Join the discussion online using the hashtags #DomesticExtremist and #ShutNDEDIU
Today is Domestic Extremist Awareness Day, an annual event launched by Netpol in 2014 to publicise how the label of ‘domestic extremist’ is increasingly applied by police to anyone involved in political dissent.
This year, we are calling for the closure of the National Domestic Extremism & Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), the discredited police unit responsible for surveillance on protesters. We are also asking you to share why you think the NDEDIU should shut down.
This post is by Netpol member Kevin Blowe of Newham Monitoring Project
After reports in June last year that Newham Monitoring Project, the east London community group I’ve been part of for over 20 years, was spied on during the 1990s by undercover Metropolitan police officers, I’ve wanted to find out if information about me is held on secret police databases. The Guardian reported estimates of up to 9000 people classified by police as potential ‘domestic extremists’ and so to find out if I’m one of them, I submitted a ‘subject access request’ under data protection legislation.
The Met were supposed to comply within 40 days but it has taken over six months and the intervention of the Information Commissioner’s Office to finally receive a response. If the details provided are complete, they confirm that the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU), part of the Met’s SO15 Counter Terrorism Command, began logging my activities in April 2011 because I spoke at Netpol’s ‘Stand Up To Surveillance’ conference – ironically, an event debating the rise of unaccountable police intelligence gathering on protests and local communities.
Netpol has been asked to publish the following statement on behalf of former friends of an activist known as Jason Bishop, who they now believe to have been an undercover police officer.
Netpol have published this statement as we feel it adds important information to the debate about undercover police officers.
This is the latest in a long line of disclosures relating to the infiltration of protest groups by specialist units of the Metropolitan police including the Special Demonstration Squad and later, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.
After a detailed investigation by former friends and activists, there is now no doubt that the activist known to many people as Jason Bishop was an undercover cop working for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). Jason lived in Kilburn, with a flatmate we haven’t been able to trace who was involved in animal rights activism. He drove a landrover, and allegedly made his money from pirated dvds and software. Read more
Recent revelations about undercover policing have shown that a number of legal and political campaigns and organisations, including the Newham Monitoring Group, a partner organisation in Netpol, have been subject to covert surveillance operations.
While the police are keen to dismiss criticism as being merely an historic issue, applying to a bygone era, Netpol sees no reason to believe that things have improved in recent years. The covert policing of dissent still lacks any effective internal accountability mechanism or means of independent/public scrutiny. Read more
Reposted with thanks from Bristling Badger
As the undercover policing scandal rolls on – with the tenacious Guardian journalists about to publish their book and have the accompanying documentary screened by Channel 4 on Monday – the government has announced tighter rules for future operations.
“All long-term undercover policing operations will be independently authorised”
Well that sounds reassuring. But which outside body will be scrutinising the police’s desires?
“the Office for Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) will be notified at the start of all undercover police deployments – and must approve any lasting beyond 12 months.”
The High Court ruled last week on how the judiciary will deal with allegations of sexual abuse brought against undercover police officers who had infiltrated activist groups. The judgement was a disturbing one, as much for the attitudes it displayed as for the final decision that was reached. In his written judgement Judge Tugendhat compared undercover cops to James Bond, and suggested that ‘everyone in public life’ would assume that undercover roles would include sexual activity. His attitude bore a worrying resemblance to that of Bernard Hogan Howe, who angered campaigners by stated that police having sex while in an undercover role was ‘almost inevitable’. Read more
The Surveillance Commissioner has attacked police for circumventing the law on covert surveillance by building personal profiles of targets from ‘open’ internet sources. In a report published last month, the Surveillance Commission said that the increasingly used practice of processing internet data to build a profile of individuals or groups meets the definition of covert surveillance and should not be taking place without formal authorisations.
The report findings could have implications for a number of policing bodies, including the National Domestic Extremism Unit which trawls internet material from blogs and social networking sites to build profiles of activists and protest groups. Read more