Gag orders checked

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- Chief constables in the UK will be forced to justify the legality of recording thousands of law-abiding protesters on secret nationwide databases, the governments privacy watchdog announced. Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, said he had genuine concerns about the ever increasing amount of personal data held by the police.

The move came after The Guardian revealed how the police covertly monitor people they consider domestic extremists, a term which has no legal basis in the UK. Personal details of thousands of activists are in the databases. Surveillance officers are given spotter cards containing photographs to identify individuals who instigate offences or disorder at demonstrations. Home secretary Alan Johnson defended the police: They know how to tackle demonstrations.

But David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson, said, an alphabet soup of agencies has decided to put everyone who protests about anything on a list of suspects. This is an example of mission creep. They have gone beyond dealing with violent animal extremists.

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