Metrics of Domestic Security

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Ryan Gallagher in (23 September 2017),  ‘Between 2009 and 2016, British authorities carried out 400,058 “examinations” of people under Schedule 7 — an average of about 50,000 per year, or 137 every day. But few of these individuals were arrested or charged with a crime. Through the same seven year period, according to government statistics, 370 people in the U.K. faced terrorism-related charges. That’s 0.09 percent of the 400,058 Schedule 7 searches, though the true percentage is likely smaller because not all of the 370 charges will have arisen as a result of a stop at the border.’ click here.

Lizzie Dearden in the Independent (29 July 2017),’Undercover police officers have been deployed to spy on more than 1,000 groups, political organisations and gangs, an inquiry into the shadowy operations has found. The figure, disclosed for the first time in an email to lawyers representing targeted activists, could rise dramatically as investigations continue to gather responses from police forces across the UK, The Independent understands.’ click here.

Mark Townsend et al in the Guardian (May 28, 2017), ‘Detectives [in the aftermath of the Manchester atrocity] are also analysing database algorithms designed to spot terrorist tradecraft and terabytes of chatter that record the various aliases and movements of “subjects of interest”. Much of this requires UK officials liaising bilaterally with European police forces or issuing requests to Europol, Interpol and American officials in relation to Libya. Europe’s colossal databases are pivotal, principally the Schengen Information System, which includes details of criminals along with 8,000 terror suspects and which last year was used by UK police 58,694 times an hour.’ click here.


Martin Innes et al in the Law & Society Review (May 2017). ‘The Director General of the Security Service stated in the latter months of 2015 that in excess of 3000 individuals were subject to active monitoring, up from the figure of 1600 given by his predecessor in 2006.’ click here.

Harriet Agelhorm  in the Independent (March 10, 2017), ‘A record number of  white people were arrested last year on suspicion of terrorism, amid a rise in far-right extremism. Official statistics show that 91 out of a total 260 people held on suspicion of terrorism offences were white – a rise of 20 from 2015 and the highest number since 2003.

White suspects made up 35 per cent – or one in three – of all terror related arrests in 2016, compared with 25 per cent in 2015 . . .Counter-terrorism police have said that while the threat is not of the same gravity as that posed by Islamic State or al Qaeda, there are extreme right-wing groups attempting to spark violence. In contrast, arrests for “domestic” terrorism more than doubled from 15 to 35, accounting for around one in eight arrests. Domestic terrorism refers to activity where there are no links to either Northern Ireland-related or international terrorism. Earlier this week it was revealed that UK security services had foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, while counter-terror units were running more than 500 investigations at any time.’ click here.

[Baroness] Jenny Jones in the Guardian (February 2017), ‘While an elected Green, I was put on the Metropolitan police’s domestic extremism database, along with Green MP Caroline Lucas, Green councillors and several journalists. When left to themselves, the police instinctively keep their definitions loose, cast their net wide and overstep their powers. Even though I was on the Metropolitan Police Authority, and working closely with sections of the police to get extra resources for roads policing and wildlife crime, I was on their watchlist, along with 8,000 others. When I discovered what they were up to, my main reaction was to lament the stupidity of the police for wasting their time and taxpayers’ money. It took me two years of pressure before they redrafted their definition of domestic extremism to restrict it to people involved in serious criminality or terrorism.’ click here.

The observes (December 2016), ‘The Home Office has admitted an astonishing fact before heading off for the Christmas break. On 15 December, it released figures relating to terrorism arrests and charges since the fall of the Twin Towers in September 2001. It turns out that since that momentous date, arrests in the UK for suspicion of terrorism have reached 3,349. Yet an overwhelming amount of those arrested were freed without charge. Not only is that a terrible indictment of how paranoia over terrorism may be creating unnecessary arrests. But it also shows, as an ex-detective has pointed out, how counterproductive spying can be. As The Guardian detailed, only 17.8% of those people arrested received convictions related to terrorism. A further 10% faced convictions for non-terrorism related crimes. 1,717 people, meanwhile, had no charges brought against them after their arrest. And 316 faced other actions, such as being handed over to the immigration authorities.’ click here.


The Guardian reports, ‘MI6, which employs 2,500 people at present, deals with intelligence-gathering and operations abroad, while MI5 is responsible for security within the UK. The government announced last year that the security services would be given 1,900 additional staff – and MI6 is the main beneficiary. BBC’s Newsnight put the rise in staff for MI6 at 1,000 but it is believed to be fewer than that, though still substantial.’ click here, 22 September 2016 reports, ‘Taxi drivers in the UK are being trained to become the “eyes and ears” of local authorities and police in the hunt for potential terrorists as part of safeguarding schemes being rolled out across the country.   Drivers in several British towns and cities are receiving Prevent counter-terrorism training as part of mandatory “knowledge” tests introduced by local councils. One flagship scheme, run by Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire, northern England, was considered so successful that councillors discussed extending it to staff working in takeaway food outlets and bars.’ click here for Simon Hooper’s report, 16 September 2016 reports, ‘Touting itself as a campaign providing advice on how to raise funds for Syrian refugees using the campaign, Help for Syria, Ricu has distributed leaflets to 760,000 homes throughout the country without alerting the recipients that these were government communications.  The Ricu initiative is contracted to private companies such as Breakthrough Media Network which in addition to Help for Syria has also produced content on Twitter, Facebook, radio, and The Truth about ISIS.’ click here, 25 July 2016

“In the UK, more than 3,000 British extremists are being monitored by police and MI5. Of these, 350 are under close surveillance. The numbers are very similar in France and the United States.” Robert Verkaik in the Independent, 18th June 2016.

“The number of women and children arrested on suspicion of terror-related offences has soared in the past year, official figures revealed today.A record number of terror suspects were under the age of 18, with a total of 16 children held by police in 2015, according to the Home Office statistics.A total of 280 suspected terrorists were arrested in the course of the year, with the vast majority being suspected of offences outside the UK…The Government figures showed that 45 of the 280 arrests were of females, compared to just 30 in 2014, as part of what the Home Office said was ‘an upward trend seen in recent years’. … Of all those arrested on suspicion of terror offences, 96 have been charged with a crime while 64 are currently on police bail pending investigation.Over the course of the year, 49 people were convicted of a terror offence, while a total of 168 terrorists were in custody. The number of children who were arrested by terror police last year is more than in any other year since records began, the Home Office said… A further 78 suspects were aged between 18 and 24, with 46 in the 25-29 bracket and 140 – or half of the total – aged 30 or older.” Hugo Guy for mailonline, 17th March 2016

“… data released by the National Police Chiefs Council has revealed that of the 3,288 referrals to Prevent in the first half of the year, just 280 – or 8.6% – came from within the Muslim community, or from family, friends and faith leaders. Nearly 2,200 referrals were made by public bodies outside policing, such as social services and the health or education sectors. The rest were said to have come from within prisons or from police investigations”. The Guardian, 25th December 2015

The Home Office reports (figures released on 10th December 2015): ‘There were 315 terrorism-related arrests in the year ending September 2015…

When nearly two-thirds of arrests don’t lead to charges, something is going wrong and many of those arrests must surely have been avoidable. The Home Office may be painting these figures as proof of an escalating terrorist threat but many Muslims could point to the same figures as evidence of unfair and racist policing. And it would be hard to disagree with them. Lee Williams in the Independent, 11 December 2015

Diagram indicating outcomes following a charge for a terrorism-related offence, Great Britain, year ending September 2015



Click here.

Troup Buchanan in the Independent, ‘ two-thirds of those arrested under terror legislation last year were never charged with a terrorist offence…just 124 people were charged with a terror offence out of 315 arrested in the last year (ending September) working out as 39 per cent of the total detained. In comparison, there is a 58 per cent charge rate for all criminal offences, according to analysis from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). click here.

BBC reports (on 3rd December 2015), ‘… The e-borders scheme was meant to collect and analyse data on everyone travelling to and from the UK before they arrive at ports and airports…By collecting advanced passenger information (API), such as passport numbers and nationalities, it was meant to allow officials to “export the border” by preventing people from embarking on journeys to the UK where they were considered a threat…The e-borders scheme has been dogged by problems since its launch in 2003, and in 2014, the head of the UK Border Force, Sir Charles Montgomery, told MPs it had been “terminated” in its current form…£830m was spent on the project between April 2006 and March 2015, with another £275m likely to be needed by March 2019.’ click here.

Christopher Hope in the Daily Telegraph (16 November 2015) writes, ‘An additional 2,000 spies will be hired at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to fight those “who would destroy us and our values” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, David Cameron has said. The Prime Minister will also say that the budget for security at foreign airports should double £18 million a year after a Russian passenger plane was apparently destroyed by a bomb earlier this month. The number of spies will rise by 15 per cent in what is expected to be the biggest expansion of the security services since the 7/7 terror attacks in London in July 2005.’ click here.

 Daily Mail (18 September 2015) reports, ‘…More than 3,000 British Islamist extremists are being monitored by police and the security services’. click here.

Evening Standard (27 July 2015) reports, ‘… a total of 1,069 Londoners have been referred to the government’s “Channel” counter-extremism programme since the start of 2012.  That means that the capital accounts for about a quarter of the 4,000 referrals to the programme nationwide since then…  Since September last year, 400 Channel referrals were made for teenagers and children under 18. 450 Londoners, including 300 under-18s, are part of the Met’s “Prevent Case Management” process, linked to Channel….London Assembly member Murad Qureshi, who obtained the figures from Mayor Boris Johnson, said the capital’s fight against extremism should be led by schools in a community, rather than police-led, approach. click here.

Mirror reports on Prevent’s Channel programme seeking to identify ‘radicalism’ amongst young children: ‘More than 900 children have been identified as at risk of being radicalised by extremist groups such as ISIS – the Mirror can reveal. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information act show 918 kids – including 84 under the age of 12 – have been referred to the Government’s Channel intervention programme in the last three years.’ click here.

The Amnesty website reports, ‘The IPT (Investigatory Powers Tribunal) admitted in a short email that GCHQ has been unlawfully intercepting and storing our communications. How could the IPT make such a fundamental error? How had they failed to notice for over a week? Why had our communications been under surveillance? When did this happen? How did it happen? And what did they do with the information? We soon realised that we were unlikely to get answers to any of these questions from the IPT. The IPT is a secretive and shady body that determines its own procedures and often carries out its work behind closed doors. They are also the single and only body responsible for scrutinising our government’s surveillance practices.’ click here.

The Guardian reports, ‘ Scotland Yard has created an SAS-style unit of armed officers to counter the threat of a terrorist gun attack in Britain. The 130 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) who make up the elite unit have been equipped with new weapons and retrained in new tactics, such as fast-roping from helicopters and storming burning buildings to rescue hostages. The unit has trained alongside the army’s special forces to respond to assaults such as the 2008 attacks in Mumbai and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, which developed into a siege. It will also be looking to see if any lessons can be learned from Friday’s massacre in Tunisia.’ click here.

Rowena Mason in The Guardian, ‘… there were more than 730,000 requests for communications data between 2012 and 2014 from forces across the UK. There were annual increases in applications in each of those years, peaking at just under 250,000 last year, according to the report… Sir Anthony May, the interception of communications commissioner, reported this year that the intelligence agencies and all other authorities collectively had permission to look at communications data more than half a million times in 2014, but he dismissed claims that there was any “significant institutional overuse of communications data powers”. However, he did say: “A proportion of the applications did not adequately deal with the question of necessity or proportionality. There were some examples where the powers had been used improperly or unnecessarily.” click here, 1st June 2015

Peter Salmon reports in : In the course of that hearing [when authorities at the University of Southampton successfully banned a conference deemed to be critical of Israel]  it emerged two documents had been provided to the University, one an otherwise innocuous event risk assessment from Hampshire Police. The second was an undisclosed weekly round-up intelligence document from the National Domestic Extremism Unit at the Metropolitan Police, a Special Branch front…In particular, the Court heard that the head of Security for Southampton University, one Gary Jackson, was friends with someone in Hampshire Special Branch who told him this conference was something to be worried about. This in turn lead to a more formal meeting with the head of Hampshire’s Special Branch (it is not clear if this is one and the same person), where it was discussed that an armed response unit may be required on campus if the conference went ahead. The premise appearing to be that the conference may attract Jewish protesters which in turn would potentially attract terrorists! click here, 15 April 2015.

Sean O’Neill and Deborah Haynes in The Times, March 13 2015: There were 517,326 authorisations for communication data to be analysed under the Regulation of Investigating Powers Act (Ripa) – a rise of almost 3,000 on 2013.  Police forces and law enforcement agencies accounted for 459,919, while the three intelligence agencies were granted 50,582 authorisations. Local authorities were given permission to access data 2,110 times, with the London Borough of Newham acauiring 1,1173 authorisations.

Nick Cohen in the Guardian: …Last week, Canterbury’s Christ Church University revealed that the Kent constabulary had demanded the names of everyone at a debate on fracking. The university is a respectable institution. Its panel included geologists, councillors and engineers. Perhaps their friends and families know something I don’t, but they looked like respectable citizens too.But the police insisted on knowing the identities of everyone in the hall. When the university refused to co-operate, Kent police sent a chief inspector to observe the meeting as an “interested stakeholder”. It did not explain what interest a police “stakeholder” had in debates on climate change, beyond an interest in spying on the participants. Stuart Jeffery, a Green party candidate in the audience, made the essential point that people will be frightened of engaging in the normal arguments of a democracy if the police are taking down their names. He has every reason to be suspicious. Kent Greens are still recovering from the news that the police had logged 22 meetings organised by one of their councillors, Ian Driver. Detectives marked him as a clear and present danger because he organised protests against animal exports (a cause dear to grey-haired cat lovers everywhere) and in favour of gay marriage (a cause so subversive David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition took it up and passed it into law). click here

Dave Smith writing in the Guardian, 11 November 2014: ‘… The role of Netcu [National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit] was to spy on “domestic extremists”, which apparently includes union activists. Responses to freedom of information requests claim that not a single document from Netcu was transferred after the spying unit was subsumed into the Metropolitan police.” click here.

With acknowledgement to – Rapper Mizan’s experience: ‘ I also noticed the inclusion of Muslim artists in various PREVENT related organisations. One notable event was organised by a PREVENT intervention in Hounslow called IMPACT (Intervention for Muslim Progression and the Advancement of Community Tolerance) where the director said that he was coerced in to organising an event with Dawud Wharnsby Ali. There were other Muslim cultural arts and music events that were organised around the UK at this time via organisations that weren’t funded by the Home Office but did have some PREVENT funding attached.’ click here.

Oxford don’s letter to the Guardian:  Martin Kettle must be exceptionally naive if he believes it’s unthinkable that MI5 would be interested in the surveillance of historians today (Being a communist was all it took, 24 October). He backs his case by listing a group of contemporary historians with unimpeachably conventional views, equivalent, let’s say, to the Trevor-Ropers, Veronica Wedgwoods and even Toynbees of an earlier generation. Does he seriously think that, in today’s climate of manufactured fear, infiltration and snooping, our “security services” are uninterested in academics with links to environmental or anti-globalisation campaigns, let alone anyone with an interest in the affairs of the Middle East? History doesn’t repeat itself, as we know, but it does have a habit of just keeping on going.

Jane Caplan, Emeritus fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford

Rob Evans reports in the Guardian: “…There are more than 1,200 undercover police officers operating in 39 units across England and Wales the police watchdog has revealed for the first time…The watchdog [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary] broke new ground by disclosing the breadth of modern undercover work, revealing that there were 3,466 undercover operations in England and Wales between October 2009 and September 2013 and that at the most recent count, 1,229 officers in 39 units are trained as undercover officers. click here.

Official data to be released on Tuesday will show that the details of 1,281 people were referred to the government’s “Prevent” scheme, up from 748 the year before, with officers citing the civil war in Syria as the main reason for the increase…Since 2007, 1,450 children aged 18 and under have been referred to Prevent, the government’s scheme to tackle extremism, the Acpo figures show. Randeep Ramesh in the Guardian, 15 July 2014

“The domestic extremism unit, run by Scotland Yard, has been monitoring thousands of political activists in order, it says, to identify the hardcore minority who have broken, or are about to break, the law during protests…The Met added that the domestic extremism database is maintained in accordance with a code of practice. It said it had recently deleted a large number of files on individuals after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that there appeared to be no justification for keeping some records. The Met was unable to say how many elected politicians were on the database…” Rob Evans and Owen Bowcott in the Guardian, 16 June 2014

“Since last April at least 940 people have been referred for assessment under the Channel programme  because of concerns they are at risk of being drawn into terrorism, according to official figures.The numbers, disclosed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) via a Freedom of Information request, include 467 under-18s – representing more than a third of all juvenile referrals since the scheme, which is primarily tasked with addressing Islamic extremism, was launched in 2007.” Simon Hooper in the Independent, 23 March 2014

Spencer Ackerman and James Ball in the Guardian: ‘GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.’ click here.

“…we know that British police have been inserting undercover officers into protest movements since 1968…When their tour of duty was over, the police abandoned their partners and their assumed identities and disappeared, leaving a trail of broken lives. As the unofficial motto of the original undercover squad stated, it would operate By Any Means Necessary…we know the names of only 11 spies, out of 100-150, working for 46 years”. George Monbiot in The Guardian, 4 Feb 2014

CCTV proliferation –

The number of police CCTV cameras trained on Britain’s roads has almost doubled over the last three years, giving police forces and the intelligence agencies access to up to 26 million images a day, the Guardian (Nick Hopkins, 23 January 2014) can reveal.

There are now more than 8,000 cameras in the network, with senior officers hopeful of extending it further because they regard it as a key tool that helps to cut crime and save lives.

However, the scale of the system is causing privacy campaigners grave concern and senior officers admit they need to do more to address fears about suspicion-less surveillance.

Schedule 7 understatement

– Rowena Mason in the Guardian (2 December): “Britain’s anti-terror law watchdog has said police should no longer be able to detain people at the UK’s borders without any suspicion of wrongdoing, following the detention of David Miranda in August…Under his proposals, officials would still be able to search and question passengers without grounds for suspicion but any delay of more than an hour would need to pass the extra threshold test for a detention. About 60,000 people were questioned last year under schedule 7 powers, while 670 were formally detained, which Anderson said had given rise to resentment among some [sic] Muslim groups who feel they are being singled out.”

More on Channel

– Hugh Muir writes in his Diary Column in the Guardian (19 November), “…. the human rights group Just West Yorkshire submitted a freedom of information request to find out how many young people in the area have been referred to the government’s anti-radicalisation programme, Channel. After all, Theresa May was happy to talk figures in March, when she said more than 500 across the country had received help in the last five years….”

Mass surveillance, The Guardian, Nick Hopkins, 6th November 2013

Last year, 550 analysts (300 British, 250 American) were working on GCHQ’s Tempora programme, which analyses calls, emails and Google search traffic coming in and out of the UK.

‘The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ’, The Guardian, John Lanchester, 11th September 2013

Consider the direction in which we’re moving. Britain has more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the world, by a huge margin. Nobody knows how many CCTV cameras there are in the country, but the most respectable estimate seems to be the one made by Cheshire police in 2011, which came up with a number of 1.85m. Add to this the capacity for facial recognition software, which already exists and is improving sharply..

‘How MPs and peers took on May and spy agencies over ‘snoopers’ charter”, The Guardian, Alan Travis, 16th October 2013

…Charles Farr, the Home Office’s head of the office of security and counter-terrorism …also confirmed that among the 552,000 requests for communications data each year were requests from local authorities for personal data to use in investigations into benefit fraud, trading standards offences and antisocial behaviour.

‘GCHQ: inside the top secret world of Britain’s biggest spy agency’, The Guardian, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger, Luke Harding, 2nd August 2013

…a glimpse into the world of the 6,100 people crammed into the open-plan and underground offices at GCHQ….Put simply, HMG expects value from GCHQ which at least matches the £1bn a year that is being invested in us each year. With so much resting on the agency, its influence has spread across Whitehall. GCHQ now has liaison officers working inside MI5, MI6 and Soca, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. It takes the lion’s share of the £1.9bn budget for Britain’s intelligence services, and has a staff that is more than twice the size of the combined workforces of MI5 and MI6.

‘Hundreds of children identified as extremism risk’, Daily Telegraph, Tom Whitehead, 26th July 2013

The youngsters are among more than 750 children of school age who have been reported to the authorities because of worrying behaviour. It includes drawings of bombs and alarming messages as well as associating with suspected fanatics. The children have all been referred to the Channel project, which is run by the Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and designed to stop vulnerable people being drawn in to extremism. A total of 2,653 referrals, of both adults and children, have been made since the scheme was launched in the wake of the July 7 suicide attacks in 2005. Those reporting individuals include teachers, parents, youth workers, neighbours and even bin men. The majority of referrals involved concerns over vulnerability to Islamist extremism but almost 400 cases involved far right radicalisation.

National police unit monitors 9,000 ‘domestic extremists’, The Guardian, 26th June 2013

A national police unit that uses undercover officers to spy on political groups is currently monitoring almost 9,000 people it has deemed “domestic extremists”. The National Domestic Extremism Unit is using surveillance techniques to monitor campaigners who are listed on the secret database, details of which have been disclosed to the Guardian after a freedom of information request.

A total of 8,931 individuals “have their own record” on a database kept by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. It currently uses surveillance techniques, including undercover police, paid informants and intercepts, against political campaigners from across the spectrum….

Source: The Times, ‘Champions’ to seek out university extremists’, 25th May

A network of civilian counter-terrorism officials who will gather information on the risk of extremism at each university has been installed for the first time. The co-ordinators, all of whom will be in their posts by the end of the year, are officially described as best-practice “champions” who will concentrate on training higher-education staff. But a copy of the detailed job description for one of the posts suggests they will also be responsible for identifying the ideologies and drivers of extremism on each campus. The introduction of the ten regional coordinators was met with criticism from civil liberties groups, who claimed that it would taint campuses with suspicion and stigmatise students. They said that the network, part of the “Prevent” strand of the counter- terrorism strategy, would risk alienating Muslim students. “This is a dubious extension of a flawed policy,” said Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch.

While universities have been reluctant to acknowledge publicly the extent of their counter-terrorism efforts, they have been quietly strengthening monitoring programmes. Privately, staff admit that they have been tracking extremists and working far more closely with security officials than students realise. “It’s not something you would want to broadcast, but universities are absolutely doing a lot more than they let on,” said a senior higher-education official…

James Kirkup, and Tom Whitehead: Concentrate on cyber attacks, not terrorism, Osborne tells spy chiefs, Daily Telegraph, 26th October 2012

…MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, is said to be fighting a fierce rearguard action against any move to reallocate its counter-terrorism resources. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is also said to be cautious about relaxing Britain’s defences against extremist attacks. Senior sources have disclosed that Mr Osborne has asked agency chiefs if, following the London Olympics, Britain’s spending on intelligence should be shifted significantly away from counter-terrorism.

…His intervention, at a meeting of the National Security Council in the summer, is understood to have inflamed a row within Whitehall about the intelligence agencies’ future priorities. MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are all under growing pressure to do more to defend British interests from internet-based attacks.

…One Whitehall source described the situation as ‘a typical Whitehall turf-war’, warning that the disputes could hamper the agencies’ bid for funding in the next spending round. The combined budget for the intelligence agencies will be £2.1 billion in 2014-15, a cut of 7 per cent over four years.

Paul Lewis, You’re being watched: there’s one CCTV camera for every 32 people in UK, The Guardian 3rd March 2011

…he UK is being watched by a network of 1.85m CCTV cameras, the vast majority of which are run by private companies, according to the only large-scale audit of surveillance cameras ever conducted.

The study, which involved police community support officers (PCSOs) physically counting virtually every camera in Cheshire, provides the first reliable estimate of how saturated with CCTV the UK has become….The data from Cheshire was then extrapolated to the UK, taking into account rural and urban differences. The addition of the number of publicly-owned CCTV, and cameras on transport networks, brought the total estimate to 1,853,681. This translates to one camera for every 32 UK citizens.

Tom Harper, Elite crime unit’s database of one million suspects ‘breaks the law, Evening Standard 20th Jan 2011

…An Information Commissioner’s Office report suggests that an estimated one million citizens are on the database known as Elmer – and many may be innocent. It criticises the system, introduced under terror laws 10 years ago, and questions if it is “justified, necessary and proportionate”.

Tory peer Lord Marlesford said: ‘This database sounds like something used by the Stasi in communist Germany. It is in effect a secret database of suspects – none of whom know they are on it nor can they respond to the allegations. It is most un-British and most undemocratic.’

Under the Terrorism Act 2000 every employee in the finance industry is required to send Soca the details of any customer they suspect of a financial crime, and are asked to include information such as their national insurance number, vehicle registration, account numbers and details of relevant transactions..

Jon Boone, Afghanistan’s foreign fighters in the shadows, The Guardian 25th November 2010

Last year it was reported that RAF spy planes in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, had detected strong Yorkshire and Birmingham accents from fighters using radios and telephones. The fighters apparently spoke the main Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu but lapsed into English when they were lost for the correct words.
The threat was thought sufficiently serious for spy planes to have been given the task of patrolling British skies in the hope of picking up the same voice signatures of the fighters once they had returned to the UK.

Robin Brant, ‘Birmingham CCTV system leaves police trust in tatters’, BBC August 2010

A disproportionately high concentration of CCTV cameras located in mainly Muslim areas of Birmingham continues to trigger concern from residents…

Syma Mohammed and Robert Verkaik, ‘CIA given details of British Muslim students’, The Independent, 1st April 2010

Personal information concerning the private lives of almost 1,000 British Muslim university students is to be shared with US intelligence agencies in the wake of the Detroit bomb scare. The disclosure has outraged Muslim groups and students who are not involved in extremism but have been targeted by police and now fear that their names will appear on international terrorist watch lists.

Mark Thomas, ‘Doth I protest too much?’, The Guardian, 29th October 2009

…Mark Thomas [see next entry] talks about “three secret police units” (Doth I protest too much?, 26 October), but a quick search online shows that the National Public Order Intelligence Unit has its own Wikipedia entry and appears in Home Office documents, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu) has its own website and the National Domestic Extremist Team was mentioned in your pages as long ago as 2006.

Mark Thomas, ‘Doth I protest too much?’, The Guardian, 25th October 2009

…Today’s Guardian revelations of three secret police units goes some way to explain the targeting of protesters and raises worrying questions. The job of these units is to spy on protesters, and collate and circulate information about them. Protesters – or, as the police call them, ‘domestic extremists’ – are the new ‘reds under the bed’.

Many of those targeted by the police have committed no crime and are guilty only of non-violent direct action. So it is worth reminding ourselves that protest is legal. Sorry if this sounds obvious, but you might have gained the impression that if three police units are spying on and targeting thousands, then those people must be up to something illegal.

The very phrase ‘domestic extremist’ defines protesters in the eyes of the police as the problem, the enemy. Spying on entire groups and organisations, and targeting the innocent, undermines not only our rights but the law – frightfully silly of me to drag this into an argument about policing, I know…. A police spokesman has said that anyone who finds themselves on a database ‘should not worry at all’. When a spokesman for the three secret units will not disclose a breakdown of their budgets, and two of the three will not even name who heads their operations (even MI6 gave us an initial, for God’s sake), then the words ‘should not worry at all’ are meaningless. Indeed, when the police admit that someone could end up on a secret police database merely for attending a demonstration, it is exactly the time to worry…..

Anton Sethell, ‘We fight extremism, not lawful protest’, The Guardian, 22nd May 2009

…Netcu, the National Domestic Extremism Team and National Public Order Intelligence Unit are staffed with serving police officers. Despite repeated claims, Netcu is not an operational unit and is not responsible for ‘deploying officers from regional forces’; it does not carry out any investigations; it does not collect nor hold intelligence on a database; it does not provide intelligence to industry or receive money from it. The role of Netcu is to tackle domestic extremism by providing preventive security guidance and support to police forces, and working proactively with businesses, academic institutions and other organisations…

George Monbiot, ‘As the political consensus collapses, now all dissenters face suppression’, The Guardian, 18th May 2009

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) now runs three units whose purpose is to tackle another phenomenon it has never defined: domestic extremism. These are the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu), the Welsh Extremism and Counter-Terrorism Unit and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Because Acpo is not a public body but a private limited company, the three bodies are exempt from freedom of information laws and other kinds of public accountability, even though they are funded by the Home Office and deploy police officers from regional forces.

David Leppard & Chris Williams, ‘The home secretary has vowed to scrap a ‘big brother’ database, but a bid to spy on us all continues’, The Times, 3rd May 2009

GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, is developing classified technology to intercept and monitor all e-mails, website visits and social networking sessions in Britain. The agency will also be able to track telephone calls made over the internet, as well as all phone calls to land lines and mobiles. The £1 billion snooping project — called Mastering the Internet (MTI) — will rely on thousands of ‘black box’ probes being covertly inserted across online infrastructure. The top-secret programme began to be implemented last year…

Last week, in what appeared to be a concession to privacy campaigners, [Home Secretary Jacqui] Smith announced that she was ditching controversial plans for a single ‘big brother’ database to store centrally all communications data in Britain. ‘The government recognised the privacy implications of the move [and] therefore does not propose to pursue this move,’ she said. Grabbing favourable headlines, Smith announced that up to £2 billion of public money would instead be spent helping private internet and telephone companies to retain information for up to 12 months in separate databases. However, she failed to mention that substantial additional sums — amounting to more than £1 billion over three years — had already been allocated to GCHQ for its MTI programme.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said Smith’s announcement appeared to be a ‘smokescreen’. ‘We opposed the big brother database because it gave the state direct access to everybody’s communications. But this network of black boxes achieves the same thing via the back door,’ Chakrabarti said. Informed sources have revealed that a £200m contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin, the American defence giant. A second contract has been given to Detica, the British IT firm which has close ties to the intelligence agencies.

Gordon Thomas , Sunday Express, 19th April 2009

MI5 used some astonishing new weapons in its action against suspected terrorists in the north of England last week. Playing a leading role were teams of women who kept an eye on the suspects during the long investigation into what is believed to be the biggest campaign plotted by Al Qaeda since the London bombings. Created by the Security Service’s A4 surveillance division, the teams were tested for the first time in the operation, code-named Pathway ….They worked in two groups: one, made up of 72 elderly women, the other, young mothers with babies in prams. Both had undergone a crash course in surveillance techniques….

Chris Williams , The Register, April 2009

The Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a 200-strong Home Office unit created 18 months ago, has said in meetings it wants to ‘flood the internet’ with ‘positive’ interpretations of Islam. It plans to train government-approved groups in search engine optimisation techniques, which it’s hoped will boost their profile online and battle radicalisation….The Home and Foreign Offices also set up the secretive Research, Information and Communications Unit, which actively produces and distributes propaganda against extremist groups.

Charles Arthur , The Guardian, 14th March 2009

Every call made, email sent and website visited is now being logged under new regulations. What does that mean for investigative journalists – and their need to protect sources? …New regulations that came into force last week – requiring telephone and internet companies to keep logs of what numbers are called, and which websites and email services and internet telephony contacts are made – have left some wondering if investigative journalism, with its need to protect sources (and its sources’ need, often, for protection), has been dealt a killer blow.

Worries focus on the fact that every government department, local council and even quango can access this telephone and internet data, given a judge’s clearance. What will they use it for? To investigate everything from treason to flytipping. Might it also be used to find out who has been tipping off a journalist on a local paper about the misdeeds of local councillors? That’s the concern.

Intelligence & Security Committee Annual report 2007-2008, March 2009

In July 2007….the Prime Minister outlined plans for a National Security Forum, consisting of businesses, academics, community groups, and military and security experts. The aim of the new forum is to:
…harness a much wider range of expertise and experience from outside government, and to help us plan for the furure….[The forum will] advise… the National Security Committee
In July 2008, the Prime Miniser announced that the National Security Forum would comprise a core group of 12 members with expertise covering the range of threats and risks outlined in the National Security Strategy. Its role will be to provide advice to NSID [ministerial committee on national security, international relations and development] and it will also be able to commission research on national security-related matters. The forum will be supplemented by a register of experts who could be called upon to provide specific advice and expertise as required. There will be a dedicated Cabinet Office Secretariat to support the work of the National Security Foru. How the role of the National Security Forum will develop, and what value it will add, remain to be seen”.

Elsewhere in this much redacted report, the parliamentary committee chaired by Kim Howells MP notes, “In October 2007, the Government published the outcome of its Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 CSR07). As we noted in our 2006-2007 report, this included a settlement for the Single Intelligence Account (SIA) which increased the funding available for the intelligence and security Agenices to just over £2 billion by 2010/11…In this Report, we outline the allocation of additional funding between the Agencies, their spending priorities, and their expenditure plans for this additional money…for GCHQ, 78% of the additional £*** million it received will be used to consolidate its current position, with 22% available for further expansion and additional investments in new capabilities; for the Security Service [MI5], 20% of the additional £*** million it received will be used to consolidate its current position with 80% available for expansion and investment in new capabilities; for SIS [MI6], 31% of the additional £*** million it received will be used to consolidate its current position with 69% available for expansion and investment in new capabilities..

A further ***% pf GCHQ’s ICT effort is on what it calls ‘strategic reporting’ – long-term assessments of the way terrorists operate. The Director of GCHQ used *** as an example of this work: We look at the *** for example, so we can identify some of the *** …we are looking to see what these ***”…

The [Security] Service complted the first phase of its ‘Information Exploitation (IE) Programme’ in june 2007 at the qcost of £*** million. The programme provides tools to enable investigators to search across systems, map networks and analyse events based on time and geography. It therefore allows specialist analysts to focus on more complex in-depth analysis. The second phase, when completed, will double investigative capability by the transforming the Service’s ability to process and exploit intelligence. It will improve the way investigators are able to use information from a variety of sources and provide with what the Director General has described as ‘trip-wire’ coverage of significant patterns of activity…

[Editor’s note – related link ‘Data mining dossier’]

Home Secretary’s speech at the Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism, 10th December 2008

£16 million will be spent this year creating new posts across 24 priority forces, as well as funding several other initiatives such as the Channel programme, which is currently up and running in 6 forces. I’ll just say a little bit about Channel since it is an excellent example of partnership in practice. This scheme identifies individuals that may be vulnerable to getting swept up in violent extremism and refers them toward multi-agency support. Since it started in April 2007, the two pilot sites in London and the North West have received over 100 referrals. We are going to expand this further and the aim is that by the end of the financial year, we will bring the total number of sites up to approximately 25 operating across 12 police forces..

‘How the government lost the plot’, The Economist, 26th Feb 2009

Probing and pre-empting attacks by Muslim extremists is now understood to occupy about 75% of the energy of the British security services, who claim to have had some success in reducing the number of terrorist plots that are stopped only at the last minute.

Home Secretary’s speech at the Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism, 10th December 2008

£16 million will be spent this year creating new posts across 24 priority forces, as well as funding several other initiatives such as the Channel programme, which is currently up and running in 6 forces. I’ll just say a little bit about Channel since it is an excellent example of partnership in practice. This scheme identifies individuals that may be vulnerable to getting swept up in violent extremism and refers them toward multi-agency support. Since it started in April 2007, the two pilot sites in London and the North West have received over 100 referrals. We are going to expand this further and the aim is that by the end of the financial year, we will bring the total number of sites up to approximately 25 operating across 12 police forces..

Sunday Telegraph, 8th Feb 2009

A database to track and store the international travel records of millions of people is being compiled by the Government.

The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250 million journeys made in and out of the UK each year. The computerised pattern of every individual’s travel history will be kept for up to 10 years. The government says the database is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism..

Ben Russell, The Independent, 15th Jan 2009

Sweeping new powers allowing personal information about every citizen to be handed over to government agencies faced condemnation yesterday amid warnings that Britain is experiencing the greatest threats to civil rights for decades…. Proposals in the Coroners and Justice Bill include measures to authorise ministers to move huge amounts of data between government departments and other agencies and public bodies. Bodies that hold personal information include local councils, the DVLA, benefits offices and HM Revenue and Customs…Senior figures in British public life are launching a ‘call to arms’ to highlight the erosion of historic civil liberties… Britain could become ‘a new kind of police state’.

Adrian Levy , The Guardian, 10th Jan 2009

…On December 14, the British PM flew to Islamabad to announce a £6m ‘pact against terror’, saying he wanted to ‘remove the chain’ that led from the mountains of Pakistan to the streets of Britain. A significant part of the funding was intended for the Sig [Special Investigation Group] currently a tight-knit cell of 37 full-time specialists that was to be expanded into a 300-strong force with an investigation division, an armed wing, an intelligence department and a research section. In return, Britain asked for access to the Sig’s raw data and captured extremists who might illuminate British plots.

Robert Verkaik, The Independent, 10th Jan 2009

…The wholesale collection and storage of all our email, internet and mobile phone records would allow the Government to know more than it has ever known about how we live our daily lives.

By accessing mobile phone records and using GPS tracker technology it would be possible to discover where a phone-user is on any given day. Police or the security services would also be able to establish the length of each call as well as the number that was dialled. Messages to and from social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace could also be subject to covert surveillance, meaning the Government would know both where we are and who our friends or associates might be….

Nigel Morris, The Independent, 5th Jan 2009

…Police have been given the power to hack into personal computers without a court warrant. The Home Office is facing anger and the threat of a legal challenge after granting permission. Ministers are also drawing up plans to allow police across the EU to collect information from computers in Britain.

The moves will fuel claims that the Government is presiding over a steady extension of the ‘surveillance society’ threatening personal privacy.

Hacking – known as ‘remote searching’ – has been quietly adopted by police across Britain following the development of technology to access computers’ contents at a distance. Police say it is vital for tracking cyber-criminals and paedophiles and is used sparingly but civil liberties groups fear it is about to be vastly expanded….

Computer hacking has to be approved by a chief constable, who must be satisfied the action is proportionate to the crime being investigated.

Last month European ministers agreed in principle to allow police to carry out remote searches of suspects’ computers across the EU.”

Alan Travis and Richard Norton-Taylor , The Guardian, 31st December 2008

..Until now most communications traffic data has been held by phone companies and internet service providers for billing purposes but the growth of broadband phone services, chatrooms and anonymous online identities mean that is no longer the case. The Home Office’s interception modernisation programme, which is working on the superdatabase proposal, argues that it is no longer good enough for communications companies to be left to retrieve such data when requested by the police and intelligence services. A Home Office spokeswoman said last night the changes were needed so law enforcement agencies could maintain their ability to tackle serious crime and terrorism.

External estimates of the cost of the superdatabase have been put as high as £12bn

Sean Rayment, Daily Telegraph, 10th November 2008

MI5 now has nine regional offices and has almost doubled its staff numbers from 1,800 in 2001 to 3,500 today.

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 16th October 2008

The government is drawing up plans to give sweeping new powers to the security and intelligence agencies, and other public bodies, allowing them to access personal data using a wide range of internet sites, including social and gaming networks, Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, signalled.

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 3rd October 2008

Four ‘counter-terrorist hubs’ have been established in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and London. Another is being set up in southern England.

Security officials plan to combat threat of the lone terrorist, 3rd October 2008

Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent of The Guardian, 28th July 2008

The security services are picking up more suspicious activity from Northern Ireland’s dissident republicans than from any other radical group in the UK, the Guardian has learned.

Up to 60% of all the security services’ electronic intercepts – phonetaps and other covert technical operations – have come from dissidents, despite the threat posed by hundreds of suspected Islamist extremists on the mainland….

Although officially police have the lead in security policy in the province, MI5 has taken over surveillance operations against dissident republicans. Due to policing reforms the number of special branch anti-terrorist officers has dropped over the last five years. In some areas, such as West Belfast, the number of experienced special branch officers has halved.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s speech to ACPO, 16th April 2008

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to announce an extra 300 police will be moved into fighting terrorism and radicalisation within communities…In a speech, Ms Smith is expected to say new jobs will include working with communities and existing police, complementing the work of neighbourhood teams…She said the 300 jobs would include ‘new roles’ – such as training others, briefing on where radicalism might be happening, identifying people at risk of radicalisation, working with colleges, prisons and schools and make links to mosques”. In other media coverage of the speech, The Guardian (17th April 2008) noted that the Home Secretary “also disclosed that the joint terrorism analysis centre, which monitors the terrorist threat, is setting up a prevent unit to improve the understanding of what and who drives violent extremism. The information will be passed to the new four regional hubs of special branch counter-terrorist officers…deciding where the extra police counter-terrorist staff will be based will help the process of mapping the political geography of violent extremism.

News of the World’s interview with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, April 2008

…In our exclusive interview Mrs Smith also revealed that in 2001, at the time of the 9/11 bombings, Britain’s anti-terror cops seized and analysed just ONE computer and no computer discs. Yet by last year their haul had risen to a staggering 400 computers and 8,000 computer discs containing billions of vital items of data. At the same time, the records held by Scotland Yard’s anti-terror force have soared from 69,000 files four years ago to 200,000 this year.

The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom‘Security in an interdependent world’ – Cabinet Office Report March 2008

…greater integration to our approach, through the establishment of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, the multi-department Research,Information and Communications Unit, and the cross-government Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, which has responsibility for implementing our cross-government counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST…the resources dedicated to counter-terrorism and intelligence have more than doubled, from £1 billion in 2001 to £2.5 billion today….resources will continue to grow, with planned increases up to £3.5 billion by 2011, including a further £240 million for counter-terrorist policing, and additional growth in the Security Service taking its strength to double 2001 levels; improvements to our ability to monitor and analyse violent extremism; and additional investment in the long-term challenge of tackling violent extremism and promoting greater understanding -with £70 million at home and £400 million overseas in the next three years.

‘Overlooked: Surveillance and personal privacy in modern BritainReport – Liberty & the Nuffield Foundation, March 2008

At the less intrusive end is “directed surveillance”, where a person who is suspected of criminal activity is placed under covert surveillance in a public space as opposed to private property. In this case the warrant for surveillance is self-authorised by a law-enforcement agency, only requiring permission of a senior officer. Law enforcement agencies issued some 23,628 directed surveillance authorisations and other public authorities some 6,024 during 2005/06…

Further up the scale is “intrusive surveillance”, when a person is placed under covert surveillance on residential premises or in a private vehicle including situations in which a bugging device is used…like directed surveillance, it initially requires agency self-authorisation at a senior level but then has to be approved by the Surveillance Commissioner before it takes effect. There were 435 intrusive surveillance authorisations during 2005/06 with no mention of any having been rejected.

“Covert human intelligence sources”, or CHISs, are informants or police officers used as undercover agents, usually to establish or maintain a personal relationship with a suspected criminal. There were 4,559 CHISs recruited by law enforcement agencies during 2005/06 and 437 by local authorities for the same period. The authorisation is by the Chief Constable or a person of equivalent standing in other agencies.

In addition to these forms of surveillance, there is “property interference”..this again only requires self-authorisation, other than in sensitive cases involving a home or hotel room, or where privileged material may be obtained; in these circumstances, the approval of the Surveillance Commissioner is also required. There were 2,310 such authorisations during 2005/06, with four being quashed by the Commissioner for failing to meet the test of ‘necessity’.

…what is sorely lacking from the targeted surveillance framework is independent judicial authorisation….in the UK there is no independent judicial authorisation of intrusive surveillance…without proper and independent authorisation of surveillance, no scheme can properly protect privacy, and civil liberty, nor offer proper accountability.

Intelligence & Security Committee Annual Report 2006-2007, Chairman – Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP

The Service [MI5] increased its spend during 2005/06 by nearly 29% against 2004/05…at the time of publication, the total number of staff in the service is around 3,200, with a further 690 individuals (including Northern Ireland) due to be recruited over 2007/2008.

GCHQ’s net operating costs rose to £***…recognising a need to strengthen its counter-terrrorism capabilities, GCHQ reallocated resources througout 2005/06 to cover terrorist targets. The work was often manifested through direct support to key Security Service investigations – notably OVERT, for which GCHQ temporarily diverted significant resources to support the operation…in our 2005-2006 Annual Report, we commented on GCHQ’s SIGINT Modernisation (SIGMOD) programme – the collective name for projects that represent the work needed to keep GCHQ ahead in the SIGINT business…the complex challenges of SIGMOD and the vast sums of money involved illustrate the importance of procurment….in previous years, the NAO has expressed concern that GCHQ had struggled to meet standards in best practice and achieve value for money…

Public expenditure on counter-terrorism and intelligence has risen significantly in recent years. by 2007/08, annual spending on these areas will be £2.5 billion – more than double the expenditure before 9/11.”

…One of the results of the ambitious recruitment programme is an increased demand for training. The Service launched its own training academy in January 2006 to boost levels of learning and development activity and improve the quality of training provision. The academy delivers a structured and flexibile curriculum that ensures training is tailored….

‘Our State collects more data than Stasi ever did’ Timothy Gorton-Ash, The Guardian, 31st January 2008

This has got to stop. Britain’s snooper state is getting completely out of hand…An official report by Britain’s interception of communications commissioner has just revealed that nearly 800 public bodies are between them making an average of nearly 1,000 requests a day for “communications data”, including actual phone taps, mobile phone records, email or web search histories, not to mention old-fashioned snail mail.

‘Watchdog sides with MI5 to reject phone tap evidence’ Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 29th January 2008

Kennedy’s report [Sir Paul Kennedy, appeal court judge who monitors communications intercepts] revealed that more than 250,000 requests were made over a nine-month period to monitor individuals’ phone calls, emails and post.

Nearly 800 public bodies can lawfully request personal communications data. They include every police force and prison and 474 local authorities as well as the security and intelligence agencies. A total of 253,557 requests for such information were made in the last nine months of 2006, the latest figures available reveal.

The figure compares with almost 450,000 such requests made over the previous 15-month period.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said last night: “It beggars belief that in a nine-month period, based on these figures, the entire City of Westminster could have had their phones tapped …”

[Click here for report of the Communications Commissioner]

‘ Stupefying sums of money…stupid policy’ Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 7th November 2007

“The essence of a secret service used to be secrecy, including of its methods and achievements. Otherwise it is just a branch of the police. In the early days of “avowal” in the 1980s, the heads of MI5 and MI6 would invite journalists to tell them how to go about handling publicity. One, Stella Rimington, was obsessed with how she might do on Any Questions? Others fancied themselves as M lookalikes. The only advice that made them miserable was that they should stay secret. ‘How,’ one retorted, ‘are we ever to lobby for our budgets when the cold war is over?’ The answer of both MI5’s Evans and MI6’s John Scarlett is to join the fear factory.

In 2002-03, before the Iraq war, the security service supplied the Cabinet Office with a weekly catalogue of ‘terror fears’ – anthrax, smallpox, sarin, dirty nuclear devices and a Christmas bombing campaign – to soften public opinion for the war. It was MI5’s answer to MI6’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’, and was the same drivel.

There can be only two results from this abuse of publicity. One is that the public demotes such scares to wolf-crying and treats them as background noise. The other is that, as all scare stories stereotype communities, the host nation distances itself from whatever group allegedly harbours the threat. The latter in turn retreats and denies the police the intelligence required for public safety. In other words, speeches such as those from the head of MI5 are wholly self-defeating.

Stupefying sums of money are being devoted to warding off a threat to life and limb which, I suspect, is far less than was posed by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s…Scaring the public as an act of policy may win a few headlines but it is stupid.”

The Blair government ruined Britain’s reputation for fair treatment among the moderate Muslims on whom stopping a tiny number of fanatics now depends. Abroad it declared wars, bombed Muslim capitals, killed civilians, and initiated a crusade for ‘western values’ among people sceptical of their virtues. At home it extended terrorism laws to make every dark-skinned Briton feel he or she is being made a scapegoat. While Britain remains adequately safe from attack, it has been at a wretched cost.

…One question remains. No sensible person has a problem with rounding up suspects for questioning for a limited period. But if Evans and his like claim to ‘know’ 2,000 Britons who are ‘actively engaged in terrorist-related activities’ and pose a ‘direct threat to national security and public safety’, why are these 2,000 still at large? It cannot be for lack of powers, after half a dozen laws enacted to this specific end.

Could it be that headlines about 2,000 terrorists ‘on the loose as we speak’ are more helpful to the government and its agencies than if they were under lock and key in Belmarsh? We should regret the day the secret service stopped being secret and became just another government front organisation.

Mark Oliver, The Guardian, 5th November 2007

The MI5 director general [Jonathan Evans] said the country’s rightful concern to protect children from exploitation needed to be extended to cover violent extremism….Mr Evans said that when his predecessor, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, made a similar speech this time last year she said MI5 had identified 1,600 supporters of terrorism who were a ‘direct threat to national security and public safety’. ‘That figure today would be at least 2,000,’Mr Evans said…due to a flow of new extremist recruits and ‘improved coverage of extremist communities‘ by MI5.

Speaking more generally, he said the UK’s greatest security threat continued to be al-Qaida, which was conducting a ‘deliberate campaign against the United Kingdom’ and there was ‘no sign of it reducing…there is no doubt now that al-Qaida in Iraq aspires to promote terrorist attacks outside Iraq…Mr Evans also confirmed that MI5’s new Northern Ireland headquarters would open soon. He described it as part of the service’s ‘UK-wide counter terrorism network’. By 2011, MI5 expects to have 4,000 staff, and 25% of them will work outside MI5’s London headquarters.

Michael Evans, Times defence editor, 16th April 2007

Thousands of police officers on the beat in areas with large Pakistani communities — such as Birmingham, Leeds and London — will be expected to keep a lookout for young Muslims known to have become radicals. The information gathered from day-to-day observations will be used to compile a comprehensive database of lower-level extremism. This register will help both MI5 and the police. However, there are thousands of other radicalised young Muslims from countries such as Pakistan, North Africa and Somalia about whom there is no intelligence linking them to terrorist groups. Because of limited resources, they are not regarded as a priority for MI5 when there are so many others who are known to be affiliated to terrorist networks in Britain and, in many cases, actually to be plotting attacks. The fear is that young Muslims who are being radicalised may be persuaded to support the cause of the terrorists. MI5 has built up an extensive archive of extremist activities, according to security sources. But its surveillance officers have time to focus only on those posing a terrorist threat. Security sources say that monitoring extremists is only part of the drive to deal with the growing challenge of a younger generation of Muslims, most of them of Pakistani origin, being suborned into supporting terrorism.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, 9th November 2006:

What I can say is that today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don’t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas….My Service is growing very rapidly. By 2008 it will be twice the size it was at 9/11. We know much more than we did then. We have developed new techniques, new sources, new relationships.

Brown hints at creation of homeland security department
by Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 3rd November 2006

At the Labour conference in Manchester in September, Mr Reid announced a fundamental review of the counter-terrorist police and security services’ ability to tackle the new security threat. He said he wanted a seamless approach to what had become a seamless threat. He is not thinking of merging MI5 and MI6.

The chancellor is clearly thinking of bringing together budgets from the Home Office, the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence. He has pointed out that the security budget has been nearly doubled in the past few years to £2bn. Others put the budget closer to £1.4bn.

Yard merger creates new anti-terror department
by Rosie Cowan, The Guardian, 3rd October 2006

Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist unit and special branch have merged into a 1,500-strong counter-terrorism command, known as SO15, headed by the current anti-terrorist chief, Peter Clarke. The new department, which takes over 70 ongoing investigations, unites the Metropolitan police’s intelligence and evidence-gathering operations. The unit represents a doubling of the Met’s counter-terrorism capability since 9/11. Mr Clarke said two police counter-terrorism units had been set up, in Greater Manchester and the Midlands, with one planned for the north-east.

The fight against terror: Surveillance UK
by Raymond Whitaker & others, The Independent on Sunday, 21st August 2006

Most surveillance teams consist of 16 people, but it can take up to twice as many to trail someone who is very active and does not follow routines. It is believed that about 80 suspects are under intense surveillance, requiring hundreds of officers working full time. Others are monitored more lightly, but still absorb considerable manpower.

Intelligence has become a hostage to political posturing
by Prof Michael Clarke, The Guardian, 7th July 2006

Throughout Britain over 4 million surveillance cameras (that’s one for every 15 people in the country) record a staggering 600,000 images an hour. MI5 reports that it is actively monitoring some 1,200 at the moment – three times as many as in 2004 – and each case can require a team of 30 or more people to maintain a full surveillance operation. The budget for intelligence operations has increased by about 35% since 2001, and over 70% of all MI5 resources are now directed at counter-terrorism operations…”Information” is not “intelligence”. And the police and security services have an overload of one and not nearly enough of the other.

MI5 conducts secret inquiry into 8,000 al-Qa’ida ‘sympathisers’
by Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent, The Independent, 3rd July 2006

MI5 has grown from just under 2,000 staff in 2001 to about 2,500 today, rising to 3,500 in 2008…Much of the work of Project Rich Picture is being done by MI5 officers based at new regional stations with the help of GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham. Four centres: Scotland, the north-west, north-east and midlands are up and running. A further four, in the south-west, Wales, the east and the south-east will be operational by year’s end.