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Police close site offering advice to student rioters

FitWatch site 'used to undertake criminal activities'

A website that offered advice to students who were photographed taking part in the riots at Millbank Tower last week has been closed down by the Metropolitan Police.

Hosting company JustHost.com was ordered to suspend the FitWatch site after the Met's e-Crime division claimed it was "being used to undertake criminal activities".

According to The Guardian, the letter sent by the division to the hosting firm said: "We hereby request [you] de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months.

"The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders."

In a post on the FitWatch site, students were advised to get rid of clothes worn during the riots, spray cans and "dodgy texts/photos on your phone".

"Perhaps now is a good time for a makeover. Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn't a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent," the website said.

"The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to 'come forward'. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are."

Last week's initially peaceful march about tuition fees turned ugly when a small minority of students began attacking Millbank Tower, the Conservative HQ. Windows and furniture were destroyed, while some protesters stormed the building and others scaled the roof, hurling objects at the police below.

The advice from FitWatch, which was first set up in 2007 and designed to raise concerns over the tactics police use to monitor political activists, has since been published on over 70 other sites.

Emily Apple, one of the site's supporters, told The Guardian: "It seems convenient that they have taken it down now.

"Nothing in that post [giving guidance to student protesters] has not been said before on our blog or on other sites."

See also: 19 Brits arrested in connection with Zeus fraud


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