Saturday March 7, 2009
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.
Disclosures through the Freedom of Information Act, court testimony, an interview with a senior Met officer and police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian have established that private information about activists gathered through surveillance is being stored without the knowledge of the people monitored.
Police surveillance teams are also targeting journalists who cover demonstrations, and are believed to have monitored members of the press during at least eight protests over the last year.
The Guardian has found:
• 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 protesters stored on their intelligence systems, enabling officers from different forces to search which political events an individual has attended.
This article was posted: Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 6:30 am