Their key objective for the day was ‘to gather intelligence’, said the Thames Valley FIT officer who was busy photographing a small crowd of people who had gathered to oppose the EDL in Market Square, Aylesbury. Earlier evidence gathering teams had been hovering, photographing and filming the stop and search operation that was focused on Vale Park, the location of the main anti-edl demo. This is an established and efficient way of getting the names, addresses and photos of the young, radical looking people who turn up.
The EDL fared much the same. As they got off the buses one by one, the FIT got perfect head and shoulders shots of each of them. There were no shortage of police cameras. Thames Valley had drafted in FIT from various other forces, including Greater Manchester, Northamptonshire and the West Midlands.
As always on these occasions, the intelligence gathering was co-ordinated by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), this time by Ian Skivens (above right), a Met cop on secondment to the NPOIU. The NPOIU is a private company run by ACPO, which collects, collates and analyses intelligence on ‘domestic extremism’. Skivens spent his time at Aylesbury in the company of a Thames Valley FIT cop, 3465 (above left) who was sporting a digital stills camera with a very long lens.
Photos from Aylesbury, whether they are of EDL or from the counter demo, will find their way to Scotland Yard for NPOIU analysis. The images and data will be ‘weeded’ for intelligence value and put on a database, or more probably, a number of different databases. This intelligence is then available for any police force, agency, or other ‘appropriate’ body to use.
Some people will say, the EDL, rascist thugs, they deserve it. But the powers the police use against one side – the EDL – will also be used against the ‘other side’, anti-fascists, Muslim communities and local people. You don’t need to have done anything unlawful to end up on a police file. And in the anti-terrorism hysteria of our times, it is probably the Muslim communities who have most to fear from inclusion on an extremism database.
On the streets of Aylesbury the biggest enemies to freedom and tolerance were probably the ones with the yellow and blue coats.