Beware of the “domestic extremist”

According to a recent report in The Guardian the term “domestic extremism” is now very much in vogue with police forces the length and breadth  of this great land of ours. To control demonstrations, forces have decided that at least some demonstrators are “domestic extremists”. As part of their fight against these  “extremists”, the forces are keeping the personal details and photographs of a substantial number of people on secret police databases.

It appears that as there is no official or legal definition of the term, the police have a guess at what they think it means. Some senior officers describe domestic extremists as individuals or groups

“that carry out criminal acts of direct action in furtherance of a campaign. These people and activities usually seek to prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy, but attempt to do so outside of the normal democratic process.”

The police, although they will not, for security reasons no doubt, allow anybody access to their lists, claim that the majority of demonstrators are not considered extremists.

In today’s edition of The Guardian comment from Richard Hering, who with many others named in the paper’s report, whose activities were obviously considered to be “outside of the normal democratic process”

 Good to see my picture on the front page of the Guardian. Thanks for your excellent report on this. I think I was on the card because I was arrested at the previous year’s DSEi arms trade. It was what we call an accountable action: I made the argument in court that I was preventing a greater crime, in that they were selling illegal weapons at the site. I don’t know where they got the picture of me from but they were taking a lot of pictures at the protest.

“I think the spotter card is an issue for civil liberties because, clearly, you have people who have committed no crime who are on lists of ‘troublemakers’. One of the problems with policing is that is its highly political nature, in that there is a lot of collision with the targets of peaceful protest. We now have police advising companies like nPower on how to take out injunctions to stop protesters. Should they really be doing that?

“The problem with this kind of policing is that it makes it look like a battle between protesters and the police, rather than protesters and their target – in this case the DSEi arms fair.”

This is a page form one so-called “spotter cards” that are issued by police to identify individuals they consider to be “domestic extremists” because they have appeared at a number of demonstrations.

spoter-card-002

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