Councillor branded an “extremist” for organising meetings supporting equal marriage and animal rights

Image3It has been revealed that a Councillor may have been branded an “extremist” by the Metropolitan Police after he received information to indicate that he may feature on the National Domestic Extremist Database (NDED).

Ian Driver, a Green Party Councillor in Thanet, submitted a subject access request to the Metropolitan Police, the lead force for the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU), which revealed 22 database entries covering 2011 to 2013. Most of the entries were related to his role as an organiser of a campaign protecting against the export of live farm animals and one record related to him organising a meeting in support of Equal Marriage in 2012.

The NDED surrounds itself in mystery, refusing to divulge simple details like the number of people on the database and the criteria for being added to it. Our own Freedom of Information requests have been rejected on the basis that this would “render law enforcement measures less effective and potentially compromise possible on-going or future operations to prevent or detect crime” and the ACPO website provides little transparency around the unit. What has become clear from Cllr Driver, is that it only takes the suspicion that you may come into contact with “extremists” to warrant being added to the database.

The refusal to divulge simple information regarding the way the database operates and who authorises the addition of information clearly highlights an overwhelming lack of transparency and accountability. Nobody should face being put under surveillance for organising peaceful protest. Perhaps the police should consider using their scarce resources to monitor and prosecute individuals that actually pose a threat, rather than on councillor’s doing their job.

Deputy Director, Emma Carr, spoke to BBC South East about the story