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Cycling advocacy group listed alongside extremist groups on counter-terror list

Critical Mass appear alongside extremist organisations in policing guidance - but top officers say listing is not sign of counter-terror interest

Matt Drake,Vincent Wood
Saturday 25 January 2020 17:57 GMT
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Critical Mass is a cycle safety and advocacy group which originates from San Fransico
Critical Mass is a cycle safety and advocacy group which originates from San Fransico (Getty Images)

A cycling advocacy group has appeared alongside Nazi iconography and proscribed groups in a compilation of signs and symbols put together by counter-terror policing.

Critical Mass, a cycle safety and advocacy group which originated from San Francisco, campaigns for local and national authorities to support green forms of transport and develop cycling-friendly infrastructure.

However it was one of a number of organisations ot have their logo listed in a collection of “Left-Wing and Associated Single Issue Groups” compiled by counter terror policing in a document first reported on by the Guardian.

After Critical Mass was first formed in the US in 1992, the movement came to Europe and groups organised mass rides to “takeover” roads to promote their cause. The group has been officially dubbed a “form of direct action in which people meet at a set location and time and travel as a group through their neighbourhoods on bikes”.

Clare Collier, advocacy director for civil liberties NGO Liberty, said: “At this rate, anyone with an opinion is going to end up on a watchlist. While labelling cyclists as extremists is obviously laughable, Prevent – and the Government’s counter-terror agenda as a whole – must be subject to a thorough independent review for far graver reasons. Their questionable tactics not only pose a threat to our civil liberties but to our safety.”

Climate change protest groups Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace were also listed in the 24-page document - which counter terror police officials said did not signify any concern about the activities of the group.

Instead Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national co-ordinator for the UK’s counter-terror police, said the glossary existed to provide context to those looking out for signs of radicalisation.

He said: “We need our officers, front-line police colleagues and partners to be able to understand what organisations people may be affiliated with, and what their aims and activities – lawful or otherwise – are.

“But the guidance document in question explicitly states that many of the groups included are not of counter-terrorism interest, and that membership of them does not indicate criminality of any kind. To suggest anything else is both unhelpful and misleading.”

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism. It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers.”

The Independent has contacted Critical Mass for comment.

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