Vegan activist groups, anti-fascist groups and an animal charity have been included in a counter-terrorism police guide, alongside neo-Nazi and right-wing groups.
The guide is from June 2019 and produced by Counter Terrorism Policing. It is part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to combat terrorist violence. It lists Nationalist groups such as Britain First, English Defence League, and Make Britain Great Again.
But PETA, Animal Aid, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, are also among those listed alongside a number of extremist groups.
Counter Terrorism Policing said many of the groups listed on the guidance document in question are not of counter terrorism interest, and that membership of them does not indicate criminality of any kind.
A number of non-violent groups listed on the document have spoken about their shock in seeing the inclusion of their organisations alongside groups associated with holding fascist ideology. The animal charity PETA has hit out against the guide calling it “dangerous” and “undemocratic”.
‘This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations’
PETA’s director, Elisa Allen, said: “This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations – something that is as dangerous as it is undemocratic. The animal protection movement is a mainstream movement made up of thousands of organisations and millions of people from around the world who stand up against the exploitation and mistreatment of animals.
“PETA's actions range from peaceful protests designed to inform consumers to working with law-enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators of animal cruelty to justice. Today, millions of people are vegan, fur sales are plummeting, and hundreds of companies no longer test their products by poisoning mice and rabbits, thanks to peaceful and effective activism by animal rights campaigners.”
‘It is imperative that this damaging document is immediately withdrawn’
Another non-profit organisation, Animal Aid, has said that police should focus their efforts on genuine threats to national security, not peaceful campaigners.
A spokesperson said: “We are profoundly shocked to see our organisation listed in this way. Animal Aid is a completely peaceful organisation, with a strict policy of non-violence. We have campaigned peacefully against animal cruelty for more than 40 years, so to see our compassionate organisation listed alongside neo-Nazi and terrorist groups is absolutely soul-destroying. What could be less extreme than our campaigning peacefully for a cruelty-free world, where animals are allowed to live out their lives without being exploited or killed?
“The inclusion of Animal Aid in this guidance, alongside other peaceful organisations, shows a fundamental lack of understanding of animal protection campaigning. It is imperative that this damaging document is immediately withdrawn, and its content completely overhauled so that peaceful, progressive groups are not included within it. The authorities should focus their efforts on genuine threats to national security, not peaceful campaigners who are simply trying to create a kinder world.”
Counter Terrorism Policing: 'Many of the groups included are not of counter terrorism interest'
Pictures of the guide were posted on the Guardian, and Counter Terrorism Policing issued a statement in response.
A statement by Dean Haydon, for Counter Terrorism Policing, said its focus is “absolutely not on lawful protest or legitimate causes taken up by activists across the country”.
Haydon said: “Counter Terrorism Policing creates a range of guidance and documents for use across the whole of policing, not just by Counter Terrorism officers or Prevent practitioners. We produce these documents to help frontline officers and other colleagues make informed decisions – including protecting crowded places at times of protest”.
He added: “The guidance document in question explicitly states that many of the groups included are not of counter terrorism interest, and that membership of them does not indicate criminality of any kind. To suggest anything else is both unhelpful and misleading.”