On 5 February last year, Netpol launched the first annual “Domestic Extremist Awareness Day”, asking for campaigners to find out if secret records are held about them by making subject access requests to the Metropolitan Police’s National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit.
The police say that ‘domestic extremists’ are groups or individuals who “commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint”. There is no legal basis for this definition: it is one that has emerged under pressure from campaigners. However, over the last year, journalists and photographers (who coincidentally have made complaints against the police) have discovered they have been labelled as ‘domestic extremists’, as have politicians like London Assembly Member Jenny Jones.
As long as the way activists, journalists and others are classified is shrouded in secrecy – and we suspect no formal policy even exists and ‘domestic extremist’ means whatever the police want it to mean – then retaining data on individuals is open to abuse. The police have deliberately obstructed efforts to find out more and expect individuals to trust that secretive surveillance units can operate without scrutiny – which is pretty much a textbook feature of a police state.
On 5th February 2015, we are asking you to tell us, on Facebook and Twitter – using the hashtag #domesticextremist – what might make you a so-called ‘domestic extremist’.
Here are some of our favourite examples from last year of mocking police’s attempts to label every protester as a ‘domestic extremist’.
Plus, if you think the police may hold your personal data, we urge you to take some time on Domestic Extremist Awareness Day to make a subject access request – find out how here.
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