>FIT officer admits in court to the existence of a protester database.

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> A Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) officer this week admitted publicly that he entered data from FIT operations onto a centrally operated database. This is the first time the Met has publicly acknowledged the existence a database containing details of people involved in political protest.

The admission is significant because this database would hold a great deal of sensitive information about an individual’s political activity. The accumulation of information by the police on a person’s political affiliations or beliefs is a very sensitive area, and potentially a breach of the Human Rights Act.

FIT records could include not only which demonstrations an individual had attended, but also whether they had attended planning meetings or taken an active part in organisation. They would also include any association with recognised political organisations or groups.

PC Dan Collins (pictured above) was giving evidence in court during a trial of three activists charged with obstructing a police cameraman. He spoke openly about entering data gathered during FIT operations onto a computer system, a database that could be searched to provide information on individuals.

“Is there a mechanism to check which demonstrations [the defendant] has attended?” asked the defence.

“Not just [the defendant]. Thousands of people” he replied.

“And the system could check on just one individual?”

“Not me personally. But the police could, yes.”

The revelation will hardly come as a surprise to political activists that have been on the receiving end of the FIT’s data gathering activities. But it is another chink in the armour of the Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The three people on trial for obstructing a police cameraman were found guilty. Two were given conditional discharges and a third was fined. All three have been ordered to pay costs of £150. They are considering their appeal.

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