‘Airport-style’ harassment to “help people who use public transport feel safer.”
May 22, 2013
Travel by train, tram or bus to destinations in central England and
you are increasingly likely to be greeted by Britain’s ‘yellowjackets’:
the high-visibility uniforms of Britain’s police force.
Image: Sandwell Police
‘Airport-style’ security checkpoints are being rolled out at local
bus and train stations up and down the UK after local pilot schemes
conducted over the last two years were deemed a success by police.
The checkpoints comprise metal detector arches, drug-sniffing dogs ,
police pat-downs and bag searches. The reason? To “help people who use
public transport feel safer.”
Over the last couple of years more and more of these ‘security’
checkpoints have been quietly introduced at local bus and train stations
across the UK under a number of pretexts that simply don’t bear up to
One such stop-and-search operation last week (May 15th) at West
Bromwich bus station in the West Midlands, was captured in this short
video clip showing a police officer rifling through a man’s pockets
 while he holds up his wallet for potential inspection. The other
photographs here were tweeted by Sandwell Police on the day.
According to the police this operation and others like it are not
related to the ongoing mission creep that police so often attempt to
justify with their trump card of ‘terrorism’; instead they represent an
increasing shift towards ‘pro-active’ policies which threaten to become a
part of everyday policing in Britain today. This Youtube clip shows a
‘Day of Action’ by Sandwell Police, who took to Twitter to explain that,”the
aim of this operation is to reduce crime and anti social behaviour and
offer community reasurance (sic) and assist in any prosecutions,” [specifically to] “focus on drugs and anti-social behaviour.”
Quite how emptying people’s pockets can reduce ‘anti-social
behaviour’ is not clear, but by the end of the day the police were busy
tweeting the day’s results:
Image: Sandwell Police
“Drugs dog  at West Bromwich bus station. Lots of people stopped but no drugs found.”
The tweets continued, “We’ve had some nice feedback
regarding our ‘day of action’. Thanks for your support. No crime has
been reported in West Bromwich town today!”
So, with no drugs found and no crime of any kind reported, what
possible value could there be in stopping and searching hundreds of
law-abiding citizens? Perhaps the following tweet provides one of
several possible answers: “20 people have been checked on the police
national computer (PNC). Some have previous convictions for robbery so
intelligence has [been] submitted.”
Leaving aside the obvious injustice of stopping and searching
everybody ‘just in case’ one or two people turn out to be guilty of some
wrongdoing, these indiscriminate fishing expeditions are neither an
effective way to ‘catch criminals’ nor to ‘keep us safe’.
Last week’s ‘day of action’ at West Bromwich bus station is by no
means a one-off, and this apparently crime-free bus station is no
stranger to such police operations. In 2010 Sandwell Police launched a
‘Safer Travel’ scheme called Safer Six, a pilot scheme carried out in
six towns across the region over a six week period spanning October and
November. It too was branded as a “community reassurance” exercise
designed “to help people who use public transport feel safer,” as one
local Sergeant put it. More specifically the police explained, “Our aim
is to detect people who are carrying weapons.” This video
 shows the travelling public being herded through a metal detector
arch (often described by police in Orwellian terms, as “safety arches”)
before being stopped, searched and sniffed up by a police drugs dog. The
operation was repeated in the autumn of 2011 and again in 2012 and was
considered so successful that it is now being rolled out across the
entire West Midlands region on a permanent basis. A press release  by West Midlands Police in January 2013 states that:
“Airport-style metal detectors popped-up at West Bromwich bus
station yesterday as a police blitz on knife crime continued. Around 500
commuters of all ages passed through the portable devices – known by
police as knife arches – in just four hours.”
Image: Sandwell Police
Just how successful was the operation then? Well, about as ‘successful’ as last week’s ‘day of action’:
“No knives or other illegal items were recovered in the operation. No arrests were made,” the press release reveals.
Perhaps all the knife-wielding criminals managed to avoid detection
by not using buses and trains for the full six weeks? Well no, it seems
that knife-wielding criminals are a bit thin on the ground in West
Bromwich, as the police acknowledged:
“The decision to set up the knife arches in West Bromwich wasn’t
based on there being large instances of knife crime in the town, but
part of an ongoing and broader safety programme which will be replicated
at bus, tram and train stations across the entire West Midlands in the
Once again we are told that we must sacrifice our rights and freedoms
in the name of ‘safety’, even though police admit that the supposed
risk of harm is somewhat negligible and not the real focus of the
If the success of the operation is not judged by the number of
arrests made, or the quantity of drugs and weapons seized, or the number
of dangerous criminals taken off the streets, then what is the purpose
of these exercises? Perhaps the phrase “public reassurance” could be
more accurately expressed another way. How about “conditioning the
public to accept the ever-growing police state by normalising such
unnecesssary and demeaning security theatre.” Or “exploiting dubious
safety fears to deprive citizens of their fundamental rights and
freedoms.” Or how about “inverting the centuries-old fundamental legal
principle that we are all ‘innocent until proven guilty’ by treating us
all as suspects, demanding that we prove our innocence.” I could go on…
The following line from a well known novel accurately describes policing in Britain today:
“For distances of less than 100 kilometres it was not
necessary to get your passport endorsed, but sometimes there were
patrols hanging about the railway stations, who examined the papers of
any Party member they found there and asked awkward questions.”
(George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four).
The truth is that these police operations aim to condition the public
to accept, submit and grow accustomed to what is essentially an
unlawful stop and search.
Section 1 of PACE
(Police and Criminal Evidence Act)  does allow ‘Stop and Search’,
but only if the police have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that someone
has committed a crime, as explained in PACE Code of Practice ‘Code A’ (.pdf)
. The Code says, “There must be an objective basis for that
suspicion based on facts, information, and/or intelligence which are
relevant to the likelihood of finding an article of a certain kind” and
“Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on generalisations or
stereotypical images of certain groups or categories of people” [such as
'users of public transport'] “as more likely to be involved in criminal
A police officer needs ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you are
carrying a weapon, drugs or stolen goods, or that you are a terrorist.
Can any of these justifications be applied to an entire arrivals
terminal at a transport hub? No, of course not.
Since checkpoints like these are being applied en masse to people
whom the police have absolutely no “reasonable grounds” to suspect of
criminality, the police cannot lawfully compel people to submit to such
searches. Therefore the public must be doing so “voluntarily,” although
somehow I suspect that they are not told this.
In the upside-down Orwellian world that we now inhabit, the only real
criminals identified at West Bromwich bus station during their ‘day of
action’ are the police themselves. Substitute the term ‘brownshirts’ for
‘yellowjackets’ and you get the picture.
To quote the Russian novelist who provided the original inspiration
for George Orwell’s dystopian classic, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’:
“When a man’s freedom is reduced to zero, he commits no crimes.
That’s clear. The only means to rid man of crime is to rid him of
- Yevgeny Zamyatin, ‘We’.
Steve Jolly is a campaigner, journalist and spokesman for the campaign group No CCTV.
He has written for the London Guardian, Big Brother Watch and Infowars.
His successful campaign against ‘Project Champion’ – a police
surveillance operation in Birmingham UK – forced the Chief constable to
publicly apologise, scrap the scheme and remove 216 surveillance cameras
from parts of the city. He was nominated for a Human Rights Award in
2010 and appeared before the UK parliament to give evidence on the
Protection of Freedoms Bill about new CCTV laws. Steve writes and gives
media interviews about camera surveillance and related issues.
Paul Joseph Watson
Provision is part of controversial MAP-21 bill expected to pass House
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A bill already passed by the Senate and set to be rubber
stamped by the House would make it mandatory for all new cars in the
United States to be fitted with black box data recorders from 2015
Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813
(known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be
installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to
be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.
“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of
this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of
Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that
new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with
an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,”
states the bill.
Although the text of legislation states that such data
would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government
would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances,
including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available,
and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the
Secretary of Transportation.
Given the innumerable examples of both government and
industry illegally using supposedly privacy-protected information to spy
on individuals, this represents the slippery slope to total Big Brother
surveillance of every American’s transport habits and location data.
The legislation, which has been given the Orwellian
title ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’, sailed
through the Senate after being heavily promoted by Democrats Harry Reid
and Barbara Boxer and is also expected to pass the Republican-controlled
Given the fact that the same bill also includes a controversial provision that would empower the IRS to revoke passports of citizens
merely accused of owing over $50,000 in back taxes, stripping them of
their mobility rights, could the mandatory black boxes or a similar
technology be used for the same purpose?
Biometric face-recognition and transdermol sensor
technology that prevents an inebriated person from driving a car by
disabling the automobile has already been developed, in addition to systems that refuse to allow the vehicle to start if the driver is deemed to be overtired.
The ultimate Big Brother scenario would be a system
whereby every driver had to get de facto permission from the state to
drive each time they get behind the wheel, once it had been determined
from an iris scan that they were good citizens who have paid all their
taxes and not misbehaved.
The push to pressure car manufacturers to install black
box tracking devices in all new cars has been ongoing for over a decade.
In 2006, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraged but did not require automobile manufacturers to install the systems.
However, in February last year NHTSA administrator David
Strickland said the government was considering making the technology
mandatory in the wake of recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles.
Earlier this year it was reported
that the NHTSA would soon formally announce that all new cars would be
mandated to have the devices fitted by law, which has now been codified
into the MAP-21 bill.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com.
He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular
fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars Nightly News.
Big Brother Will Be Watching You!
In an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of
surveillance as China and Iran, police and intelligence officers are to
be handed powers to monitor people’s messages online. The plans have
been described as an “attack on the privacy” of a vast number of Britons
by the Independent and have attracted little support from backbench MP’s.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced the governments intention
to introduce legislation in next month’s Queen’s Speech which would
allow law-enforcement agencies to check on social media, online gaming
forums, calls, emails, texts and website traffic. The plans would give
officials the right to know “who speaks to whom on demand and in real
time”. The Home Office has said that the new law would keep
crime-fighting abreast of communications developments and that a warrant
would still be required to view the content of messages.
The Government has offered no justification for what is unprecedented
intrusion into our lives, nor explained why promises made about civil
liberties are being casually junked. The silence from Home Office
ministers has been deafening. It is remarkable that they wish to pry
into everything we do online but seem intent on avoiding any public
These plans are an unprecedented attack on privacy online and it is
far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding
significant costs to internet business. No amount of scare-mongering
can hide the fact that this policy is being condemned by MPs in all
Sign the petition against this bullshit Here
Police spying in Northern Ireland is about to take on a whole
new form - one that belongs more to the world of George Orwell's 1984.
They are small enough
to fit into a rucksack and can be assembled and deployed within
The extremely intrusive modern day watchtower is fitted with a spy camera that automatically tracks a
subject, can relay live pictures back to the operator, has a two mile range, can hover and fly at ground speeds of 30 miles per hour.
60 Drones can be deployed for the same cost as 1 helicopter
CCTV Automatically Tracks Citizens In Real Time
Its time to make sure your behavior is exactly the same as every other citizen!
An innovative technology that allows CCTV operators to track citizens
in real time, that predicts their movements and automatically logs the
CCTV for evidential purposes was revealed at the recent OmniCompete
pitch live competition in London, part of the Global Security Challenge.
The system, called Tag and Track, made by the U.K.-based Ipsotek,
adds a layer of intelligence to CCTV networks. The system tracks
everyone who enters the CCTV network, building a profile of every
If the computer spots suspicious behavior it flags up the suspect.
The system automatically searches its archive for any previously
recorded footage as well as automatically highlighting the suspect on
the operator’s display so that wherever they appear on the network they
will be identified and tracked, in real time.
Tag and Track uses video content analysis (VCA) and pattern
recognition technologies to trace continuously the path all people and
vehicles take throughout the surveillance network. It allows the
real-time identification of a suspect’s current location automatically
as he or she moves from camera to camera. It can track multiple suspects
Builds up a database of metadata about all of the objects it tracks
Furthermore, it helps tackle the problem of scouring hours of video
footage after an incident. Once the suspect is identified, it can scan
automatically produce all the footage of the suspect retroactively.
According to Boghos Boghossian, CTO of Ipsotek, the system cuts about
80% of the work in scanning old footage. It is currently in a trial
deployment in Kingston-upon-Thames, to the west of London.
Rather than scouring video footage, Tag and Track builds up a
database of metadata about all of the objects it tracks, such as color,
clothes worn, speed of travel etc, and stores that information. It is
then a question of matching the metadata of the suspect to stored
“It takes the time, place and speed of movement,” said Mr.
Boghossian, “and other data, and form that allows an operator to
At the moment Tag and Track flags up an individual to an operator for
confirmation of identity. Mr. Boghossian said in future it might be
possible to automate that, but that adding the operator confirmation
means that the false positives do not become an issue. “The operator is
the ultimate decision maker,” he said.
Something slightly “Big Brother”-ish about it
The system has a machine intelligence layer, so that, like an
operator, it gets to learn how people behave going through the CCTV
area. “It learns the relationship between cameras so it knows how long
typical people take to move from one camera to the next.”
It is smart enough also to be able to track multiple suspects
simultaneously. “Say a car pulls up and four people get out. It can
follow all four of them at the same time, recording their passage
throughout the network.”
Andrew Eggington, Finance Director, did admit that there was
something slightly “Big Brother”-ish about it. “However what we are able
to do is to pixilate out everyone else in an image when we present it
for evidence. It actually does more to protect the innocent.”
As well as a trial deployment in Kingston, Mr. Boghossian said that
it would shortly be installed in Dubai airport as well as with an
unnamed U.S. defense contractor which would be combined with facial
= = = = = = =
High-tech system to include speakers, video surveillance, emergency alerts
Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
UPDATE: Presumably in response to this article being linked on the Drudge Report,
the company behind ‘Intellistreets’, Illuminating Concepts, has now
pulled the video from You Tube entirely, presumably nervous about the
negative publicity that could be generated from concerns about street
lights being used for “Homeland Security” purposes – their words, not
ours. We have added an alternative version of the clip below, but it may
be subject to removal at any time. The video is still available on the company’s website.
RELATED: Promo Video For DHS-Backed ‘Spy Street Lights’ Pulled From You Tube
New street lights that include “Homeland Security” applications
including speaker systems, motion sensors and video surveillance are now
being rolled out with the aid of government funding.
The Intellistreets system comprises of a wireless digital
infrastructure that allows street lights to be controlled remotely by
means of a ubiquitous wi-fi link and a miniature computer housed inside
each street light, allowing for “security, energy management, data
harvesting and digital media,” according to the Illuminating Concepts website.
According to the company’s You Tube video of the concept, the primary
capabilities of the devices include “energy conservation, homeland
security, public safety, traffic control, advertising, video
In terms of Homeland Security applications, each of the light poles
contains a speaker system that can be used to broadcast emergency
alerts, as well as a display that transmits “security levels”
(presumably a similar system to the DHS’ much maligned color-coded
terror alert designation), in addition to showing instructions by way of
its LED video screen.
The lights also include proximity sensors that can record both
pedestrian and road traffic. The video display and speaker system will
also be used to transmit Minority Report-style advertising, as well as
Amber Alerts and other “civic announcements”.
With the aid of grant money from the federal government, the company
is about to launch the first concept installation of the system in the city of Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Using street lights as surveillance tools has already been advanced by several European countries. In 2007, leaked documents out of the UK Home Office
revealed that British authorities were working on proposals to fit lamp
posts with CCTV cameras that would X-ray scan passers-by and “undress
them” in order to “trap terror suspects”.
Dutch police also announced last year that they are developing a mobile scanner that will “see through people’s clothing and look for concealed weapons”.
So-called ‘talking surveillance cameras’ that use a speaker system
similar to the Intellistreets model are already being used in UK cities
like Middlesborough to bark orders and reprimand people for dropping
litter and other minor offenses. According to reports,
one of the most common phrases used to shame people into obeying
instructions is to broadcast the message, “We are watching you.”
The transformation of street lights into surveillance tools for
Homeland Security purposes will only serve to heighten concerns that the
United States is fast on the way to becoming a high-tech police state,
with TSA agents being empowered to oversee that control grid, most
recently with the announcement that TSA screeners would be manning highway checkpoints, a further indication that security measures we currently see in airports are rapidly spilling out onto the streets.
The ability of the government to use street lights to transmit “emergency alerts” also dovetails with the ongoing efforts to hijack radio and television broadcasts for the same purpose, via FEMA’s Emergency Alert System.
The federal government is keen to implement a centralized system of
control over all communications, with the recent announcement that all
new cell phones will be required to comply with the PLAN program (Personal Localized Alerting Network),
which will broadcast emergency alert messages directly to Americans’
cell phones using a special chip embedded in the receiver. The system
will be operational by the end of the year in New York and Washington,
with the rest of the country set to follow in 2012.
The notion of using the street lights as communication tools to
broadcast “alerts” directly from the federal government is also
consistent with Homeland Security’s program to install Orwellian ‘telescreens’ that play messages by Janet Napolitano and other DHS officials in Wal-Mart stores across the country.
The fact that the federal government is funding the implementation
of ‘Intellistreets’ comes as no surprise given that the nation’s
expanding networks of surveillance cameras are also being paid for with Department of Homeland Security grants.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.
Trust the police with your stored data?
For the first time, Big Brother Watch has uncovered the
true extent to which Police abuse their access to confidential
This report follows allegations yesterday that former
Downing Street Head of Communications Andy Coulson paid the Police in
order to receive privileged information.
Between 2007 and 2010:
- 243 Police officers and staff received criminal convictions for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA).
- 98 Police officers and staff had their employment terminated for breaching the DPA.
- 904 Police officers and staff were subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the DPA.
A full breakdown of results by local police authority can be found here.
Commenting on the research findings Daniel Hamilton, Director of Big Brother Watch said:
“The allegations surrounding Andy Coulson are just the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s astonishing to think that 904
Police officers and support staff across England have faced
disciplinary action for abusing their access to confidential systems.
243 have received criminal convictions for their actions, while 98 have
lost their jobs.
“Our investigation shows that not
only have Police employees been found to have run background records
checks on friends and possible partners, but some have been convicted
for passing sensitive information to criminal gangs and drug dealers.
This is at best hugely intrusive and, at worse, downright dangerous.
“Police forces must adopt a zero
tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour. Those found guilty of
abusing their position should be sacked on the spot.”
- In Merseyside alone, 208 officers and Police staff received criminal convictions for breaching the DPA since 2007.
- The areas with the largest number of officers and Police staff who
had their employment terminated for DPA breaches since 2007 were: Kent
(10), Merseyside (7), West Midlands (7), Northumbria (6), Derbyshire
(5) and Humberside (5).
- The areas with the largest number of officers and Police staff
subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for DPA breaches since
2007 were: Merseyside (208), West Midlands (83), Humberside (62), South
Yorkshire (42), and Northumbria (39).
Big Brother Watch has teamed up with other civil liberties groups to
challenge the right of the police in Royston, Hertfordshire to install a
so-called ring of steel made-up of Automatic Number Plate Recognition
(ANPR) Cameras. We have submitted a complaint, available to view here, to the Information Commissioner, explaining that we view it to be not just an invasion of privacy but also illegal.
We hope that with mainstream media such as the Guardian
now picking up this campaign, we can put real pressure on the
government to have a full and frank public debate about the use of CCTV
cameras in Britain, especially these ANPR cameras which monitor the
movement of millions of vehicles everyday while accumulating a database
of journeys which can be stored for years without consent.
We have campaigned for months
on this project now, ever since rumours of its existence first
appeared. There is no justification for a system such as this in a small
town like Royston
with a population under 15,000 people. There is no history of organised
crime or serious drug distribution in the area, and no public
consultation was carried out prior to the installation of the cameras.
The recent dismantling of ‘Project Champion’ in Birmingham proves that with enough publicity and public anger, intrusive projects such as this can be scraped.
There are now more than 4,200 ANPR cameras yet the public still
remain relatively unaware of their existence. Big Brother Watch, No CCTV and Privacy International hope this complaint will open up a debate about their use and justification.
Police are reluctant
to reveal locations of automatic numberplate recognition cameras, but
their secretive approach is not working
Britain has an abundance of surveillance cameras, perhaps 1.85m in total.
Data on the owners and locations of these cameras is generally publicly
available; speed camera sites are embedded in satnav systems, for
example. Also, the Data Protection Act entitles you to obtain images of
yourself on camera. These two are tied together by necessity: it is
tricky to exercise your data protection rights if you don't know which
organisation has the images and you can't say on which camera you were
caught. These seem pretty sensible safeguards, given the levels of
However, the police appear to not agree. Police
forces believe their network of 4,000-plus automatic numberplate
recognition (ANPR) cameras – which in England and Wales are used to
store the details and pictures of every vehicle passing a camera, with
some data kept for two years – is exempt from these reasonable measures.
By overturning a decision by the information commissioner, the
first-tier tribunal for information rights has recently decided otherwise
– though the decision, which applied specifically to Devon and Cornwall
Constabulary, has since been appealed against by that force.
all follows from the police's refusal to provide me with the locations
of its fixed ANPR cameras when I made a freedom of information request
in July 2009, despite their use in Torquay, Brixham and Dawlish having
been featured on ITV1's Crimefighters and on their own website.
from the location issue, the police have damaged the trust placed in
them over ANPR. Officers were accused of misleading councilors in
Birmingham when trying to install cameras in Muslim neighbourhoods, as
part of the now-abandoned Project Champion, and ANPR has repeatedly been used to stop people who have committed no crime but whose numberplates have been spotted at protests.
announcing its appeal against the tribunal's decision, Devon and
Cornwall said that one of its cameras in Plymouth had recently helped catch a drug dealer.
But it did so because the system said his car was not insured. While
there is an argument that major criminals break minor laws too, it also
suggests that drug dealers can improve their chances of avoiding arrest
by insuring their cars.
Nevertheless, the police say that
releasing the locations would reduce the usefulness of their fixed ANPR
cameras. But their usefulness already seems to be declining. The number
of vehicles of interest spotted by Devon and Cornwall's cameras fell
from 1.24m in 2008 to 255,000 last year, 0.3% of the vehicles passing.
The constabulary says the fall is down to changes in the watchlists
used, but with just 45 cameras connected to the national database, perhaps some people "of interest" are simply driving around them.
true that the locations are officially secret. But cameras of a similar
design and configuration to the ANPR ones used to police London's
congestion charge (the output of which is also fed into the police's
database) have been popping up around the UK's roads over the last few
years. If they are indeed part of the secret police camera network, they
aren't exactly well disguised – and outside cities, they appear to be
not so much a network as a set of easily avoidable dots.
cities, there is a case for unavoidable, publicised, circles of ANPR:
City of London police used to discuss its "ring of steel" cameras with pride.
across most of the country, temporary sites would seem to be a better
bet, as there would not be much time to spot them before they moved. In
every case, ANPR locations should be published, perhaps after use for
mobile units. That would allow currently denied data access rights and
informed public discussion of a privacy-invasive form of policing – and
might produce better results for the police.
May 10th 2011
David Davis has alleged that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police
may have broken the law while using security camera images. The claim
was made during Home Office questions in the House of Commons.
He described an event around 12 months ago when he was tipped off
that the Whitehall department along with the Met had misused CCTV and
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras in an illegal manner.
The Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden said:
“A year ago I was approached by a
whistleblower with an allegation there had been criminal misuse of CCTV
and ANPR information by the Home Office and a part of the Metropolitan
"I established that the individual
knew the insides of the organisations concerned an ongoing operation,
that he had no obvious reason for malice or deceit, and I sent the
information to the Home Secretary."
However, Mr. Davis claimed he never received a response when he
delivered the allegations to Home Secretary Theresa May. Mrs. May
assured him that she would investigate the allegations thoroughly, she
“I will go back and ensure this matter is brought to my attention.”
We await the results of this investigation with interest, as the
allegations, if part of a wider pattern of misuse, could create a
scandal on a massive scale.
May 9th 2011
Controversial surveillance cameras set up in two predominantly Muslim
neighbourhoods will start to be removed today, police said.
The 218 cameras, some of which were hidden, sparked anger from civil liberties
campaigners and residents in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in Birmingham,
where they were mainly erected.
The number plate recognition and CCTV cameras were financed under a
counter-terrorism initiative but were initially marketed to locals as a
general crime-prevention measure.
At a meeting of the West Midlands Police Authority in October, Chief Constable
Chris Sims said the cameras should be pulled down in a bid to regain the
trust of residents.
The recommendation followed an independent report's criticism of the scheme,
dubbed Project Champion.
West Midlands Police said work to take down the cameras and equipment is
starting today, and all cameras will be removed this month.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said: "The work starting today
shows that we have listened to what our communities wanted and acted upon
"We have liaised closely with our communities to keep them informed of
developments and when they can expect cameras to be removed from actual
"I would like to stress that the cameras have never been operational.
"We accept that mistakes were made and we are keen to learn the lessons
that emerged from the review into Project Champion. The removal of the
cameras is part of that learning process.
"Our neighbourhood teams will now focus on forging closer links with
local communities across the affected areas."
Ayoub Khan, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet member for local services and
community safety, said he was pleased that the recommendations of the review
into the handling of Project Champion and the voice of the community had
"I am now keen to move on and to work closely with the police and all
communities across the city for a joint effort in the fight against crime
and keeping our streets safe," he said.
Police said the final decision over the future use of the removed cameras will
be made by the police authority, but no decision has yet been made.
Speaking in October, Mr Sims said the "support and the confidence of
local communities in West Midlands Police" was the most important thing
for the force in the fight against crime and terrorism.
"We can fight crime and the threat posed by terrorism far more
effectively by working hand in hand with local people, rather than
alienating them through a technological solution which does not have broad
community support," he told West Midlands Police Authority.
The previous month an independent report by Thames Valley Police criticised
the scheme for a lack of transparency and insufficient consultation.
Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, said today: "While we are
delighted these cameras are being removed, this expensive and oppressive
waste of time should never have been given the go-ahead.
"Vital civil liberties and any basic concept of privacy were both disregarded
by this scheme.
"These cameras were totally unnecessary for anti-terror or anti-crime purposes
and only served to alienate Muslim residents.
"Public trust in the police has been significantly undermined and will take
years to rebuild."
April 16th, 2011
Those interested in information law in the context of policing will wish to note the very recent Tribunal decision in Mathieson v IC and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary (EA/2010/0174)
Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are strategic
policing tools used by a number of forces. Mr Mathieson asked Devon and
Cornwall Constabulary to provide him with the locations of its ANPR
cameras. It refused, relying on the prejudice-based qualified exemptions
at s. 31(1)(a) (prevention or detection of crime) and s. 31(1)(b)
(apprehension or prosecution of offenders). The Commissioner considered
that the public interest arguments – though finely balanced – favoured
the maintenance of these exemptions.
The Tribunal agreed that these exemptions were engaged, but disagreed
on the public interest, and ordered disclosure. It considered that the
Commissioner had overlooked a number of relevant factors.
First, this is a privacy issue: ANPR cameras capture vast amounts of
personal data; there is therefore substantial public interest in
scrutiny of their use (further illustrated by parliamentary questions on
the subject). Secondly, location data alone would not undermine
policing – information on factors such as policing tactics, data and
analytical capabilities were equally necessary.
Furthermore, the Constabulary had put forward weak arguments: the Tribunal was unimpressed by its attempt to rely on reports by other
police forces on their use of ANPR cameras, and by its focus on issues
such as the potential for vandalism – which is not sufficiently
connected to the interests protected by ss. 31(1)(a) and (b).
Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear?
The idea that an individual can live in a surveillance society with nothing to fear so long as they have nothing to hide may, on the face of it, appear attractive. For those of us who think of ourselves as 'honest' - we pay our taxes, don't commit murders and are loyal to our partners - why indeed should we fear surveillance?