protesters' details collected for police databases
are collecting information on thousands of protesters for a series of national
intelligence databases, it was revealed today. Details of activists, including
photographs, are being gathered by forces and sent to a central "domestic
extremism" unit for storage and analysis.
feature people seen at public demonstrations, including anti-war and environmental
rallies. Campaigners can be included on the network of systems even if they
have not committed a crime, it was also disclosed. One face on police "spotter
cards" is comedian and political activist Mark Thomas. Three national
police units responsible for combating domestic extremism are run by the
Association of Chief Police Officers' "terrorism and allied matters"
£9million in public funding from police forces and the Home Office
and employs a staff of 100. The domestic extremism section was set up in
2004 to combat animal rights activists who committed crimes. The main branch,
the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, runs the central database using
intelligence from forces across England and Wales, which routinely deploy
surveillance teams at protests and public meetings. The unit works with
two other police branches, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination
Unit and the National Domestic Extremism Team.
for the units said people "should not be worried". He added: "There
are lots of reasons why people might be on the database.
"Not everyone on there is a criminal and not everyone on there is a
domestic extremist but we have got to build up a picture of what is happening.
"Those people may be able to help us in the future."