Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Gantel waves me over.
“Chief, I know this woman. How did she get selected for a dissident watchlist?”
He looks worried, and is right to be: first degree contact can turn to guilt through ideological contamination very easily. But he’s raised it, which goes in his favour.
I wave my ID over the authorisation pad for his terminal.
“Bring the details up. Let’s see.”
Polly Tanith Smythe, 22, of just down the road from here. That’s surprising. The disaffected tend to migrate to the outskirts or unwanted sectors, like the Port. She’s a certified artist, subcategory: literature. That’s never good. People who work with words have been known to rouse the public. At least she’s not a folk singer. We got rid of most of them during the New Year Purge at the start of the One England Initiative. Any left are keeping their heads down, and play their illegal shows far away from anywhere that could matter.
Gantel points to an entry on a side screen.
“Found it: content creation – detrimental allegorical political comment.” He nods: “She always was a bit vocal about freedom and all that. Even when we explained the 1EI, she couldn’t grasp it.”
You have a go at the powers that be, and the powers that be will have a go in return. It’s an uneven match, but people know the odds. I never understood why they’d risk it. Then again, I’m now a Senior Supervisor at Monitor One, Division Two. The rest of my class are Urban Processors or members of Utility Crews.
“What’s her social media score? Skip the aggregate with shopping and public behaviours, just give me the raw social stability number.”
He checks, then shakes his head sadly: “Whitelist, currently at 1.4, with a strong downward trend.”
Four tenths from blacklisting? I swing the other sidescreen so only I can see it, then bring up her interaction matrix with Gantel. He’s not seen her for eight months, but there’s a sexual liaison query flag. I negate it. Gantel’s been in a stable relationship for two years. I sign off on the quarterly vetting myself.
“Gantel, I don’t think there’s anything you can do. I can transfer her to another monitor if you’d prefer?”
He shakes his head.
“Last time we spoke she said she couldn’t tolerate a friend working for any branch of GCHQ. The argument after that was horrible. I’d be wrong to let this get passed to someone else because of discomfort. Plus, I might spot something others would miss. She’s slipped down very fast.”
“Sterling attitude, Gantel. Clear this through and carry on. At this rate, it looks like you’ll finish your task queue with time to spare, and get a performance brevet for today.”
He smiles and nods. There’s nothing we need to be concerned about with Gantel. I put a pre-emptive ‘cleared’ on his side of the interaction matrix, then close the sidescreen and turn away.
Back to policing the things that could threaten our society. It’s a never-ending, ever-expanding remit.