Hurray, the police state marches on as the Grauniad reports what sites like Fitwatch have been saying for ages-
Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.
Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an “intelligence system”. The Metropolitan police, which has pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.
• Activists “seen on a regular basis” as well as those deemed on the “periphery” of demonstrations are included on the police databases, regardless of whether they have been convicted or arrested.
• Names, political associations and photographs of protesters from across the political spectrum – from campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow to anti-war activists – are catalogued.
• Police forces are exchanging information about pro testers stored on their intelligence systems, enabling officers from different forces to search which political events an individual has attended.
The National Union of Journalists has been assured that members of the press were not being targeted after it took concerns to the Home Office and senior police officers. The union documented at least eight protests since last March where its members were “routinely” photographed and filmed by police. Several journalists said police officers they had never met knew their names. “We have put this to police and the Home Office several times but they have always denied the practice or sought to avoid answering the question,” said Jeremy Dear, the union’s general secretary. “With this evidence there is no credibility in doing so any longer.”
Police have not disclosed the number of activists on the database. But court testimony by surveillance officers has confirmed the existence of a large intelligence system which, according to one officer, contains “thousands” of campaigners.
Overt surveillance by police forward intelligence teams (Fits) or evidence gatherers (EGs) is designed to record potential criminal activity and gather useful intelligence. Pioneered by the Met’s public order branch in the late 1990s, the technique is used regularly across the country. Surveillance officers use “spotter cards” to identify activists. Police have always denied surveillance is conducted for the purposes of storing information on a database.