January 2015 – Report by Jenny Jones finds that the police have “overreached and misused their powers, aided by illiberal legislation that is not fit for purpose”.
With the publication of “The Surveillance State”, Jenny Jones delivered a stinging attack on London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for London, accusing him of “turning a blind eye” instead of holding the Metropolitan Police to account.
The report looks at the Met’s use of undercover police, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and police databases.
Jenny Jones said:
“In recent years [the Mayor] has been content for the Met to spy on journalists, lawyers, campaigners for police accountability, and even the politicians who hold them to account.“I want those who pose a genuine threat to society watched, not everybody. When the police must use intrusive powers they should be focussed on those individuals who pose a threat ofserious harm and carry out serious criminal acts, not on the people who have not committed a crime and simply seek to exercise their fundamental rights.“The police are wasting their time and money in creating a surveillance state which catches large numbers of innocent people in its web. The Mayor is choosing not to defend civil liberties.”
Jones’ report details her work to have the Met redefine its definition of ‘domestic extremism’ in order for it to be focussed on serious criminality and in line with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) recommendations. The number of records on the domestic extremism database were subsequently reduced from 27,500 records in January 2012 to 2,871.
The report makes eleven recommendations, including:
- The Met should review all databases and delete or substantially redesign any that are illegal under human rights or data protection law, and review all databases to ensure they are“effective, proportionate and necessary, with a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions.”
- The terms of deployment for undercover officers should make clear that officers are expressly forbidden from entering into intimate or sexual relationships as part of their job whilst under their undercover persona.
- The Mayor should ask far more detailed questions about the use of RIPA by the Met. For a breakdown of what crimes it is used against, the success rate in terms of prosecutions, whether it is targeted at suspects or others such as journalists. Where possible this information should be made publicly available in some form.