UK: Police to stop referring to protesters as "domestic extremists"


Many years of campaigning by the Network for Police Monitoring and others has pushed the police to stop referring to protesters "domestic extremists". It remains to be seen what term will be adopted to replace it.

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Police to finally stop calling us Domestic Extremists (Netpol, link):

"Twelve months after Netpol revealed the decision of the Home Office and other government departments to finally stop using the “domestic extremists” label – and after almost a decade of our campaigning for an end to this highly subjective categorisation of campaigners – we can now confirm another important milestone.

Correspondence between Netpol and the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), has verified that “police have moved away from using the term Domestic Extremism and are at present consulting on appropriate terminology to use in respect of all levels of protest”."

The "domestic extremist" label has long been condemned for equating protesters and activists with terrorism - and this is precisely what certain parts of the state machinery have done, as revealed by The Guardian earlier this year.

As Netpol remark:

"It has often been used broadly and ambiguously in the same context as ‘violent extremism’ or even ‘terrorism’ and yet this is a label that the police have regularly attached to all kinds of political protest and campaigning, especially if it involves civil disobedience or direct action tactics."

A new form of words is likely to emerge soon, but it remains to be seen exactly what that is. Netpol point out that recent police job adverts have used the term "aggravated activism" - although this is wording that the government denies is in use. The organisation underlines that:

"Whatever new form of words is selected, Netpol remains opposed to the use of highly emotive language that, like “extremist”, is intended to alienate campaigners from the wider public and restricts their ability to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and association."

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