Some time ago, Big Brother Watch was contacted by a person who had just been visited by the police. Not because he was suspected of a crime or involved in one. The Police wanted to know what he was planning when the Olympic Torch Relay came to town. We’re told an 80 year old man was also visited.
This wasn’t based on any evidence something was being planned, nor had the individual been involved in anti-Olympic protests at other points on the torch relay. So we decided to find out how many others had been visited.
It turned out Devon and Cornwall visited 18 people, which seemed a surprisingly high number of people. So we decided to ask every other force in the country if they’d done the same.
On Monday this week we receieved six responses. Since then we’ve had a further ten. All the responses, with one exception, are identical. We can only assume someone, somewhere has supplied the forces with the template response to our request, but the detail is quite remarkable for it’s tone and severity.
The forces claim that “Disclosure of the information requested would cause operational harm to [insert force name] and affect the force’s ability to fulfil the core function of law enforcement in the future”
Apparently it’s a secret that the police talk to people.
It goes on: “The release of information identifying the focus of policing activity in safeguarding public order and the prevention of terrorism could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations.”
So anyone planning to protest during the Olympic torch relay is a terrorist now?
“To disclose intelligence, tactics and methods used to ensure the safety and security of the Olympic Torch Relay may make them ineffectual for future similar events and future Olympic Torch Relays which may pass through the United Kingdom.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking we’re making this up, but alas no.
The fact that police forces are devoting resources to pre-crime investigations about they Olympic torch relay demonstrates how utterly out of proportion the Olympic security operation has become. Rather than investigating crimes that have actually happened, the police are wasting their time questioning people about a potential protest, something that is neither a crime nor a security risk.