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Police chiefs 'spied on anti-deportation activists'

CHIEF constables compiled an “intelligence assessment” on activists campaigning against immigration raids on homes and businesses, it has emerged.

Police have continued to spy on left-wing activists despite the scandal over undercover operations, the revelation suggests.

The intelligence report was drawn up in 2016 by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, a year after Theresa May had set up an inquiry into spy cops.

Chief constables targeted the Anti-Raids Network (ARN), a grassroots group formed by the Latin American Workers’ Association, No Borders and other anti-fascist organisations.

The ARN emerged in 2012 to defend migrant communities from the then home secretary Theresa May and her “hostile environment” policy.

She launched a fleet of white vans that were used by Home Office immigration compliance and enforcement (ICE) teams to search for undocumented workers.

The ARN informed migrants of their rights, shared leaked details of planned operations and directly intervened to stop raids on shops and businesses.

The network promoted copycat action by local communities across the country and inspired a new wave of activism that appears to have alarmed senior police, who began to study the network.

Although there is no suggestion that chief constables tried to infiltrate the ARN, their investigation found that the activists were “carrying out non-violent direct action such as blockades, incursions and damage to vehicles including the deflating of tyres.”

At the same time as police chiefs were watching the ARN, the Home Office also began compiling “activist intel reports” on protests against immigration raids.

ICE made 64 intelligence reports between April 2016 and October last year, which included recording data on dozens of demonstrations against workplace immigration raids.

The intelligence gathering was revealed in a new report by the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Bolt, a former MI5 officer.

He noted that immigration teams in south London have recently been targeted by a concrete slab and a firework, as well as “derogatory comments” from passers-by.

A limited number of ICE teams have now received training in how to “pre-empt” public-order situations and “conduct a tactical handover to the relevant specialist police team where necessary.”

One ICE manager told Mr Bolt that body-worn cameras could “function as a deterrent to the anti-raids groups and help to dispel trouble.”

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