Domestic Extremism is a police term which seeks to categorise a particular kind of political activity. The term is often used to distinguish so-called single issue campaigns or political groups with a militant edge from terrorist groups. Animal rights, ecological defence, anti-arms trade, the radical left and the far right have been labelled domestic extremists, as have individual actors such as the letter-bomber Miles Cooper.
The Government has no formal legal definition for Domestic Extremism (while it has one for terrorism for instance). The use of the label has come under criticism for mission creep, for political policing and for using it as a way to treat protest as a form of crime: a number of people who had no criminal record were nevertheless added to the National Domestic Extremism Database.
However, in 2014 a revised working definition was provided by the Metropolitan Police as:
Domestic Extremism relates to the activity of groups or individuals who commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint.
It is a term mostly used by British police, in particular by the secret units that were running undercover officers like Mark Kennedy, following up Special Branch’s Special Demonstration Squad. The history of relevant police units with ever-changing acronyms residing under the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) can be found at the page of the National Domestic Extremism Unit.
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