National Public Order Intelligence Unit

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Group.png National Public Order Intelligence Unit   PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
SuccessorNational Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit
FormationMarch 1999
HeadquartersLondon, UK
LeaderNational Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism.
SubgroupsConfidential Intelligence Unit
Interests“domestic extremism”

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) is one of a number of national UK policing units overseen by the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism.

Official narrative

The NETCU website describes its role as follows:

NPOIU supports the police service throughout the UK to maintain a strategic overview of public order issues, including domestic extremism and the activities of animal rights extremists.
The unit liaises with Special Branch teams within police forces in bringing together intelligence that helps to protect the public from domestic extremism and other national security threats.[1]


The NPOIU was set up in March 1999 to track green activists and public demonstrations. It incorporated the Animal Rights National Index.[2]

A March 1999 report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary linked the new unit to a need, identified by ACPO in July 1998, for a national public order intelligence system:

It is planned that public order intelligence officers in each force area will have access to the unit via a secure network. Her Majesty’s Inspector welcomes the proposal to bring some rationalisation to the present disparate system, but notes that the new unit will operate independently from NCIS, whilst football intelligence will remain a function of NCIS. In the longer term further consideration will need to be given to this system.[3]

THe HMIC report expressed concern that "The announcement of any new construction project that is remotely controversial heralds a period of ‘defensive building’, such as the construction of elaborate bunkers, trenches and tunnels, often containing highly dangerous booby traps posing considerable danger to those involved."[4]

The report highlighted the role of animal and environmental protest groups in particular:

These groups have adopted a strategic, long-term approach to their protests employing new and innovative tactics to frustrate authorities and achieve their objective. There is evidence that some elements operate in cell like structures in a quasi-terrorist mode to keep secret their movements and intentions.[5]

Press reports linked the creation of the new unit to these concerns. The Independent stated the NPIOU would "compile profiles of protesters and organisations considered to be potentially troublesome" and would "draw up action plans that chief constables can introduce to head off disorder".[6]

George Monbiot linked the new unit to proposed legislation that would extend the definition of "terrorism" to include “serious violence against persons or property, or the threat to use such violence … for political, religious or ideological ends”.[7]

In 2006, it was reported that NPIOU officers would be represented on a new group set up by university security officers to monitor the activities of Islamists on campus.[8]


The Guardian has described the NPOIU as "essentially a giant database of protest groups and protesters in the country."[9]

Housed at a secret location in London, its purpose is "to gather, assess, analyse and disseminate intelligence and information relating to criminal activities in the United Kingdom where there is a threat of crime or to public order which arises from domestic extremism or protest activity".
Police in England and Wales collect intelligence on individuals and then feed it to the NPOIU which, Setchell said, "can read across" all the forces' intelligence and deliver back to them "coherent" assessments.[10]

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  1. National Policing Units, National Extremism Tactical Co-Ordination Unit, accessed 11 February 2009 via the Internet Archive.
  2. Secret State: Timeline, Programmes: True Spies, BBC News, 17 October 2002.
  3. Keeping the Peace Chapter 1, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, 1 March 2001, p.18.
  4. Keeping the Peace Chapter 3, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, 1 March 2001, p.49.
  5. Keeping the Peace Chapter 1, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, 1 March 2001, p.14.
  6. methods' of green activists `set terrorist snares, by Jason Bennetto, The Independent,19 March 1999.
  7. Protest and Survive, by George Monbiot, the Guardian, 26 March 1999, via
  8. Counter-terrorism unit to tackle campus extremism, by Roya Nikkhah,,24 October 2006.
  9. Rob Evans, Paul Lewis and Matthew Taylor, How police rebranded lawful protest as 'domestic extremism',, 25 October 2009.
  10. Rob Evans, Paul Lewis and Matthew Taylor, How police rebranded lawful protest as 'domestic extremism',, 25 October 2009.