>FITwatch exposes extent of police protester database.

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>Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) have been a familiar sight at demonstrations for years, and many activists have had first hand experience of their particular brand of harassment and intimidation. But although it is well known that they keep data on ‘known’ activists, including photos for their ‘spotter cards’, the full details of how extensive their database is, and how that data is used is only just beginning to surface.

FITwatch obtained evidence last December that the Metropolitan police places the personal data of political protesters onto their criminal intelligence database (Crimint), through the production of ‘intelligence reports’ by Forward Intelligence Teams In a subsequent Guardian investigation senior Met officers admitted the database included the names of regular attendees at political protest, regardless of whether or not they had done anything unlawful.

FITwatch has now obtained evidence of a further, image database of protesters, operated by the Public Order Intelligence Unit (CO11) based at New Scotland Yard. They had initially denied that they ran their own protester database, but taking the stand at a recent trial of FITwatch activists, Superintendent Hartshorn, a senior officer at CO11, admitted that they did just that. CO11 held, he said, a database containing the name and photographic image of people they had noted attending political protest.

Entries on that database are identified with a ‘unique reference number’ or URN. This makes each entry capable of being searched and cross referenced across all police forces and agencies. In effect, this means that CO11 can create a police file capable of drawing together all police information relating to an individual – police checks on their car, ‘intelligence reports’ written at demonstrations, stop and search records – even if that person has never been arrested, let alone convicted.

Superintendent Hartshorn identified how individuals were singled out for inclusion in the database. The police needed, he said, ‘two strands of intelligence’. One strand may be a ‘more than passing contact’ during a protest or demonstration with an individual who is already on that database. The other may be a subjective assessment of a FIT officer on the way someone was ‘behaving’. Previously the police have admitted that membership of an organisation such as ‘Stop the War’ was sufficient to justify an ‘interest’.

The Gaza demonstration at which the FITwatch activists were arrested was a classic example of how easy it is to get an entry on the CO11 database. This particular demonstration was quite calm, but there had been disorder at previous demonstrations, primarily as a result of police attempting to force protesters into a police pen.

FITwatch activists had been arrested after FIT camera teams who were filming and photographing people on the demonstration were obstructed. One of the Forward Intelligence Teams had spent over a quarter of an hour targeting a small group of Asian lads, repeatedly taking their photographs, and tailing them through the demonstration. In court, FIT officers complained that even after a quarter of an hour they had not obtained photographs sufficient for intelligence purposes, but admitted they had no reason to suspect this group had committed any criminal offence, or that they intended to do so. They were targeted only because they were ‘young and male, and moved through the demonstration as a group’. ‘Young and male’ protesters, they said, had been involved in previous disorder.

Seemingly the police feel that fitting such a broad profile justifies intrusive and intimidating surveillance, and the production of a police file.

The police appear to be able to collect and collate personal data on people without any restriction or accountability. There is no body that regulates this or provides oversight. They write their own rules.

FITwatch has for the last two years set out to disrupt and obstruct police data gathering on political protests, and we make no apologies for doing that. Not only has FITwatch brought FIT to public attention in a way that no other campaign has done, the use of direct action by FITwatch has been an effective obstacle to police gathering of data at political meetings, rallies and demonstrations.

FITwatch will continue to resist and challenge FIT operations, but we do need help. If you are interested in getting involved or in supporting us in any way, please get in touch – e-mail us at defycops@yahoo.co.uk.

31 thoughts on “>FITwatch exposes extent of police protester database.

  1. >Publish the judges address. You lot don't actually DO much, apart from whinge about illegal photography. Would U.A.F be more full on?

  2. >NPOIU address

    Room 1915
    New Scotland Yard
    SW1 0BG


    The NPOIU is covered by the Data Protection Act, so you can write to the Data Protection Officer using a Subject Information Request asking for a copy of all the information they hold on you. They are legally obliged to comply.

    It is the NPOIU which passes 'information' gathered on 'troublemakers' to other agencies, including foreign governments. It is this 'information' which has recently led to UK citizens being harassed and questioned under Terrorism legislation whilst trying to leave the UK for Copenhagen.


    If you have further complaints about the NPOIU or any other 'security service' harassment(interception of communications etc.) , you can write to the

    Investigatory Powers Tribunal
    PO Box 33220
    SW1H 9ZQ
    Tel: 0207 035 3711


    though it should be noted that the IPT have never found in favour of a complainant, as they are part of the Secret State, put there to make MPs etc feel secure in their cosey view of 'democracy'.

    Use the above systems even if you have no faith in their ability to right the wrongs committed by the State. If 100s or 1000s do it, it can build further pressure on the Stasi, and expose them to public scrutiny.

    Keep up the pressure.

  3. >I got nowhere with F.O.I and suchlike. My address? I am in exile, about 1 mile south of the Republic/Northern Ireland border.

  4. >Didn't see fitwatch at Ratcliffe – There were loads of Fit though – they must have got 100's of hours of footage!
    It would seem the enviros haven't learnt to mask up when committing criminal acts – I imagine that will change in the next couple of weeks as the arrest begin.

  5. >Really think the cops should have better things to do than waste time posting things in my name.

    Just for the record, I didn't write the above post – and as most people know I would never use "Ms Apple" as a name on a post.

    There weren't 100s of FIT at Ratcliffe – there were a few EG teams with the only known face being Paul Mather. There were several instances were the EG teams were blocked but most of the time the hid behind the fences.

    There was a real problem with security – and the fact Climate Camp didn't encourage people to mask up needs to be seriously questioned.

    However, there are many things I want to write about what happened at Ratcliffe – and I am not going to do so on the dictates of a police agenda!!

    Emily Apple

  6. >Yeah – publish the Judges address – why don't ya? – ask indymedia how it went when they tried similar petulant tactics.

  7. >'The FOI has exemptions for Law Enforcement purposes – it also has exemptions for 'vexations' enquiries.'

    Deliberate misreading or troll? Above I refered to using the Data Protection Act (DPA) NOT Freedom of Information (FOI). I have used the Data Protection Act myself and found out a lot of information held by various police forces and agencies.

    The DPA gives subject access rights to information held about the individual by many agencies, including police forces and the NPOIU.

    To make a request you have to give proof of who you are, an NHS card is sufficient, and £10. (They must give very good reasons for not disclosing information and there is an appeal procedure by an the Information Commissioner and a Tribunal.) You are then entitled to challenge any information which is inaccurate or considered unnecessary for them to hold, or which may cause the subject 'damage or distress' see DPA 10. 1a.


    FOI gives rights of access to undisclosed information regarding money, statistics etc. The DPA gives rights of access to information held about you as an individual.

  8. >Real Ms Apple, I was puzzled by faux Ms Apple as the I.P address seemed to lead nowhere. Strange how Insp Truscott can spend so much time fighting cyber "crime" yet very little helping Mrs Pilkington? Seizure in a war one must expect casualties. In the forthcoming one P.C Plod must expect fatalities.

  9. >John Steed,

    in a war one must expect casualties. In the forthcoming one P.C Plod must expect fatalities.

    The point when people start setting out to injure / kill police officers is the point where I condemn you all.

    I admire what Fitwatch are doing – and I agree with it 100% – but there is a world of difference in protecting free protest and actually lining up for a violent confrontation.

    Oh – and in any confrontation, the police will win. Their gangs of mates and lack of scruples would win the day.


  10. >Anon 00.28. You are fucked as soon as you comment on a site like this. My real name is not John Steed. Nice photo though, huh? "Martin". I am unsure if you are a typically brain dead plod on here to jolly N*g*e* lovers like me along (recall that conversation we had in Brixton '85 Constable, my how you laughed) or if you actually believe that bilge. We will win. We are winning. "He'll be back, he'll be back and he'll be millions" (Spartacus). Meet one of the millions.

  11. >You see, here's my problem with people like you "John" – you just don't get it. We're not dealing with "Typically brain dead plod".

    The police (at least at senior levels) aren't idiots. We might not agree with their thinking, we might well question their motives and actions, but given that they are in fact reasonably intelligent people, who do you suppose loses out when we imagine ourselves as somehow superior to them.

    The real problem we face in this country is not the police, who are at the end of the day merely a tool. The problem, at least for me, is the state that wields the tool. The state that passes laws that say I can't hold a perfectly peaceful protest around Parliament unless I ask nicely… The state that comes out with all this anti-terror crap…

    Yes, the police have some real knuckle-draggers amongst there number. So do protesters – so what's your point?

    What this country needs, and I'm afraid isn't going to get, is a decent, accountable government working in the interest of the people. What it doesn't need are mindless pratts calling for police officers to be killed…

    Oh – and I'm not a police officer, or in any way connected with the police…


  12. >Dear "martin" No my real name isn't "John Steed". Tullyallen and Bramshill – even at their "highest" the police are still idiots. They tried the graduate entry approach and got slightly more literate baboons. Never underestimate the enemy – yet with Plod it is hard to OVER estimate them. Police are not a tool, Britain is a de facto police state. Are you dumb enough to argue the "functioning democracy rule"? My point? Very few of us are knuckle draggers. BTW you give yourself away, nobody calls them "officers" the hold no commission in the armed forces. You logged on at 4a.m and 3p.m. Shift work, Constable. Try catching burglars, muggers and owt like that.

  13. >[quote]Dear "martin" No my real name isn't "John Steed".
    I don't recall inferring that it was…
    [quote]Tullyallen and Bramshill – even at their "highest" the police are still idiots. They tried the graduate entry approach and got slightly more literate baboons.
    There's little sense in arguing with someone too misguided to know when they're wrong.
    [quote]Never underestimate the enemy – yet with Plod it is hard to OVER estimate them. Police are not a tool, Britain is a de facto police state.
    In some ways I can see where you're coming from – particularly when you look at bodies like ACPO for example. It's just that I think someone is pulling their strings as well.
    [quote]Are you dumb enough to argue the "functioning democracy rule"?
    Nope – which should have been clear from my earlier posts.
    [quote]My point? Very few of us are knuckle draggers. BTW you give yourself away, nobody calls them "officers" the hold no commission in the armed forces.
    I call a police officer "Officer" because I was brought up to respect them, and to respect the office of Police Constable. I'll also call them "Constable" if addressing them directly – it's just the way I was raised.

    You see, when I was a child (70's), most officers were automatically worthy of your respect. I admit that's no longer the case, but I can't very well pop off to be raised again, now can I?
    You logged on at 4a.m and 3p.m. Shift work, Constable. Try catching burglars, muggers and owt like that.
    Listen very carefully – I'm not a police officer. Or a police civillian worker – or indeed any other role that's connected with the police.

    What the hell – I'm a computer programmer.

    Being a computer programmer, I also understand that the times you are looking at are "Server Time" – ie the times being reported by the web server for whichever timezone it has been configured to use.

    By way of an example, your previous message (@07:36) wasn't here when I checked this lunch time.


  14. >OK Martin, you started well then let yourself down badly. "Civilian" worker? Plod are civilian. The only non civilian police are Military police (redcaps). I pee myself laughing when all this "Silver Command" sodding quasi-armed forces talk goes on. Gimme a break! Finally, I can only say…when it comes to the police the only good one is a dead one. Yours etc John Steed (or as the Met once called me a F*cking N*g*e* lover).

  15. >The stupidest people I ever met were police (Cambridgeshire Constabulary). A fat one and a weedy little skinny one with very greasy hair. Absolutely retarded.

    If there are intelligent people further up the chain, I can't imagine what their motivation might be, the way they run their forces.

  16. >Cambridgeshire? Whoo hoo! I was "done" for trying to sleep in Christs College grounds on summer long ago. (no Fixed Abode, no job, no money, thanks Maggie). Yes the plod are positively retarded and that is being over generous. Hertfordshire run a joint first in the "trying without luck to fit up the innocent".Hey, P.C O'Keeffe, still stealing stuff?

  17. >Aww, John Steed aka AB Gordon, i see you are still trying to make friends and influence people. Calling for the death of police officers etc, still the same tune. Do you just cut and paste??

  18. >Yes the police have plently of fools in all departments…no question there. Are we a police state? No but we are much more controlled that is true. Personally i would pull back gov power for more local and get us the crap out of the EU. They are one of the biggest elements in the New World Order. Also i have been warned not to take that lovely posion full H1N1 flu jab by THE NHS!!!

  19. >Hey FIT what's the view like from Guardian HQ? Will you still have time to block FIT and log their mugshots now you have made the mainstream?

    Now the challenge is to keep the focus on. The Graun are promising three days of coverage, what about afterwards? Get planning for obscurity after your 5 minutes of fame.

    It is a bit impolite of the Graun not to at least tip you a hat, still your name has been mentioned in vain by several commentators.

  20. >Greetings,

    I thought the F.I.T.watch movement could use a logo.

    You can go to the link(via my name) to see if it appeals. My contact information is at the bottom of my site.

    Cheers, and keep up the good work.


  21. >Apple and her group feel that they should be allowed to monitor and photograph police Forward Intelligence Teams (FITs, hence the name), but strongly disagree with the plods' habit of photographing and monitoring arms protesters. The cops, interestingly, feel that their own snapping and surveillance is fine – but tend to forcefully object to being photographed themselves.

  22. >Yes, I read that one myself "The Register"…

    And it's true – FITWatch photographing officers is a perhaps a little hypocritical when their entire purpose is to stop officers filming protestors… But what else can they do? A strongly worded letter to The Times? They are using the police's reaction to being filmed to justify their own – and it's not as tactic entire devoid of merit…

    Persoanlly, I think engaging with The Guardian is more likely to bear fruit in the long term…


  23. >An air of trepidation is hanging over The Guardian's new offices in Kings Place. Britain's leading quality Left-wing newspaper and its Sunday title The Observer are losing around £100,000 a day — or around £36 million a year.

    Staff have been warned that the status quo is not sustainable. No wonder when the parent company Guardian Media Group, which has bankrolled the loss-making papers during the good times, lost £89.8 million in the year to March

  24. >Fitwatch, as private citizens, are perfectly entitled to take pictures of police. The police however, are paid to do a job, and are using public money to do that job. They are not entitled to waste time and resources take pictures of and harassing whoever they choose; they should get on with their job, or quit.

    Incidentally, imho the Guardian is going downhill. When they published pictures of police assaulting fitwatchers they blurred the police faces. When they published the 2005 'spotter card' they didn't. What's going on?

  25. >So the cops are perfectly happy to use the media to help catch those pesky crims, all too often we see images splashed all over the papers and news broadcasts clearly with the expectation the public is goign to identify these people.

    So these images of the feckless crims however obtained help build the sense fo the cops are hot on the trail of crims, but all is not as it would first appear.
    It now seems that the FIT's are spendign way too much time watching the tele and not confronting the likes of football hooligans (obviouslky way too risky gettign in the faces and harrassing yobs with a tendency to hit back) instead they are trawling Sky news for images.
    Ooops they even manage to get that wrong and end up makign a spotter card type affair with innocent members of the public on there.
    Oh well another shot in the foot job for the hapless ones.

  26. >Constable Sparta, The E.U are the only hope for the working class in Ingerlund. N.W.O? Letting your slip show W.P.C Joanne, next it will be Z.O.G. Ed, is your logo under copyright? I bredrin on The Independent would like to use it. The Grauniad is gov'no as my ex-fiancee in Minsk would say. Victory on'09.

  27. >Constable Sparta, The E.U are the only hope for the working class in Ingerlund. N.W.O? Letting your slip show W.P.C Joanne, next it will be Z.O.G. Ed, is your logo under copyright? I bredrin on The Independent would like to use it. The Grauniad is gov'no as my ex-fiancee in Minsk would say. Victory on'09.

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