Animal Equality Condemns Inclusion of Animal Groups in Counter-Terrorism Guide

Last week The Guardian uncovered an official document produced and circulated by British counter-terrorism police. This 12-page pamphlet– designed with police, teachers and other public sector workers in mind – outlines the supposed warning signs that may be demonstrated by individuals vulnerable to radical ideologies. The final page offers instructions on how concerns identified can be reported as part of its PREVENT programme.

Upon inspection readers can find a page dedicated entirely to ‘Animal Rights Extremism’. A number of activities are listed that, in the view of counter-terrorism police, could indicate potential extremism. Many of those listed behaviours are legal, including:

  • ‘Individuals taking part in activist ‘actions’, such as protests’;
  • ‘Changes in behaviour such as no longer eating meat’; and 
  • Wearing ‘animal welfare-themed t-shirts or embroidered patches on clothes’. 

Abigail Penny, Acting Executive Director of Animal Equality UK, said: “More and more people are leaving meat off their plates, with latest figures totalling 600,000 vegans in Great Britain alone. 

Seventy billion land animals are farmed and killed each year for human consumption and, in the UK, around 90% of animals are raised in intensive farms. Many are routinely mutilated and suffer in overcrowded, barren conditions, unable to ever carry out their natural behaviours.” 

She added:“A shift away from animal products not only spares animals from needless suffering, it also has hugely positive effects on the environment, since animal agriculture is a major cause of pollution, biodiversity loss, species extinction and more. It is incredibly alarming to learn that UK Counter Terrorist Police consider this ‘radical’ and we urge them to remove the animal rights section from this pamphlet as a matter of urgency”. 

As the story continues to unfold, it has since been revealed that several animal protection organisations are specifically referred to within the guidance, including our friends at Animal Aid, Open Cages, PETA and Surge. 

In light of this, Abigail Penny stated: “The attitude of counter-terrorist police towards groups campaigning peacefully on behalf of animals is deeply troubling. Animal protection organisations, like Animal Equality, fight tirelessly for a world in which animals are respected and protected. The UK Government must support people’s democratic right to carry out non-violent and peaceful action, not suppress it”.

Following this exposé the guidance has since been withdrawn, though it is not yet known how many leaflets have been distributed to date.