After finding out the police have been keeping tabs on me, it’s time for them to stop spending precious resources monitoring non violent campaigners
I recently discovered that I appear to be on the domestic extremism database, and the data the police have been collecting covers the period when I am working to be elected as head of the Mayor’s office for Police and Crime – ie the person with the legal responsibility to hold the Met Police to account.
Earlier this year I asked the Met Police to disclose any information held on me by their domestic extremism unit, or on Crimint, which is operated by the local borough police. The set of records they released earlier this month included a note of me signing an open letter about the Pope’s state visit in 2010, alongside other patrons of the British Humanist Association including Stephen Fry and Terry Pratchett.
The most recent entry appears to be a reference to me speaking at Green Party conference last autumn, which could imply that the conference was being monitored, possibly by an undercover officer. It also includes details of a council election I fought in Camden back in 2006.
My findings follow the discovery that Green Peer and London Assembly Member, Baroness Jenny Jones was on the domestic extremism database for ten years, including the period when she was on the Metropolitan Police Authority, which scrutinised the police and set their budget each year. Pictured above, Jenny and I are subversively visiting the FareShare food waste and hunger reduction charity in Deptford on Thursday as the story broke.
After the data collection on her was revealed, Jenny won assurances that the criteria had been changed to focus the monitoring on those suspected of being involved in serious crime or terrorism, with the result that thousands of names were dropped from the database. However, she has subsequently reappeared on the database despite never been convicted of any crime. Green MP Caroline Lucas has also discovered she had a record.
In the Guardian I said:
“It appears that the Met has learned nothing from the scandal of undercover policing and the monitoring of campaigners like the Lawrence family.”
I have written to the Met Commissioner about my concerns, asking why the data was collected, why ten year old data has not been removed, and whether they were sending people covertly to Green Party Conference. And as Mayor I will ask Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to review all the Met Police work on domestic extremism, Prevent and counter terrorism to ensure that it is narrowly focused on dealing with the real challenges of violent terrorist activity and hate crime.
The police should be focused on catching serious criminals and terrorists, not wasting time and our money snooping on Green politicians and campaigners who they think might want to change the status quo.