The database with your name in it: Police, protesters, and the press

A new report by The Guardian discloses what campaigners and peaceful protesters have known for decades: that the UK police are keeping details of thousands of peaceful protesters, whether or not they have been involved in illegal activity. It also shows the deliberate targeting of journalists and photographers by police surveillance teams.

The Guardian report is accompanied by police video footage taken at the Climate Camp demonstration in Kent last year. It shows the arrogant and high-handed approach of a police surveillance team, as the officers make rude comments about protesters, record facial details of innocent civilians, and take special pains to record the actions of journalists and photographers.

Police FIT Forward Intelligence Team Officer at Protest

Police ‘Forward Intelligence Team’ officer at a peaceful demonstration, February 2008

Image © Josh Jones.

In particular, the video shows the hostile attitude of police officers towards the press. A cameraman recording a peaceful protester is described as ‘being awkward’ for not moving away, and is promptly videoed by the team. A revealing conversation also takes place when an ITV crew walk past the police:

PC 1 – “Some more press officers coming out of the camp now.

PC 2- A lot of press officers aren’t there? They just think they can bloody wander in and out of the field.

PC 1- It’s wrong, I think.

PC 2 – I agree.

PC 1 – I trust them less than the protesters.”

The human rights group Liberty is challenging the police surveillance tactics in court.

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