Police got it badly wrong about Extinction Rebellion – Steve Cardownie

The inclusion of climate campaigners Extinction Rebellion in a police document about protecting young people from ideological extremism was a big mistake, writes Steve Cardownie.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Extinction Rebellion campaigners on the march in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Some time ago I wrote about the climate emergency campaign group Extinction Rebellion, saying that they would have to give careful consideration to the tactics they were deploying if they were not to alienate the very public whose support they were attempting to enlist.

Blocking traffic and delaying trains was hardly likely to endear them to commuters and their message could well be lost in a sea of criticism about their methods. It did, however, come as a surprise to me to learn that they had been listed as promoting an “extreme ideology” by counter-terrorism police.

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Apparently XR were deemed to be a threat to young people with concern their activists “may encourage vulnerable people to perform acts of violence” – as stated in a guide designed to stop young people being radicalised.

It goes on to say: “Anti-establishment philosophy that seeks system change underlies its activism.

“The group attracts to its events school-age children and adults unlikely to be aware of this. While ­non-violent against persons, the campaign encourages other law-breaking activities.”

The police have since issued a statement stating that the inclusion of Extinction Rebellion in the document called Safeguarding Young People and Adults from Ideological Extremism was an “error of judgement” and that the guide was being withdrawn.

This is all well and good, but it does provide an insight into how the organisation has been unfairly maligned within some sections of the police force – either that or somebody with a bit of savvy should exert tighter control over the content of such important guidance.