The Metropolitan Police holds more than 2,000 records relating to journalists and photographers on a confidential anti-extemist database, it has been reported today.
The records are held by the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit, and the figure of 2,000 was released by the Met under the Freedom of Information Act.
Press Gazette has been told by one well placed source that the Met also holds files on journalists who write about police issues.
When Press Gazette asked the Met about this they said they could not comment publicly on such matters.
The source said: “The Met should come clean on the intelligence files held on journalists who published stories and of the level of knowledge they have on the role of senior management in stories that appeared in the press which they have until now happily ignored.”
The Times reports today that the records are held on a Special Branch intelligence system, which is codenamed 'Fairway', and holds information on groups and events as well as individuals.
The Met searched the terms "reporter", "journalist", "photojournalist" and "photographer" on the database, and said that the combined number of records held – without providing a breakdown – was in excess of 2,000.
These are understood not to relate to 2,000 individuals, because some journalists will be mentioned more than once. The Times gave the example of journalist and comedian Mark Thomas, who is reportedly mentioned 60 times.
A Met Police spokesman told Press Gazette: "It would be wrong to suggest that the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit [NDEDIU] database holds over 2,000 records specifically about journalists or photographers.
"The vast majority of records show that these words are used as part of a wider record to accurately describe an event, for example 'a group of photographers were also present at the demonstration.'"
He added: "Records are managed according to the Management of Police Information (MOPI) statutory code of practice, which provides a clear framework for the collation and retention of information for policing purposes.
"The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit [NDEDIU] database is maintained according to this code of practice and when records are reviewed, where appropriate in line with MOPI they are deleted."