Here’s a question for all the Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and every other activist out there. Are you now lost in the MATRIX?
Maybe you are. And if so, maybe you should be concerned – very concerned.
“Aggravated Activist” is now the new label which the British police are applying to activists, protestors and campaigners who are taking any action which challenges both state and corporate interests.
What follows is an outline in how the British police force not only have you under constant surveillance and are mapping all your protest movements (on and offline), but how they have now classified you in their Counter Terrorism Policing category as an Aggravated Activist – which was formerly listed as the ‘Domestic Extremist’ category.
In 2021 a review conducted by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services on “how effectively the police deal with protests”, they confirmed what we had long suspected. Namley that the much-maligned term “domestic extremist” was being replaced by the term “Aggravated Activist”.
A recent report released by Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee has given us the Matrix – which more precisely is a “threshold and terminology matrix” that determines who is potentially categorised as an “aggravated activist” and at what level: low, moderate or substantial.
This means that ALL campaigners are now categorised which will ultimately lead to the kind of policing operation they can expect to have used against them.
Whilst presented in the Security and Intelligence Committee report as primarily concerning far-right movements, this information is vital for anyone taking part in peaceful protests across Britain and who are now at risk from oppressive policing, ranging from surveillance to criminalisation.
This begs the question – How can the British police force, who have struggled for so long to justify their surveillance on alleged “extremists”, ever hope to adequately categorise something as subjective as people’s political opinions?
What is the Matrix?
The “threshold and terminology matrix” sets out what its creators have defined as “activities in furtherance of ideology”.
- Lawful activism
- Low-level aggravated activism
- High-level aggravated activism
Alongside this, there is an ideological framework of intended outcomes that are “substantial, moderate and low”. This sets out how and when your actions fit into the above categories.
There’s also a severe category where actions are classed as terrorism.
As far as we know, there has only been one recent prosecution for what the police and security services call “Left, Anarchist and Single-Issue Terrorism” (LASIT) – and that led to a not-guilty verdict.
However, there have been several terrorism prosecutions related to the Kurdish Freedom Movement, especially linked to people travelling to Rojava. The majority of these have been unsuccessful – but it is currently unclear if, and where, these fit into the LASIT framework.
Significantly, the government’s propaganda education materials for schools on the LASIT “threat” is unable to point to any examples that are either from the twenty-first century or from Britain.
Low-level aggravated activism
The Matrix defines the ideological outcomes for low-level aggravated activism as resulting in either “a change to the behaviour of the population (e.g. not to use products tested on animals) or change to specific government policy (e.g. fracking)”, or “the change of economic system or the insistence that particular section of society (e.g. race or religion) conform to certain values”.
From single-issue campaigns to anti-capitalism, there are numerous legitimate political aims contained within such a broad definition. In particular, the climate crisis is pushing demands into the mainstream for far-reaching changes to the current economic system.
In 2019, a statement signed by 11,000 scientists called for “major transformations in the ways our global society functions” and said that “economic growth must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere”.
However, the “threshold and terminology matrix” says that taking action in support of such aims rather than simply talking about them – something that does not appear to have any effect on governments – will push campaigners from so-called lawful activism to low-level aggravated activism.
This happens if they take part in “unlawful or criminal activity” and “activity beyond peaceful protest”(something that is not explained). Inevitably this means direct action and civil disobedience, although neither are excluded from the protection of Article 11 rights to Freedom of Assembly.
As the police often interpret unlawful or criminal to apply to any movement they see as lacking legitimacy, this potentially means any group of campaigners whom senior officers have already decided to routinely arrest.
We have already seen how most of the protest-related changes to the law in the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act were the result of lobbying by senior officers for more powers to deal with groups like Extinction Rebellion.
High-level aggravated activism
Although focusing on threats from right-wing groups, the bad news for anarchists is that the Matrix specifically identifies them as a higher-level threat. It describes “dismantling of the state or rule of law (eg anarchism)” as a “substantial” ideological outcome and therefore “high-level aggravated activism”.
What this means is that activism involving anarchist ideals has been placed in the same “intended ideological outcome” category as violent racism seeking “the death or subjugation of a specific group or significant proportion of the population (e.g. a race of religion)”.
Leaving aside for a moment the British government’s own willingness to quietly drop the “rule of law” from its objectives in negotiating trade deals with repressive petro-states, this is all extraordinarily subjective – and shows once again just how political these categories are.
Meanwhile, any action that successfully targets companies and their economic interests puts campaigners firmly in the same high-level category as a domestic terrorist.
The Matrix defines this as:
“Criminality or activity that has 1) a significant impact on community tensions that could lead directly to violence against that community or 2) a significant impact on UK businesses.”
Essentially that means any activism which successfully targets business interests, even if it is not criminal, is now considered by the state as dangerous as seeking to incite violence.
Why does this matter?
This way of categorising campaigners matters because it defines how organisations and individuals are policed. With the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act and the proposed Public Order Bill currently in parliament, the government is actively seeking to criminalise more and more protesters.
An senior activist from Extinction Rebellion said:
“Senior officers are now using their political beliefs to try and label ours as a way to enable and justify the continuing funding and resources of the surveillance state.“
Essentially a political environment that is increasingly intolerant of protest will bring even more people into this subjective ideological framework of the Matrix and will ultimately mean they are all treated as Aggravated Activists.
If you are in the category of low-level aggravated activism, you are likely to come to the attention of the National Police Coordination Centre and face increased surveillance.
If you are labelled “high-level”, however, this means you are dealt with by officers from Counter-Terrorism policing and are more likely to face harassment, surveillance and disruption.
If the Public Order Bill becomes law, it may also mean you are more likely to face targeting under its stop and search provisions or through Serious Disruption Prevention Orders.
Good and bad protesters
It should be noted here that senior police officers are using their political beliefs to try and label activists. This is a way for them to justify the continuing funding and the resources of the surveillance state.
This is why activists argue that when defending the right to dissent understanding the consequences of intelligence gathering is just as vital as knowing the law.
Netpol’s Defend Dissent campaign argues that activists strength is in their collective solidarity and we, as free individuals, all need to monitor the impact of this new legislation and document any incidences of #BullshitArrests.
The Surveillance Systems in Use
In order to keep abreast of how the British surveillance state works what follows in this section may help you understand the scope of the issue.
The main unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), runs a central database which lists thousands of so-called domestic extremists. It filters intelligence supplied by police forces across England and Wales, which routinely deploy surveillance teams at protests, rallies and public meetings.
The NPOIU contains detailed files on individual protesters who are searchable by name.
Vehicles associated with protesters are being tracked via a nationwide system of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. ANPR “interceptor teams” are being deployed on roads leading to protests to monitor attendance.
Police surveillance units, known as Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) and Evidence Gatherers, record footage and take photographs of campaigners as they enter and leave openly advertised public meetings. These images are entered on force-wide databases so that police can chronicle the campaigners’ political activities. The information is added to the central NPOIU.
Surveillance officers are provided with “spotter cards” used to identify the faces of target individuals who police believe are at risk of becoming involved in domestic extremism. Targets include high-profile activists regularly seen taking part in protests.
NPOIU works in tandem with two other little-known Acpo branches, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Netcu), which advises thousands of companies on how to manage political campaigns, and the National Domestic Extremism Team, which pools intelligence gathered by investigations into protesters across the country.
Protest is protected by both national and international law and is not illegal. This is why we cannot allow the British police and intelligence services to arbitrarily divide us into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protesters in the way they are doing.
Always be aware that you don’t need to do anything illegal or criminal to be targeted for surveillance.
Some people say that you have nothing to worry about if you’re doing nothing wrong.
However that old adage has long since been worn out because we’re dealing with a system of governance that uses its various state agencies to take out their political opponents.
Also be aware that ever since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen ever more egregious overreaches by the UK government. Their police forces and intelligence agencies have already slapped “Aggravated Activist” labels on anyone who has expressed opinions that counter their NWO globalist agenda.
Essentially what that means is that “Wrong-Think” is now a “crime”.
So for this reason you better believe that what ever you say online really matters. After all, do you want the Met Police or Mi5 rifling through your personal data/correspondence?
Let’s be realistic here, figuratively speaking they will always be able to find something to hang you with. Maybe from a post on your Facebook, a picture you posted on Instagram or simply an idea/opinion or comment you made on Twitter.
This is why you’re right to privacy must be protected at all costs.
In a democratic society the way the police use surveillance to monitor our political and social movements is vitally important.
If you have evidence that you have been targeted, please contact RiP in confidence at RamblingInPen@mail.com
If you want to ask if you are on the Police Database there are some guidelines below.
We hope you enjoyed this article, if so, please share it with friends and family.
We leave you now with a tune from Cream – Crossroads.
Peace and tranquility.
Author: Michael W