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Friday, 12 December 2008

FIT officer admits in court to the existence of a protester database.

A Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) officer this week admitted publicly that he entered data from FIT operations onto a centrally operated database. This is the first time the Met has publicly acknowledged the existence a database containing details of people involved in political protest.
The admission is significant because this database would hold a great deal of sensitive information about an individual’s political activity. The accumulation of information by the police on a person’s political affiliations or beliefs is a very sensitive area, and potentially a breach of the Human Rights Act.

FIT records could include not only which demonstrations an individual had attended, but also whether they had attended planning meetings or taken an active part in organisation. They would also include any association with recognised political organisations or groups.

PC Dan Collins (pictured above) was giving evidence in court during a trial of three activists charged with obstructing a police cameraman. He spoke openly about entering data gathered during FIT operations onto a computer system, a database that could be searched to provide information on individuals.

“Is there a mechanism to check which demonstrations [the defendant] has attended?” asked the defence.

“Not just [the defendant]. Thousands of people” he replied.

“And the system could check on just one individual?”

“Not me personally. But the police could, yes.”

The revelation will hardly come as a surprise to political activists that have been on the receiving end of the FIT’s data gathering activities. But it is another chink in the armour of the Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The three people on trial for obstructing a police cameraman were found guilty. Two were given conditional discharges and a third was fined. All three have been ordered to pay costs of £150. They are considering their appeal.

11 comments:

Fatwatcher said...

I'm surprised they could pull him away from his pies long enough to give evidence

Attrition said...

Hang on - Did I read that correctly? All convicted? I thought that that didn't happen to Fitwatchers.

Anonymous said...

How is this new? What does National Public Order Intelligence Unit mean?

really fit said...

That the police compile a database of people going on political demos isnt new, they have been doing that for years and we all know it. That they have, at last, admitted that this database exists is new. It was vehemently denied in the case of R v Woods, the current leading caselaw on the legality of FIT operations.

bentham said...

You mean Wood v CPM. It was the Met's brief who said "Of course such a database would be unlawful".

And that was before the decisions in Murray, Mosley and Marper.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, officer.

Yada Yada Tada said...

Under the same "Counter Extremism" heading the Guidelines says that the Special Branch:

"gather intelligence on political and animal rights extremist activity, anti-globalisation and environmental extremism and seek to prevent criminal acts on persons and property targeted by such extremists"


http://www.statewatch.org/news/2004/apr/06uk-special-branch.htm

Andy said...

Dunno if you've seen this?

http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=831582#top

Anonymous said...

Check this discussion:
http://forum.no2id.net/viewtopic.php?t=25599

Anonymous said...

think we'll get a response to this? http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/processes_and_procedures_followe

Anonymous said...

Oh I think you'll get a response - I just wouldn't expect any answers.

David Murray said...

I had wondered just what was the purpose of S76? Now, it is very clear. The Government has acted to prevent obstruction of those who are watching us. Only a Stalinist regime would oppose those who obstruct the watchers. Yet many cases that have come to court have stated that photography in a public place is entirely lawful. We cannot have a situation where the law allows them to film and photograph us and not allow us to do this to them. Wide publicity is the answer, people must be made aware of the law and their rights.