Bindmans LLP represent a number of groups, who have today sent a joint letter to the Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre objecting to their inclusion of their organisations and movement in the a ‘Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre (CTPNOC) Intelligence Signs & Symbols Guidance Document’ June 2019 (the ‘CTP Guidance’). The existence of this Guidance was first reported by the Guardian on Friday 17 January 2020.
The groups listed in the CTP Guidance currently instructing Bindmans are Animal Aid; Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Extinction Rebellion Peace; Trident Ploughshares; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a representative of the Extinction Rebellion movement.
The existence of another guidance document ‘Safeguarding young people and adults from ideological extremism’ (the ‘SE Guidance’), produced by Counter Terrorism Policing South East (‘CTPSE’) was widely reported last week; that guidance has now been recalled. In contrast, the Police response to the CTP Guidance has reportedly been to deny any wrongdoing. Parliament today debated the Home Office’s oversight of the operation of the Prevent programme. During this debate, ministers discussed the use of Counter Terrorism Policing guidance, and the Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP repeatedly confirmed the recall of the SE Guidance. However, the CTP Guidance was not explicitly discussed.
The CTP Guidance lists organisations deemed to fall within the following sub-categories: (1) Right Wing: including White Supremacist and White Nationalist; (2) Left Wing; (3) Animal Rights; and (4) Environmental.
There is, however, no attempt in the document to explain the reason for the inclusion of our clients or any other groups within the document. Moreover, the CTP Guidance implies that at least some of the activity conducted by all of the organisations listed is unlawful and that involvement with or support of such groups might be relevant to counter-terrorism, extremism or radicalisation.
It is not known to what extent the CTP Guidance has been shared nor in what context, but it is anticipated that it has been in circulation for over 6 months and that it has been shared widely including with the NHS, schools, universities, and social workers at local authorities. We are aware of at least one example of a primary school referring to the CTP Guidance on it's website on a page discussing ‘Safeguarding and Child Protection’, where it is listed under the heading “Preventing extremism and radicalisation”.
Jamie Potter of Bindmans LLP has said:
“Our clients are peaceful organisations focused on lawful protest and engagement to pursue their legitimate aims. They are deeply concerned by the decision to list their organisations and movement in the CTP Guidance. They are also aware of numerous other organisations that share their concerns. Individuals affiliated with these organisations may have been referred to the Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre programmes including, but not limited to Prevent, as a result of their support and/or membership of these organisations and movement.
We invite Counter-terrorism Police to immediately acknowledge the unlawful inclusion of these groups within the CTP Guidance, apologise and take urgent steps to retract the guidance and clarify that that our clients, and other organisations, are of no interest to counter-terrorism police and have no involvement in extremism or radicalisation.”