FOR SALE: Top UK riot cops. EXPORT: To war zones and dictators
Meet Ineqe Group, the Belfast security consultancy with a bizarre mix of courses on sale; child protection, internet safety, cyber bullying and … riot control. Ineqe, a play on the words ‘innovative’ and ‘unique’, is directed by several retired police chiefs turned entrepreneurs, who are now profiting from the specialist skills that they gleaned during decades of state-funded work.
Duncan McCausland OBE, 53, and Gary White MBE, 49, took up directorships at Ineqe after retiring from senior positions in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – with McCausland pocketing half a million pounds in severance pay just before the Patten redundancy scheme closed in 2011.
The pair rank among some of the UK’s top riot cops. White, who joined the police as a cadet aged 16, commanded “many of the most challenging and serious incidents of disorder in Northern Ireland”, a reference to the 2004-5 marching season where the PSNI fired hundreds of plastic bullets in Belfast – tactics that are still considered taboo on the mainland, but which White has staunchly defended. White’s superior, McCausland, virtually wrote the book on riot control. He spent five years on the police chiefs’ Public Order Committee and chaired the UK’s response to the austerity protests.
White says his “background” provides “a certain set of skills” and a “network”. Ineqe advertise five different training courses on “public order management”. Its “advanced” course promises to “equip police officers to respond to rioting”, with drills on Petrol Bombs, Water Cannons and Impact Rounds. So who are Ineqe’s customers? It is reported that “as much as 80% of Ineqe’s business comes from outside the province”. Speaking at a business conference in February 2013, White said Ineqe was “involved in a range of projects at the moment in places like Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Nigeria – there is a lot going on in developing countries”. White and McCausland also claim to work as security consultants for, between them, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development, the NGO Saferworld – even G4S.
Bobbies on the beat … or off the beaten track?
Training police abroad is nothing new for the pair. Prior to joining Ineqe, they travelled to Bangladesh, Bolivia, Georgia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, according to their CVs – accessible online for any prospective customers to browse. But what on earth were they doing in all these exotic locations? That is less well advertised. In Bolivia, White ran public order courses for the Police and Military, while posing for the camera with some bicycle cops. But it is their work in Sri Lanka that warrants closer scrutiny, as the Belfast Telegraph partially revealed this morning.
In February 2009, Sri Lanka was an island at war. After nearly three decades of conflict, the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels were being cornered by government forces, in what has become known as the ‘killing fields’. 300,000 ethnic Tamil civilians fled the fighting, only to be rounded up and ‘screened’ for militant sympathies in squalid barbed-wire internment camps. By August 2009, Amnesty International warned that this system of indefinite and arbitrary detention included some 50,000 children.
It may come as a surprise, then, that this was precisely the six-month period when White and McCausland were seconded from the PSNI and deployed to Sri Lanka by the FCO. The pair were ordered “to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the Sri Lankan Police” and provide “hands-on assistance”, Corporate Watch has discovered through a Freedom of Information request to the PSNI. The itinerary for their first visit included “high level meetings with [the] Inspector General of Police” (IGP), Sri Lanka’s top cop Jayantha Wickramaratne, who incidentally had himself trained in Scotland and Northern Ireland during 2007. As IGP, Wickramaratne was part of the ‘Task Force’ responsible for the administration of the internment camps.
Our previous investigation found that 3,500 Sri Lankan Police were trained by the Scottish Police College before and after 2009. Crucially, this new evidence reveals that senior UK police officers continued to advise their Sri Lankan counterparts even during the bloodiest months of the conflict. The FCO are refusing to disclose its documents relating to this liaison, citing national security exemptions. Ineqe, White and McCausland were unavailable for comment. However, does Ineqe’s CEO, Jim Gamble, know what advice these men gave in Sri Lanka? Gamble’s judgement matters – he is Independent Chair of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board.
Following in Thatcher’s footsteps
Although the global outsourcing of UK policing is alarming, it is nothing new. For example, British police have secretly advised the Sri Lankans since Thatcher, with visits to the Royal Ulster Constabulary HQ during the Troubles and early guidance from an ex-MI5 director on counter-insurgency strategy.
An FCO file from 1983, obtained by Corporate Watch, titled ‘UK Assistance to Sri Lankan Police’, shows that two senior police officers from Sri Lanka visited Trouble-stricken Belfast in June 1983 to observe RUC operations. Senior Deputy Inspector-General H W H Weerasinghe and assistant Superintendent K S Padiwita were “to visit Belfast to see at first hand the roles of the police and army in counter-terrorist operations”. This visit took place a month before the ‘Black July’ pogrom of Tamils, which is widely regarded as a turning point in escalating the conflict and catalysed the creation of a para-military ‘Special Task Force’ within the Sri Lankan police.
Notably, the Sri Lankan police had requested UK help with “para-military [training] for counter-insurgency operations” and “commando operations training” in 1983. The FCO replied “we should like to help the Sri Lankan Government (discreetly) as much as we can with these courses”.
Parts of the file, marked “Secret – UK EYES”, reveal that an ex-MI5 Director Jack Morton had also visited Sri Lanka in 1979 and produced a report for Sri Lanka with “practical recommendations for the total reorganisation of the intelligence apparatus” which was “at heart of any discussion on Special Branch”. Morton had been Director of Intelligence in Malaya during Britain’s brutal war against Maoist rebels, and helped re-organised the RUC Special Branch in 1973 to set up an MI5/Army database on terrorists, according to the Powerbase encyclopedia.
Response from Ineqe Group
After publishing our article, Corporate Watch received a reply from Ineqe’s Chief Operation’s Officer, Bill Woodside:
“I refer to your recent enquiry regarding PSNI assistance in Sri Lanka.
I can confirm that the Ineqe Group had no involvement in this project, indeed it predated the creation of the company.
Two members of the Ineqe Group who were at the time serving police officers, were deployed via the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to assist the Sri Lankan Police in 2009.
The project was entirely focused on helping to develop a ‘community policing policy’. Two visits were undertaken, both based exclusively in Colombo.
No actual training was provided.
There was no ‘Public Order or Riot Control’ aspect to this project.
I trust that this information is of assistance, I would advise that any further query would need to be addressed to the UK FCO.”
This begs the question, how does Woodside really know what advice his current business partners gave in Sri Lanka – if the FCO are keeping that information classified?
Perhaps Ineqe are trusted with such secrets though – after all, its CEO Jim Gamble was head of the RUC Special Branch…