The Vancouver-created international environmental organizations Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been listed by U.K. counterterrorism policing officials alongside neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anarchists and animal rights groups.
The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported the Counter Terrorism Policing group produced a guide for distribution to hospitals and schools across England as part of anti-extremism training for an anti-radicalization scheme. The scheme was designed to create awareness around and to catch people at risk of involvement in terrorist violence, the newspaper reported.
Other groups listed include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); Stop the Cull, a badger advocacy group supported by Queen rock guitarist Brian May; Pagans United Against Fracking; and Extinction Rebellion, supported by teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
However, deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon said in an online statement that Counter Terrorism Policing does not consider all listed groups as extremist or a threat to national security.
“Does this mean that we consider those groups, and the people who support them, to be extremists who pose a threat to national security?” he said. “The simple answer is no.”
Haydon said the Signs and Symbols document was created “to help frontline officers and other colleagues make informed decisions – including protecting crowded places at times of protest.”
He said it would also help close partners of police to know the differences between the symbols.
Further, Haydon said, “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.
He said officers in the U.K. work frequently to facilitate peaceful protest.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said in a statement that tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush won't help fight terrorism.
"It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers,” he said. "There is nothing extremist about people from all walks of life taking peaceful, non-violent action to stop climate chaos and ecological collapse. The absurd irony is that this programme is aimed at the first-ever generation of school kids who have understood the existential threat we face and have taken to the streets asking for more action.
"How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?” Sauven asked.
Sea Shepherd was not immediately available for comment.