acpowatch | 06.08.2010 16:31 | Repression
'Domestic extremist' is a vague term with no definition in law, coined by the cops for people they want to keep tabs on. It has nothing to do with housework, but everything to do with people like you (and me), who are probably already labelled as such if you are involved in activism, campaigning, regularly attend protests etc.
The connections between local police forces, the police national computer database and NPOIU's domestic extremist database aren't entirely clear, but it is likely that once you've been identified as a 'domestic extremist', your details might well end up on the Police National Computer if they weren't there already, helpfully passed on by NPOIU. It also seems that information collected by local forces is fed into NPOIU's database, with no accountability whatsoever.
Anton Setchell, the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism at ACPO said in 2009 that "If it is just a street type of protest, or sitting in a field or something, I will probably never ever speak to those forces about it whatsoever. I deal with the more serious stuff, that requires slightly more sophisticated analysis and co-ordination and investigation, which doesn't mean people sitting in roads or chaining themselves to a fence." This was either an outright lie, or Setchell's "more serious stuff" includes mere attendance at demos. See, for instance, the experiences of John and Linda Catt, as reported in the Guardian earlier this year:
and this article from 2009:
CAN YOU SUE ACPO?
None of this will be of any surprise to people who are regularly being harassed by the cops, but you may be interested in a campaign which hopes to bring a group legal action to seek a judicial review of ACPO's practices which are believed to be unlawful, amounting to a breach of human rights and personal privacy. If you are interested in being part of this challenge, and hopefully getting your details removed from the database, then the first step is to obtain the personal data held on you by ACPO by making a Subject Access Request under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Forms can be requested from ACPO by phoning 0207 084 8950 or writing to ACPO, Seventh Floor, 10 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NN. You'll need to send a cheque for a tenner with your application, made payable to the Association of Chief Police Officers. Alternatively, if you don't like forms, you can just write to ACPO, enclosing a cheque and copies of documents proving your identity and address, ask for your letter to be considered as a Subject Access Request under s7 of the DPA and ask for copies of all your personal data along with photographic images (stills and video footage) held by ACPO. Obviously, you may not wish to supply ACPO with more information in this respect than they are already likely to have in their possession.
Once they've received a valid request and the tenner, ACPO have 40 days to respond. It might be worth sending your request by recorded delivery, or phoning early on to check that it's been received and is being dealt with, although they are very cagey on the phone, and might try to fob you off. Make it absolutely clear that it's the domestic extremist database you're interested in when you call.
Once you have received your own personal record of domestic extremism, or rather the part of it that ACPO considers you're entitled to, please get in touch with us via the email address below. The more the merrier!
Background information about 'domestic extremism', ACPO and NPOIU can be found here: