If you are in any doubt as to the extent of the state’s control freakery and paranoia, then you need not be any longer.
A newly processed request under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the police national database (PND) has over 300 million intelligence records that relate to around 15 million people. This means that the police hold records on 1 in 4 people in the UK. Many of the records relate to individuals who have never been convicted, charged with a crime, or any direct dealings with the police whatsoever.
The database contain over 40,000 images, information on people who have attended demonstrations, un-convicted “persons of interest”, associates of criminals, and those deemed to be extreme left or right wing.
All new intelligence does not go directly onto the police national database. It first has to pass through a separate database run by the Met, called ‘Crimint Plus’, which is said to be the largest law enforcement intelligence system in the world. ‘Crimint Plus’ was started in 1994 and has grown steadily in size since. Yet in the last five years alone, its contents have more than doubled.
The records are allegedly only kept on the database for six years, and apart from a small number of ‘highly sensitive’ hidden records, each item is accessible to all 40,000 employees of the Met, and around 12,000 others from forces around the country.
The police national database (PND) originated out of recommendations on record keeping and data sharing from an inquiry into police handling of the Soham murders. Yet just like anti-terrorism legislation, the police will use it however and whenever they see fit, and rarely for the purpose for which it was created.
The Metropolitan Police Authority website describes much of the data held on the database as, “capturing information while carrying out one activity which is likely to prove useful in a future policing activity."
It will come as no surprise to people to find that tools such as ‘Crimint’ and the police national database are being used against activists. All footage gathered by FIT teams, information resulting from trawls of social networking pages, and tit-bits from informants and the like, will feed into these databases.
The occurrence of activists being snatched from their beds at dawn on the day of a protest, as was the case on the day of the Royal wedding, will become the rule rather than the exception.
The disproportionate growth of police databases and the use of ‘big brother’ powers against activists, show that the government intend on attaining total control over people’s lives, movement, and communications, in order to stifle any opposition – militant or otherwise.
Originally published in Freedom Newspaper. Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the photographer, Marc Vallée/marcvallee.co.uk) (c) Marc Vallée, 2008. All rights reserved. http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/protest/