George Monbiot, someone I have enormous respect for but don’t always see eye-to-swivelling-eye with, wrote an excellent piece about the aftershocks of the Mark Kennedy/undercover cop scandal earlier this year.
Monbiot calls for the abolition of that democratically unaccountable senior plod organisation and PLC, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). This was the organisation under whose aegis the undercover cops spied on hapless environment protestors — the very people who are now being encouraged to appeal against their convictions by Director of Public Prosecutions, no less.
Monbiot quotes a couple of acronyms covering this shady world of police spying: NPOIU and NECTU. But in another Guardian article today — about the police taking pre-emptive steps against so-called anarchists in the run-up to the royal wedding — I saw this:
“The Met is also getting intelligence from the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, a police unit set up in 2006 together with mental health agencies to identify individuals who are obsessed with members of the royal family, politicians or celebrities.”
Que? When was this unit set up, and who runs it? What about data protection and privacy of medical records? Or are these notions already just quaint anachronisms, and a de facto Big Brother database is already in place?
Perhaps it is time for ACPO to make a clean breast of all the little groupings it has set up over the last decade.….