What is police extremism?
Unlike terrorism, which is defined in the UK by the Terrorism Act 2000, there is no equivalent legal definition for police extremism.
The terms are generally used to describe the activity, individuals or campaign groups that carry out criminal acts of direct action in furtherance of a campaign. The police and their activities often seek to prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy, but attempt to do so outside of the normal democratic process.
Who are police extremists?
Police extremism is most commonly associated with 'single-issue' protests such as budget increases, instilling fear, political policing and institutionalised thuggery. Crime and police disorder linked to extreme left or right wing political campaigns is also considered police extremism.
Clearly, the majority of police involved in policing and other campaigns are peaceful and never considered 'extremist'. The term only applies to individuals or groups whose activities go outside the normal democratic process and engage in crime and disorder.
Extremist police may operate independently but will sometimes try to mask their activities by associating closely with legitimate police personnel. ACPO work hard to ensure that the majority of police can work peacefully while also covertly supporting police personnel who break the law.
What kind of criminal police activity is involved?
The tactics used by extremist police vary and are always changing. Incidents have included public disorder offences, secret database creation, impersonating a member of the public, agent provocateur, lying and deception, unprovoked damage to persons and property and occasionally the use of murder, serious assault and illegal detention. Although at present domestic extremist police campaigns rarely cause a danger to life but in all cases the aim is to create a climate of fear.