A week ago, the Metropolitan Police responded to a Freedom of Information request asking for the total number of individuals currently classified as potential ‘domestic extremists’ and having their own records on the database of the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU). The information they supplied was intriguing: they said:
There are currently 2627 individuals on the database that have their own record. However I would like to explain that there is no legal definition of Domestic Extremists and so these individuals may not be classified as potential domestic extremists. However a new definition was recently agreed and publicised by the Commissioner at a MOPAC challenge panel.
The new working definition of Domestic Extremism is therefore;
“Domestic Extremism relates to the activity of groups or individuals who commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint”
To begin with, this explanation suggests that the unit responsible for surveillance of so-called ‘domestic extremists’ may hold individual records on people it doesn’t actually classify as ‘domestic extremists’. What possible reason could they have for doing so?
Secondly, the number of records differs sharply from figures published in the Guardian less than a year ago: the report said a total of 8931 individuals “have their own record”. The paper’s reporter Rob Evans has confirmed this too came from a Freedom of Information request. So what happened to the 6304 ‘missing’ records in the last ten months? Continue reading