The Special Branch Files Project is a live archive of declassified files focusing on the surveillance of political activists and campaigners.
In the early years of the Freedom of Information Act, journalists obtained various Special Branch documents from the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office. Unfortunately this openness was short-lived. The authorities now routinely refuse to disclose Special Branch files, including information which they previously released.
As the Met’s Disclosure Log states, information released under the FOI Act is released to the world. A disclosure to one is a disclosure to all. The Met may want to prevent further access to this information but they can’t turn back the clock: journalists who had received such documents in the past agreed to share them and the Special Branch Files Project was born.
The documents archived at the Special Branch Files Project reveal the intricate details recorded by Britain's secret police about a range of protest movements in this country; from those protesting against the Vietnam War in 1968, to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Wapping industrial dispute of 1986-87. Other files relate to the psychological support available for undercover police officers infiltrating activist groups.
The Special Branch Files Project aims to expand its collection and invites anyone who wishes to share further files, in-depth analyses or to support the project in any other way, to get in touch.
The Special Branch Files Project is an initiative run by journalists, academics, researchers and volunteers. It was developed with the support of the ECPMF and Journalismfund.eu's FoX grant programme. The website is sponsored by Greenhost in the Netherlands.
- Project website
- 'Files detailing police spying operations against protesters published online' (The Guardian - 14th January 2016)
- 'Introducing the Special Branch Files Project' (openDemocracy - 13th January 2016)
- 'Special Branch Files Project website launches on Wednesday 13th January 2016' (Statewatch - 13th January 2016)