Police forces across the UK have admitted that they have no policies or guidance that would tell officers when they should pass information about disabled protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Concerns had been growing this year after two forces-Lancashire and Greater Manchester admitted passing information and video footage to DWP about disabled people taking part in protests, including anti-fracking demonstrations.
The human rights organisation Liberty has warned that this is likely to have been unlawful.
The admissions by Lancashire and Greater Manchester police have fuelled fears of a growing hostile environment facing disabled people, which were further heightened by the treatment of disabled activists by the Metropolitan police during this month’s Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Police forces appear to have been relying on the Data Protection Act for legal authority to pass information to DWP, without any advice or guidance to their officers on when this can or should take place.