Missing the point on local council surveillance

Outrage at local councils using CCTV for relatively minor offences like dog fouling and littering is missing the point, with most critics, including Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti, arguing that against on the basis that it’s over the top.

Surely that is to play into the hands of those who claim ‘if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear’ as dog mess and litter do blight some areas and CCTV may well be cost effective. The real issue is mission creep; once a CCTV camera is installed, it can be used for much more than recording a dog taking an illicit dump.

3 thoughts on “Missing the point on local council surveillance

  1. Stephen
    I take this point, but are you suggesting that the British government might one day use such surveillance for politically repressive ends? I doubt very much whether British government has the competence to mount any credible Big Brother threat. And in what circumstances would you consider it arising?

  2. These fears can appear a little paranoid. However, the police do regularly photograph political activists and attempt to collect identities; for example, I refused to give my ID when asked on fox hunt sabs and had my photo taken by police on a vigil for victims of Saddam Hussein (as you know, Thatcher was once of his biggest fans). But it’s not just political matters. A few years ago a man was caught in the midst of a suicide attempt and the footage sold to a TV production company.

    It’s also easy to imagine CCTV being used to further harass teenagers who already face being reported to the police for ‘simply existing or walking down the street’.

  3. I actually think CCTV could help those teenagers who may currently feel harrassed by the police. I work in a police communications room and we do receive loads of calls from residents complaining about youths, but where often they are not obviously doing anything wrong, just “existing and walking” as you say.

    Despite what some may think I have no interest in deploying a police officer to waste his or her time checking out an innocent going about their daily business. If I can see what the youth is up to on CCTV and confirm my suspicions that they are minding their own business then I can leave them to enjoy their evening unmolested.

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