First they came for the crusties but I did nothing, for I was not a crusty,
Then they came for the hippies and I did nothing for I was not a hippy….
All three units divide their work into four categories of domestic extremism: animal rights campaigns; far-right groups such as the English Defence League; \”extreme leftwing\” protest groups, including anti-war campaigners; and \”environmental extremism\” such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid campaigns.
Anton Setchell, who is in overall command of Acpo\’s domestic extremism remit, said people who find themselves on the databases \”should not worry at all\”. But he refused to disclose how many names were on the NPOIU\’s national database, claiming it was \”not easy\” to count. He estimated they had files on thousands of people. As well as photographs, he said FIT surveillance officers noted down what he claimed was harmless information about people\’s attendance at demonstrations and this information was fed into the national database.
He said he could understand that peaceful activists objected to being monitored at open meetings when they had done nothing wrong. \”What I would say where the police are doing that there would need to be the proper justifications,\” he said.
Yes, civil liberties are indivisible: those that are denied to others under one rubric or another are those which will eventually be denied to us all.
However, what do we actually do about this? We most certainly do want \”intelligence led\” policing of certain \”animal rights\” groups, those who conspire to blow up buildings and even people in the pursuit of their goals. Just as we\’d be rather happy with similar close monitoring of those who might strap a home made bomb on their backs and set them off in the Tube.
So who should be monitored and how?
I for one would vastly rather time and attention be focussed on those who are, and in the obvious acknowledgement of the fact that no one can quite know who \”are\”, on those who might, rather than upon us all through the national database and ID cards.
This is the horrible thing: there really are people out there who would happily kill in pursuit of their (however lunatic) goals. How far, in what we would rather like to remain a free society, can those who might be among that number be monitored?