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Councillor branded an “extremist” for organising meetings supporting equal marriage and animal rights

Image3It has been revealed that a Councillor may have been branded an “extremist” by the Metropolitan Police after he received information to indicate that he may feature on the National Domestic Extremist Database (NDED).

Ian Driver, a Green Party Councillor in Thanet, submitted a subject access request to the Metropolitan Police, the lead force for the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU), which revealed 22 database entries covering 2011 to 2013. Most of the entries were related to his role as an organiser of a campaign protecting against the export of live farm animals and one record related to him organising a meeting in support of Equal Marriage in 2012.

The NDED surrounds itself in mystery, refusing to divulge simple details like the number of people on the database and the criteria for being added to it. Our own Freedom of Information requests have been rejected on the basis that this would “render law enforcement measures less effective and potentially compromise possible on-going or future operations to prevent or detect crime” and the ACPO website provides little transparency around the unit. What has become clear from Cllr Driver, is that it only takes the suspicion that you may come into contact with “extremists” to warrant being added to the database.

The refusal to divulge simple information regarding the way the database operates and who authorises the addition of information clearly highlights an overwhelming lack of transparency and accountability. Nobody should face being put under surveillance for organising peaceful protest. Perhaps the police should consider using their scarce resources to monitor and prosecute individuals that actually pose a threat, rather than on councillor’s doing their job.

Deputy Director, Emma Carr, spoke to BBC South East about the story

Posted on by Emma Carr Posted in Home

3 Responses to Councillor branded an “extremist” for organising meetings supporting equal marriage and animal rights

  1. Anonymous

    Yet more evidence of the police’s wrong doings and the databases being made less useful all the time thanks to corrupt and/or stupid officers!

  2. Alastair McGowan

    It is hard to fully express how important these kinds of revelations are. It represents the tip of an iceberg of filtering and profiling that wrongly classifies behaviour as suspicious whenever there is some statistical relevance. A moot point.

    But in effect what this does, whenever the subject is someone who challenges orthodoxies and authorities is to constantly flag them up due to the association between those who challenge and those who eventually become extreme. ‘Coming to the attention’ of police in this way is no different than for example having black skin. It is policing by association, suspicion by association, and in political terms people like Mr Driver and other not so officially political are likely to find their private data swept up for further analysis. Many will be prosecuted for unrelated offenses that thus come to light, and like policing of the black community a self-fulfilling prophecy will occur.

    In Mr driver’s case non-green political people will not face this skewed probing of their lives in the same way white collar white criminals don’t come to the attention of police but black underprivileged people do face this scrutiny and misdemeanours come to light starting a cycle of opposition.

    Every statistical attractor of police attention will create this self-fulfilling prophecy. However, my concern is that political movements that have associated criminal elements means that democracy itself will be skewed away from those who challenge authority the most, and yet these are the movements that democracy desperately needs. That outcome I find horrifying and Orwellian.

  3. Stephen

    I think it is generally accepted that the police are heavily penetrated by members of fascist extremist groups, such as the BNP. The misuse of these databases against members of the public engaged in lawful activities that the BNP disapproves of (e.g. campaigning for gay marriage)is not surprising.

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