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UK anti-protester database

Dan Anchorman | 26.10.2009 04:54 | Repression

British police are building up a database of "domestic extremists" who turn up to protests.

British police are building up a database of "domestic extremists" who turn up to protests.

The database, which includes details of activists -- including photographs and vehicle details -- features people seen at public demonstrations, for example anti-war rallies and environmental protests.

The policing of demonstrations became a major issue in Britain following the G20 protests in April.

One man died when he collapsed after being hit by an officer and police also faced criticism for employing the controversial technique of "kettling" -- the compulsory containment of large crowds.

Senior officers said the term "domestic extremism" could include activists suspected of committing minor public order offences, such as civil disobedience.

Three national police units responsible for combating domestic extremism are run by the "terrorism and allied matters" committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), the daily said.

The committee gets nine million pounds (14.6 million dollars, 9.7 million euros) in public funding and employs around 100 people.

The main section is the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which holds the central database for information supplied from forces around the country. It routinely deploys surveillance squads at rallies.

NPOIU works with the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and the National Domestic Extremism Team.

The units have four categories of domestic extremism: animal rights campaigns; far-right groups; "extreme leftwing" protest groups, including anti-war campaigners; and "environmental extremism".

A spokesman for the units said people on the database "should not be worried".

"There are lots of reasons why people might be on the database," he said.

"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.

"It's an intelligence database not an evidence database.

"Protesting is not a criminal offence but there is occasionally a line that is crossed when people commit offences."

Dan Anchorman
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