally they are accountable to the CID, but operationally they report to MI5 and the Home Office. Their headquarters are at New Scotland Yard. There are SB officers attached be to almost every police force in Britain. Their main job is the legwork of intelligence gathering that is of interest to MI5, that is, that concerns 'internal security'. They have total access to all the information gathered locally by the police and any that they concentrate on themselves. They use the PNC to a far greater degree than the police (3 to 4 times a more often).

The branch have various methods of collecting information and various sources. Surprisingly perhaps, 75% of all information is publicly available or given away free. Here are a few examples:

  1. All the names of political activists who appear in the press, national and local, are noted and indexed. Extra prints of demos, etc, can be aquired from the papers, for background research, and journalists will be asked to supply additional information, such as the addresses of those writing left wing letters to the paper.
  2. All those signing petitions to Parliament, even in the most innocous cases.
  3. Letters coming to the branch from members of the public, giving details about their neighbours, or pictures of demos naming someone they know.
  4. The papers, magazines, pamphlets. etc, of political groups. Where possible they subscribe via a box number, or visit left wing bookshops or information centres in plain clothes.
  5. During raids by both the branch and the police the contents of address books, letters, photo albums, cheque stubs, etc. are all noted down and cross indexed to determine 'friendship networks'.
  6. Telephone tapping and mail surveillance. All mail can be read without you noticing that it has been tampered with.
  7. Trials of members of political groups are watched for those who attend and help the defence. Branch officers are at all entrances to the court, and photos are taken covertly, either from a van or window opposite the court.
  8. Approaches for information are made to employers and state officials of all types, like DHSS personnel, doctors, teachers, postmen, etc. During the 1972 school strike headmasters were approached for lists of absentees.
  9. A report on every meeting and demo of any political significance is prepared by the branch or the CID/police in attendance. The contents of speeches are noted, 'ringleaders' are identified. Photos are taken, as well as video film.
  10. Grasses, touts, informants. There are five main kinds:
    1. The 'innocent' informer, who tells a branch officer what he/she/it considers to be 'common knowledge' (everyone knows) about colleagues and situations in the workplace or organisation. Also in this category are the reactonaries who grass up those whom they consider to be a threat to society, or when they might profit by the downfall of the victim. Both of these types of touts are unpaid and act out of a sense of public spiritedness, or because they've been watching too much Dempsey and Fuckface. (Incidentally, cop shows are shown more often during periods of social unrest, goody/baddy morality lessons).
    2. The 'innocent' politico/revolutionary who also tells what 'everybody knows'. Branch officers and coppers are ill informed (read 'thick'), and giving them any information at all is stupid.
    3. Paid informers. Comparitively rare, but someone sympathetic to the branch who is paid small amounts of money for intelligence.
    4. 'Paid in kind' informers. More common, as these are people over whom the branch have some hold (threat to prosecute, embarrassing information, dirty pics,etc) and are forced to give out details.
    5. Undercover branch officers. There are not very many of these (50 + / - ?) who tend to infiltrate organisations and campaigns which are new or loosely bound, where the participants are less likely to know each other.

The Special Branch keep a close eye on the left in Britain, but their job is not made easier by the abundance of factions and splinters. Recently more groups are ignoring the parliamentary road to socialism and advocating direct action (how shocking!). The disadvantage that this poses the branch is that whilst reformist and parliamentary groups are dead easy to watch and categorise, groups without leaders and no central command structure or organisation are much harder to keep track of. This also applies to those degenerates who squat, live in inner cities, change jobs frequently, don't own a phone, are not on the electoral register, etc.

Knowledge is power, and it is the job of the branch to collect, and by its storage and use, prevent the likelihood of revolution or political change (unless right wing). Information is collected on anyone who is radical, liberal, or likely to become either of those. Into these categories fall Union Officials, black activists, persistant squatters, petitioners, letter writers to the Grauniad, CND members, left wing lawyers, journalists, teachers, social workers, the NCCL, etc, etc. Get the picture? The moral is: if you stick your head up, they'll make a note of it, should they ever have to chop it off. We have to perfect ways of doing what we want without being too conspicous.


MI5 is the domestic intelligence service responsible for intelligence, counter´┐Żespionage and security within the United (sic) Kingdom. Its main task is the monitoring of subversive groups and individuals who might pose a threat to national security. It also monitors the activities of foreign agents (trade reps, overseas students, cultural, scientific and educational exchange visiting lecturers, personnel, businessmen, etc.) and of diplomatic staff on location in britain. In practice, any group, whether open or covert, must of necessity come to the attention of M15, whatever its political, social, spiritual, criminal or subversive aspirations.

MI5, officially known as the Security Service, has 9 branches; Counter-Espionage, Protective Security, Counter-Sabotage, Counter-Subversion, Intelligence and Operations, Scientific and Support Services, Computer Division, Training and Registry, Administration and Finance. The branches are divided into 'Sections' and the sections into Sub-Sections or 'Desks'. Here are some of the sections that you may be interested in:

A Branch
Burglars. (Buggers, thieves, etc).
Locksmiths, carpenters, etc.
Watchers (tail targets, surveillance, etc.)
K Branch

Studies foreign powers.

F Branch
Communist Party and 'communist front' organisations. i.e. World Peace council.
As above.
Trade Unions.
Teachers, students, pacifists, lawyers, journalists, MPs.
'Hard' terrorist targets (such as, IRA/INLA etc. Arms and Explosives movements.
Runs the agents infiltrated into 'subversive' organisations like CND, the Tufty Club, etc.
Trots, Maoists, anarchists, Militants, feminists, fascists, black power activists, revolutionaries in general.


MI6 is responsible for overseas intelligence and trouble making. Most likely to run the James Bond side of British Intelligence (sic). Not much interest to us, unless we want to book an Intourist holiday. The headquarters of M16 are at Century House, 100 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1.

Private Security Agencies

This is a growth area in the last few years, and caters basically for big businesses who feel that they are not getting the service they should from Mr. Plod. These agencies will run private checks on individuals or groups, usually for the purposes of vetting them for job applications, but sometimes this is done in the interests of the 'loony right' who are obsessed with subversives taking over their green and pleasant land, and want to put in their 2p's worth to combat it. These groups are not necessarily NF/BM styles, more of your 'Libertarian Right' types, e.g. the Freedom Association, The Adam Smith Institute, The Economic League, etc. They are potentially more dangerous then the Branch/MIS/Police intelligence mob, as there are no limits to their investigative powers, often stepping over the vague boundaries of legality that constrain state institutions.

All these private security agencies have ex-Police/Branch men on their payrolls, and in some instances, ex-SAS officers. This is because of the information to which these people have access. It is fair to say that ex-branch and police officers have full access to the PNC, and state intelligence material even more sensitive, though not necessarily accurate. This is done through the 'old boys' network. There are independant right wing organisations who keep their own files on subversives. This information can go back to the state's intelligence gathering agencies, and often does, in the form of 'barter': "You show me yours... I'll show you mine."

The Police National Computer

The Police National Computer (PNC) has been operational since 1986. It supplies details of car owners, disqualified drivers and suspect vehicles as well as people with criminal records, those due to appear in court and people wanted for questioning. The police have amassed nearly 43 million entries on the PNC and make over 31 million enquiries per year.

The data in the computer is arranged into 8 indexes: Vehicle Owners Index, Stolen and Suspect Vehicle Index, Stolen Chassis/Engine Number Index, Criminal Names Index, Disqualified Drivers Index, Wanted and Missing Persons Index, Fingerprint Index, and Missing Persons Index. To get into the PNC a terminal is needed. Every police force in britain has them, with the most being in London. Usually coppers have to radio base to access the computer. Police helicopters carry their own terminal, with a microwave link. In Germany and other European countries, the police carry terminals in their cars. This development is likely to reach the U.K. sooner or later.

When a name check is put into a PNC index, it is cross-indexed between all 8 indexes. It will also allow for a difference in pronunciation in your name, mispelling and inaccurate date of birth, and will offer up a range of nearest alternatives. Not everyone is listed on the PNC, so if you were stopped and checked on the street, say, and you had no I.D. on you (always a good idea) then you could get away with giving a false name and d.o.b. If the name you had given was not in the PNC then it would come back 'no trace', which in effect means that you are not gulity of or wanted for anything. If you give a common name however, e.g. Tony Jones, Paula Johnson, they will find a corresponding name, on record, and who knows, there might be a warrant out for you! Always use a fairly unusual name.

The brit police are funny about ID, often accepting a letter adressed to yourself as sufficient, amongst other simple forms, such as library cards, bus passes, etc. Britain is the only country in Europe where it is not illegal not to carry an identity card. Also, it is not an offence to give a false name, as long as the name you give is one 'by which you are known'. This means in practice that it is unusual for anyone to be charged with using an alias. For information about the PNC and fingerprints see Fingerprints.

An Interview With an ALF Activist

How do you go about carrying out actions?

There are a number of aspects that one has to take into consideration. First and foremost it's important to look round the region at all the targets, laboratories, and as many of the factory farms as one can find, hunt kennels, fur shops, abbatoirs, etc. If actions have taken place already in your home area it's a good idea to go for the most straightforward, squirting paintstripper from a lemon juice squeezy, or a washing up liquid squeezy bottle over the van(s) of an animal exploiter, gluing up fur shop locks to start with, then progress to factory farms which generally are not alarmed (there is the odd one that is, particularly those that belong to the large chain stores). If no actions, or only one or two small actions have taken place, it may be beneficial to go for a laboratory, the reasoning being that once things start in your area the labs will start investing in more security measures. There are still labs with only minimal security. The animals are not necessarily in the labs at all times and there is usually an animal house a in separate building where animals are held until needed, or in some cases are bred there. We can usually gain access to the grounds, (we're not put off by the usual security fence with with strands of barbed wire, as these can be climbed with practice - we use the concrete posts as a support and wear 2-3 pairs of gloves when learning. N.B. Razor wire is much more tricky/dangerous - be carefull), we usually find the buildings with animals have fans operating, pumping out the stale air and the fresh in. We can smell which one has them within.

With factory farm units we can tell what kind of animals, if any, are in the units, simply by placing our ears against an air duct on the side of the unit or at the door, listening and smelling. Or we try shining a pencil torch, with coloured plastic[blue and transparent is recommended because it won't effect your night vision as much.] held over the end by an elastic band, through any openings. In fact, we double or triple the layers of plastic so that only the minimum of light gets through, not only reducing the chance of anyone else seeing, but shine a bright light onto battery hens and they may well make a lot of noise. We always try the door handle, etc, and have been pleasantly surprised a couple of times to find it is unlocked. With experience one can often tell what animals are held in a particular unit by its shape, size, and building materials used.

When looking at potential targets, we don't take balaclavas, etc. We also make a point of emptying our pockets of everything, including door keys, discarding matching jewellery etc. before setting out, in case we drop anything. If we need to cover our faces a scarf is fine and we wear gloves of course. We also carry bird watching books and binoculars. Usually a lad and a girl will go by public transport or be dropped off at a prearranged time. We avoid parking a car in an area where a future target is being looked over, unless it's hidden. We try to limit our visits to any target to one or two and we do not leave any trace of our visit. We find we can make a totally silent look round by removing our shoes, though this is usually unnecessary. During the day we explore the approaches to the target with the help of an Ordnance Survey (O.S.) map, looking for a suitable dropping off point/place to stash the vehicle(s), emergency meeting point if necessary, noting any guard dogs at the target or in the gardens of houses along the route in. After dark we walk the route to ensure there are no guard dogs, go in and examine the units, check if there are any animals in them, can we climb in through an air duct, if not, what types of locks will we have to deal with.

If it's a lab, and not straightforward, we need to know the times of security patrols, then we'll do a spot of camping nearby. In our group there are four people and over a period of time we have equipped ourselves with ordinary scarves for covering our heads and faces, gloves, two crowbars (one small, roughly a foot long, the other roughly a yard), a large screwdriver, a well oiled brace and 1" auger bit (it's a wood boring drill, the type used to make the hole in your door for the Yale lock), two mortar drills (one being extra long), two sledgehammers ( a 141b one with full handle and a lOlb one with the handle cut to 20" for working in a confined space), a pair of boltcutters, two 35mm SLR cameras with flashguns (with diffuser and tilt - occasionally we can bounce off the ceiling to get naturall shadow). Duracell batteries are used in the flashguns-recharge is then much quicker.. We use 400 ASA B + W film in one, and 100 ASA colour slides in the other. When we carried out our first raid there were three people with scarves, gloves and a large screwdriver. We rescued 36 hens. Four sacks each, one carried on each shoulder by their draw strings and one in each hand, 3 hens in each sack.

We have since found that cardboard boxes are fine for chicks, etc., if the 'items' involved are rodents we sometimes find the cages in which they are housed are portable and we place the lot in our boxes or rucksacks. For hens and rabbits we use fairly large sacks (approx. 24" wide x 36" long) with rope nylon drawstrings in the middle. The rope is threaded in and out of the sack at 6" to 8" intervals and the length, when knotted together is the same as the circumference of the sack. We seal the double knot of the rope by using a match and literally lighting the two ends. As the nylon melts we blow out the flames and the resulting black blobs keep the strands together.

Another useful item that we make from a sack is a guard sack. Two brush poles are sprayed a dark colour, then placed inside the sack, one either side, and stitched securely into place. Roughly 6 - 8" of the handles protrude. One or two of these act as good barriers when you have to deal with a guard dog. The protruding poles are placed under the armpits and are held as high as possible. If anyone asks what they are they would be told that they are hides for photographing wildlife.

The actual day chosen for the raid is considered well in advance. A full moon and no cloud means a well-lit night which is undesirable, as are hot muggy nights when people find it hard to get to sleep. Overcast nights are good, and any rain is very welcome. With a particularly difficult target, everyone is made aware that we are expecting 'bad' weather and to expect very short notice. It is also important not to work to a pattern (e.g. actions every Friday/Saturday night). Weekend evenings are good because of the amount of people travelling to and from pubs/clubs, but for night raids weekdays are more approriate because of the amount of early morning traffic. Saturday nights are the worst possible, the roads early Sunday are dead. On the day of the raid a planning meeting takes place and a thorough briefing/discussion takes place. Details dealt with include the transport of equipment of activists, time of raid and departure, while studying a plan of the target - who will be responsible for being a lookout, breaking in, taking the animals, holding the sacks/boxes, where to meet up if things go wrong, who will be acting as back up by sitting at a phone, ensuring everyone has a few ten pences and some emergency money - while the raid may go OK, a car could break down. Everyone empties their pockets. We do take a container of water if the raid is likely to take a long time - wearing a mask for lengthy periods results in dry throats and coughing.

Before the tools are transported everything is wiped first with a rag soaked in warm soapy water and then again with a dry rag. This also goes for the cameras (and battery), flashgun (and batteries), everything, even glasses if worn. A further refinement is to cover our clothes with something like a boiler suit or old baggy clothes over our normal clothes and have a spare set of footwear. These items virtually eliminate the risk of us carrying traces home. These items can be discarded when we return to the vehicles(s), placed in a black bin bag it all looks like jumble. Someone has the responsibility of thoroughly washing the scarves, gloves, boiler suits/old clothes and shoes immediately upon returning after a raid. This person is not directly involved in the actions and stores the clothes and equipment. In other words we use a 'safe house'. Generally speaking, the arrangements for events after the action are just as important as the precautions beforehand.

Before setting off we make sure that everyone has a plausible reason for travelling in that direction or homewards, we consult the music press to see if there are any concerts applicable. If a male activist is driving, a female member will sit behind him. The police have a habit of glancing into cars and mixed company is far less likely to be stopped.

Choosing the time for the raid can be crucial. If possible we carry out the raid mid-evening so that we are home before 10:30-11:30 pm. Once the pubs close, and particularly after midnight there is always the chance of a spot check by the police looking for burglars. If travelling by car (we avoid hired vans, hired cars are OK, the police take less notice of new cars) we try to arrange for the tools, and hoods if used, to be well hidden in the target area mid-evening by just two people, a girl and a lad using public transport if possible. We take only the minimum amount of equipment.

The raid may need to be at night. Battery hens often make quite a din, though we are not put off by this. Unless we carry out the action while the house is unoccupied or is some distance away we raid the unit at 3-4am while everyone is fast asleep. We never travel between 12 midnight and 6-7am there or back. We arrive in the evening and hide out in the woods (we avoid the local pubs for the obvious reasons) and time the raid so that we arrive back at the transport after the raid shortly before dawn. Generally speaking, by planning well ahead we tend to concentrate on late evening raids during the summer and nighttime raids during the long nights of autumn and winter. the transport will often be a minimum of one mile away from the target and probably two or three miles away hidden in a field or woods (we carry a good quality compass in case we have to leave in a hurry, though it's generally not required). Vehicles are never parked in country lanes as the police will generally treat them as stolen vehicles that have been dumped, or certainly suspicious. Anyone sitting in such a vehicle will certainly be questioned. We push the car(s) down a track into the woods or similar. Pushing does away with driving with lights on and resultant noise and thus alerting any locals out walking the dog. We have parked in a nearby housing estate, leaving the vehicle(s) locked and empty, the drivers returning in couples to pick up the vehicles, and later the raiders. If the target is in an awkward area the raiders can be picked up by vehicles returning at a prearranged time or called in by portable C.B.s (again Duracell baterries are used).


If there are a number of cars hidden in a field/wood for an evening raid, depending on circumstances, it may be prudent for drivers to remain hidden nearby and watch that no dog walkers/courting couples stumble across them. If this were to happen and the dog walker/couple take a lot of notice , the vehicles(s) are moved to the emergency meeting place. When the raid is over one person travels ahead and checks that the transport is OK.

The first thing we do during an actual raid is for the look out(s) to get into position. Binoculars are a very useful addition that can be used at night. They may take a little getting used to, focussing and time for ones eyes to adjust but it's well worth persevering. We find the usual long, thin straps on binoculars are unsuitable. They not only leave them dangling, and thus banging on fences being climbed, etc, but they are also uncomfortable to wear after a time. We substitute wide camera straps, suitably shortened. If portable CBs are being used they are tested beforehand to make sure they are in working order and tuned in. Because of the noisy static when both units are switched on, the raiders will have their CBs switched on all the time while the look-out(s) will have theirs switched off. This gives total silence; if the look-out needs to reach the raiders, a flick of the switch and it's on and ready to use. However, we do not rely on the CBs alone as sometimes we may be working in a spot that gives poor reception. The look-outs should be positioned so that they can also warn the raiders directly and quickly. Usually bleeps are used rather than voices on the CBs, two bleeps to keep still and quiet, four for 'all clear' and continous bleeping if it's time to run for it, though we've not had to use this last sequence so far.

We have once or twice locked a gate using a plastic covered bike lock. This method is both quick and silent and ensures security vehicles cannot pursue us. Usually we do not cut the telephone wires but occasionally this is necessary. Either they are cut near the house or office, if this is not possible a piece of brick is tied to a nylon rope and is thrown over the wire between two poles and two people will pull the wire down. It's usually a struggle and requires two people to use all their weight to yank it down. Wires are not cut at the big commercial labs as they are likely to have alarms connected via the phone lines to the nearest police station.

When entering the target area we usually have to deal with a fence of some sort two people go forward and deal with it. The ordinary 3 strand barbed wire farm fences have the bottom 2 strands cut only. The top one prevents cows or horses following us or straying in the road. On the other hand, anyone pursuing us will be in for a shock. If it's a chain link fence we cut a strand at the very top, following that strand down through the others to about thigh height from the ground and cut it again. Then, holding the strand where it is cut at the bottom we force it to twist and 'corkscrew' it out. We can then part the fence and climb throught the gap. We . leave the bottom part uncut if there are guard dogs, if disturbed it would be harder for them to get out after us, particularly if the top half is also blocked by one of the guard sacks with the poles jammed in the netting. The same two people then check out the unit and immediate area.

When actually breaking into (say) a factory farm unit, usually what is required is a large screwdriver and a couple of crowbars to deal with a Yale lock on the front door (straightforward) or to deal with the inside bolt(s) on the back door. In the case of the back door, if it's a tight fitting one we first pull it from the bottom, we can then judge where the inside bolt or first bolt is. We force the first screwdriver roughly 12" from the bolt and force the opening until the small crowbar can be inserted. Further force is exerted until the large crowbar can be put in by a second person, who puts their full weight behind it and rocks it to and fro, forcefully yet gently, the idea is to make the screws which hold the lock/bolt eventually pop out, not to take the door off its hinges.

For padlocks we may need to use boltcutters, we ignore the lock and go for the hasp which is often mild steel. With the cutters in place, a wet towel is wrapped round the cutters and hasp. This helps to deaden the sharp crack noise. If we are unsure about a door being alarmed the two people who dealt with the fence will also break in and then rejoin the rest of the group for 30-40 minutes to watch for any reaction, from a couple of fields away.

If the animals being liberated are battery hens all the group enters very quietly, then closes the door. A torch covered with coloured plastic is switched on. The cages are opened. A variety of different types of cages are used, common sense tells us if they unclip, slide up or across. A last resort is simply to tear them apart with our hands. We are not put off by the noise the hens will be making by now. Due to the barbaric conditions it's not unusual for fighting to break out so factory farmers are used to outbreaks of noise. Having closed the door most of the noise is absorbed by the usual wooden building.

Working in twos, one person clasps a hen (remenbering their wings are quite strong) so that the head is facing away from us, while the other holds the sack which is rolled down to the drawstring beforehand which helps to keep the neck open. The hen goes in head first, we don't let go until the bird is sitting comfortably at the bottom of the sack, two more follow. To try and simply drop them into the sack just does not work, they will get their feet caught up in the sacking and flap their wings about. If this happens, it's taken out and the procedure repeated properly. We are very careful not to injure the hen. The three hens safely in, the draw string in the middle of the sack is drawn closed and the resulting loop goes over the shoulder. We take as many hens etc. as we have good homes for.

With experience it's possible to work in total darkness which usually reduces the amount of noise the hens make. When working in a broiler unit with full grown birds we move more slowly, otherwise 10-15,000 hens may start off. We don't panic if they do though, it may sound loud in the unit but outside it's surprising how much the wooden units deaden the noise.

With rabbits we select single mothers with well-developed young. Large rabbits on their own often indicates a pregnant female, and for obvious reasons rabbits with small young are not disturbed. Rabbits go into the sack back end first because. of their large rear feet. Sacks are ideal carriers because the material is comfortable and keeps the animals warm, and with plenty of fresh air. Following the raid we ensure the door is closed so that the cold night air doesn't result in a sharp drop in temperature and discomfort for the animals left behind. For buildings that are alarmed we try to gain direct access into the room holding the animals by going through a wall. Using a well oiled brace and mortar drill long enough to drill out the mortar from around one or two bricks, we then lever them out with a large screwdriver or small crowbar. We then simply cut bricks along the mortar with a padsaw and literally cut bricks out. Squirting water from a squeezy bottle onto the padsaw reduces the noise of cutting the mortar (3-4 squeezy bottles are usually required).

To go through a door that may be alarmed we use our brace to drill a series of overlapping holes using a 1" auger bit until a square can be removed big enough for us to get in and out of with our boxes etc. We have also been able to remove a window from an animal house by taking out the putty using one of those screwdriver sets that has a pointed implement. On another occasion we gained access to an animal house during the day when the alarms were switched off. During the lunch break we gained access using a skeleton key. We had already established on a previous visit at night that it worked, by unlocking the door, but not opening it, then relocking it.

Old type alarms can be dealt with by removing the bell with a screwdriver or forcing it to one side with a crowbar so that that the hammer can be cut off or bent so that it cannot possibly strike the bell. Another method with the klaxanhorn type is to spray cavity wall insulation fluid (the type that sets in 15 minutes) into the horn and through the vents into the alarm box. Once enough time has elapsed for the animals to be got away it's time to deal with the labs and offices. As these premises may also have alarms we crawl along the floor. The aim is to quickly smash up enough equipment to put it out of action or plant incendiary materials to burn it down once satisfied there are no people or animals in there and, if possible, to obtain any documents relating to the experiments, who supplied the animals, names and home adresses of the vivisectors/animal technicians etc.

With the big commercial labs there is always the chance of a silent alarm connected to the local police station. By going through a wall into a room with animals we usually find this is no problem, but later when entering the actual labs, to destroy it or rescue animals undergoing experiments we prefer to go for a smash and grab effort. Sledgehammers then come into their own. A 14lb hammer is aimed at the mortice lock repeatedly. We save vital time by going through the outside wall first or smashing in through a window and then dealing wih the internal doors with the sledgehammer. In a confined space a 101b hammer with the handle cut down to about 20" is the answer. Crowbars are also of use. In planning this type of action we have to be totally practical. Those fit enough to run some distance after the raid carrying dogs, etc and rucksacks full of documents will be responsible for taking the animals, papers, for destroying equipment and if possible, the lab itself. For the most part, raiding labs is straightforward, only a handful of the very big labs have more elaborate security equipment.

We never paint the letters ALF on a unit or lab, at most we will spray 'Animal Liberation' or 'Animal Belsen'. We paint slogans in dark colours and where they are visible to any reporters following up the story-this helps confirm the action has taken place when the owner or manager denies it. Where the noise of a spray can may alert a guard dog a large felt tip pen is sufficient.

If everything goes well we do of course mention it was an ALF group to the media so that everyone concerned is aware who was responsible.

If we have to carry potentially noisy animals, e.g. dogs, a long distance over fields, etc, particularly after a smash and grab, we carry some anti-mate (as used by hunt-cabs to put hounds off the scent of foxes). We give a good squirt after crossing a stream, road, etc, for obvious reasons.

When returning to the vehicles on no account do we walk along roads at night. If something went wrong we would at most walk in the fields parallel with roads to help direct us to the meeting up place.

Much of what I've said may appear to be processes that would take some getting used to but we found after a while that they became second nature. We've never been discovered carrying out a raid and the four of us had no previous experience. It is simply down to common sense.


Yes, the police do have a very sophisticated forensic science capability. But they have less than 200 forensic scientists in the UK and therefore priority is given over to more 'serious' crimes. Forensic scientists have turned out in the past to be bent, or there methods predjudiced, inexact and ultimately false. Forensic evidence should always be questioned.

The most significant thing to remember is the most obvious; the police have to have a body before they can make comparisons. For this reason, information and intelligence gathering is the most important area of police work. Preferably they would like everybody on file, with their description, fingerprints and political tendencies. Then, when a crime is committed, especially in the political arena, the cops just haul in the likeliest suspects. For this reason our biggest precaution is not to get noticed, and if we are known, to do our dark deeds far away from where we live. If we can't be found, we can't be caught, and all their fancy technology is useless.

Only a minute percentage of crimes are solved by the use of forensics. For example, the Metropolitan Police's clear up rate is around 17% - less than l in 5 crimes are solved, and of those crimes solved, the vast majority are solved by either confessions or 'information received'. (i.e. grasses). The clear up rate is highest where the individual is likely to know the offender, for example 63% for sexual assault, whereas burglary is only 10%. So you see, the odds are in our favour, and if we manage to keep our mouths shut and stay away from grasses, then those odds can be lengthened. Commonsense and caution make up most of the difference, and who knows, maybe something you've read in this book! What you have to worry about now is bad luck and getting caught in the act.

Well, happy hunting and good luck, all the best,



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