When you are somehow in contact with police, as a victim, witness or offender, you can expect police to have data on you. Police have to be registered as data controllers, so that you are aware of this and can look up what they may do with the data they have on you (which they primarily obtain from you, in that case).
I carried out a search in the ICO database on “police Hampshire”. It turned up two records, of the Hampshire Police Federation (regarding its members) and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire (see here). The latter covers the data Hampshire Police has on citizens. It surprised me that the registration includes potential sharing of data with traders in personal data. This is one of the default entries, however, and I am assuming that they have left it in, just in case (a form of “CYA”).
So far so good. You would think that it becomes a different matter if you happen to be standing on the pavement eating a cheeseburger when some kind of demonstration takes place. Does that mean that your photo gets taken and you become included in the National Domestic Extremism Database?
I’ll spare you the details but as of January, I have been extremely aware of the enormous power police officers hold to screw someone royally, to put it bluntly. A chill ran down my spine when I found out something that I had been unaware of until then. The kind of coincidence that I had been a bit worried about as a result happened recently, when I discovered that I had been in Parliament Square just a few hours before Occupy planned to occupy Parliament Square. I was completely unaware of those plans, and saw nothing out of the ordinary (perhaps because I am not familiar with Parliament Square).
I am sure I stood there for a while looking pretty suspicious, however. Among other things, I was timing distances, for the sake of planning any future journeys to meetings. In the past, would that already have gotten me into the National Domestic Extremism Database because my behaviour was out of the ordinary? Non-touristy? Puzzling?
Believe it or not, there can be silly coincidences that have someone present at some kind of demonstration five times in a row. We all see such silly coincidences in other areas of our lives, after all. Does that justify the inclusion in the National Domestic Extremism Database? Of course not, but unless media shine a light on what goes on and one or two gutsy personalities take to the courts, a great deal of this kind of activity remains completely hidden from sight.
The National Domestic Extremism Database is not the only database you have to be concerned about. The police’s Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS) can keep data up to twelve years. You would think that this CRIS system contains only crime data. It does not. CRIS contains data on serious offences, minor offences and about conduct that does not amount to an offence at all.