The police are building a £9 million network of databases to track protesters, it has emerged.
Details of people who attend political rallies and protests are being stored, even if the individuals have not committed a crime, in a move likely to incense civil liberties groups.
The technology in use remains unknown, and the Association of Chief Police Officers, which will run the databases, could not immediately comment.
Under the systems, ACPO will monitor individuals termed as “domestic extremists”, which includes those suspected of peaceful action and civil disobedience, the Guardian reported.
The National Public Order Intelligence Unit, part of ACPO, will link its central database of protesters to the network. A second database of vehicle registration plates, logged by roadside cameras and marked as attending protests, will also link in, alongside data and photographs from specialist surveillance teams.
Police at protests are issued with ‘spotter cards’ showing photographs of people judged as presenting a risk to safety, the newspaper reported. The data is taken from the database network.
In an example of the data being held, one man with no criminal convictions has been stopped 25 times in less than three years after his car numberplate was logged at a small protest against game shooting, the newspaper reported.
But Anton Setchell, who runs the ACPO ‘domestic extremism’ work, said if people find themselves on the databases they “should not worry at all”. He insisted there would need to be “proper justifications” for adding people to the network.