…where released files are shared

The Special Branch Files Project is a live-archive of declassified files focussing 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. (N.B. This text has been removed when the Met reorganised their website in early 2017.) The Met and the Home Office may want to prevent further access to this information but they can’t turn back the clock.

This project is indebted to the journalists and researchers who have generously made their files available and accessible as a matter of public record. The site provides access to the documents themselves, complemented with engaging analysis in background stories. The documents reveal the intricate details recorded by Britain’s secret police about a range of protest movements in this country since 1968.

Launched in January 2016, the Special Branch Files Project aims to expand its collection and invites anyone who wishes to share further files, analysis 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 European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and Journalismfund.eu. The files are hosted at DocumentCloud, while the Project website is sponsored by Greenhost in the Netherlands.

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