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Police spies and surveillance

Spies and surveillanceExpansion of the surveillance state stands as the antithesis of a healthy democracy. In the UK, revelations of the routine embedding of undercover police in environmental, anti-racist, and social- justice campaigns has brought shocking details—including that undercover police have had long-term relationships with women they were spying on, with three fathering children.

The purpose of such extensive undercover policing against largely peaceful social-justice organisations is a matter of extensive debate. Some have highlighted how undercover policing, like police surveillance more broadly, has been directed towards the “demolition” and “disruption” of dissent in the UK. Police spying on black justice campaigns, including the family of Stephen Lawrence, brings the question of police racism, its institutionalisation, and most importantly its institutionalised denial firmly back on to the agenda. The involvement of undercover police in building the blacklist of workers in the UK construction industry raises key questions about policing in the interests of corporate profiteering. In answering this, we are again brought to the questions “whose police?” and “whose security?”.

Black justice campaigns prepare for new inquiry into undercover policing

It has recently emerged that the UK police have been spying on black justice campaigns for decades. Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a new judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing. Suresh Grover examines the revelations, and explores how black justice campaigns could mobilise around the inquiry.

Predictive policing: mapping the future of policing?

New predictive policing technologies seem to promise crime reduction. But predictive policing also threatens the extension of policing biases; risks to privacy emergent from the data gathering required; and neglect of alternative interventions tackling the root causes of crime. Are the trade offs too large?

Building the blacklist: police spies and trade unionists

In 2009 a UK construction industry blacklist, administered by a private company holding files on thousands of people, was busted. Evidence is now emerging of police involvement, bringing yet another layer to the scandal of police spies and state surveillance.

Doreen Lawrence, police spies and institutional racism

Allegations of police spying on anti-racism groups shed new light on the meaning and operation of 'institutional racism'. Here, Adam Elliott-Cooper reflects on the Stephen Lawrence Campaign and the MacPherson Report.

Local surveillance since 2001

The almost exclusive focus on the NSA obscures the degree to which surveillance has become integrated into almost every level of government. For most of us, the first point of contact with the surveillance state isn’t the NSA – it’s the local police department. 

On the trail of Britain's undercover police

Recent revelations have exposed the routine embedding of undercover police officers within environmental and social justice campaigns. But piecing together the public evidence on undercover police tactics brings as many questions as answers.

Disruption policing: surveillance and the right to protest

From overt, intrusive surveillance to 'network demolition': disruption is central to the strategies of intelligence-led policing. Deployed within the policing of protest, it poses a grave threat to the exercise of dissent.

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