• Media Enquiries

    07505 448925(24hr)

Time for surveillance transparency


Today the three heads of Britain's intelligence agencies appear infront of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in a televised hearing, the first time for such a hearing to be broadcast. Progress, yes, but let's not get ahead of ourselves - the head of the CIA first appeared on TV speaking to congress in 1975, so it's hardly a revolution in oversight. Today we have published new polling by

GCHQ faces legal action over mass surveillance


Today Big Brother Watch, working with the Open Rights Group, English PEN and German internet activist Constanze Kurz, has announced legal papers have been filed alleging that GCHQ has illegally intruded on the privacy of millions of British and European citizens. We allege that by collecting vast amounts of data leaving or entering the UK, including the content of emails and social media messages, the UK’s spy

Patients win choice of sharing medical records


Earlier this year, we led the concern that a new NHS data sharing plan would see every patient's medical records uploaded to a new information system without the right to opt-out. We warned at the time that patient records would be out of patient control. On Friday, the Secretary of State confirmed that this will not be the case. We have worked closely with MedConfidential and Privacy International to ensure

Boom in private investigators risks avoiding surveillance regulation


Our latest report highlights the growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, particularly the number of times they are used without RIPA authorisation. The law in the UK, particularly the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, is broadly drawn to allow evidence to be introduced in court that in other jurisdictions would not be deemed admissible. Contrasted with the fruit of the poisonous

TalkTalk CEO sticks two fingers up at Mandy

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Mastering the Internet | 3 Comments

It was reported yesterday that Charles Dunstone, Chief Executive of Carphone Warehouse, said if the Digital Economy Bill is enacted he would be prepared to fight the Government in court.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said:

he refused to send his customers who were suspected file-sharers warning letters about their supposed activity or disconnect them, even if these clauses of the bill became law.

He explained that he may choose instead to fight the Government in court, if his lobbying fails and that his company would “consider all its options” should these clauses in the Digital Economy Bill go through.

Dunstone360 Why the fuss? The Digital Economy bill is now close to the committee stage at the House of Lords, and aims to implement a government report called Digital Britain. Mr Dunstone also heads the ISP, TalkTalk – and under the Bill, all ISP’s will have a legal obligation to firstly warn those suspected of illegal filesharing – and if it persists, to disconnect them.

TalkTalk have launched a petition against the Bill called ‘DontDisconnectUs’ which now has nearly 32,000 signatures and has drawn praise from several quarters, not least from Stephen Fry. It must be said, Mr Dunstone’s stance is as bold as it is morally praiseworthy. Is it sustainable though? What are other ISP’s going to do?

In an earlier interview with the Daily Telegraph, Dunstone claimed that:

“we don't support copyright infringement in any way but we live in the real world and understand that no amount of policing and censorship will solve the problem.

“It doesn't matter how many websites are blocked, how many services are shut down or how many individuals are pursued, people will always find ways to access copyrighted content for free.”

Moving away from Dunstonian heroism, but not from the Bill itself: Francis Davey – a Barrister specialising in computer and internet law - wrote a piece for the Open Rights Group, warning that the Bill goes much further than seeking to implement provisions relating to copyright infringement.

The bill gives enormous powers – exercisable with no Parliamentary oversight – to the Secretary of State to require the disconnection of individuals' internet access for any reason. Not only is there no requirement for such disconnections to relate to a number of "strikes" there is no need for disconnection to be linked to infringement of copyright.

In short, if the Bill goes through, it would appear to grant Lord Mandelson massive powers to control and meddle with the internet usage of UK residents. Digital Britain, it would seem, has its emperor.

By Edward Hockings

Met signal change of tack on Section 44

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Privacy | 5 Comments

Stopandsearch In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, John Yates, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has suggested that it is time the police used more common sense methods of finding potential terrorists, as opposed to the indiscriminate methods of stop and search employed under Section 44.

Mr Yates admitted that while “profiling” was an “ugly and clumsy” term that had been mired in controversy it had to be utilised "in an intelligent manner".

The police chief said that stop and search powers have sometimes been used in a misguided way. Not every person can be treated as a threat and officers had to be more specific about those targeted – using “common sense” and “street-craft” to recognise suspicious behaviour.

He agreed that an “elderly white woman dressed in middle-class garb” was unlikely to be a terrorist – but added that there was no single profile of a terrorist and officers “could not focus on skin colour or religion”.

It is encouraging to see that the Met Police are finally recognising that Section 44 has done little to make Britain safer, and a lot to harm the relationship between the people and the police.
 
The simple fact remains: there have been no successful terrorism convictions resulting from Section 44.

Indiscriminate stop and search doesn't work and is an unnecessary invasion of privacy. The European Court has ruled it unnecessary and it is time the British police came into line.

By Dylan Sharpe

Media Coverage – February 2010

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | Comments Off

For all media enquiries please call: 07538 28 00 41 (24 hrs)

Saturday 28th February

Corus radio network, Canada – Alex Deane interviewed by Roy Green


Friday 26th February

Security Solution Industry News – Electronic Monitoring On A Personal Level At Airports

In addition to the body scanners, the Government are also considering using passenger profiling as part of their new airport safety measures. While the Human Rights Commission accept that the Government has a duty to protect air travellers they still require a detailed report on how profiling or scanners will help. The concern is that vulnerable people such as the disabled, young children and transgendered people will be negatively affected by these new measures.

It has also been pointed out by Dylan Sharpe, the campaign director of Big Brother Watch, that neither of these methods are foolproof. Unfortunately, when it comes to terrorism, these people are very determined and it would be close to impossible to find one single method that offered complete protection. All we can ask is that due diligence is always used but it is feared by safety groups that this will become second place to relying on machinery that could fail.


Thursday 25th February

BBC News – Terrorism arrests rising in UK

But Alex Deane, of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the figures showed that actual terrorism-related charges were rare and demonstrated the relatively-small objective threat they posed.

“This shows that we should not have allowed our whole way of life to be changed by intrusive technology like ID cards and body scanners on account of government-manufactured hysteria about terrorism,” he said.

Guardian – Henry Porter: Councils make unwarranted entry

“My view is that the central thing that we need to do is require a warrant for all entries into domestic premises,” said Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice minister at a Centre for Policy Studies and Big Brother Watch event in London this week.

Research by Big Brother Watch shows that there are over 1,000 different powers of entry and about 15,000 to 20,000 council officials have the right to go into a property without a warrant, something the police are not allowed to do.

Daily Mail - Number of people stopped and searched under anti-terror laws falls dramatically

Alex Deane of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch said:
“These
figures show that actual terrorism-related charges are rare,
demonstrating
the relatively small objective threat that these people pose.


“This shows that we should not have allowed our whole way of life to be
changed by intrusive technology like ID cards and body scanners on
account
of Government-manufactured hysteria about terrorism.”

Watford Observer – Watford man’s campaign to ban airport body scanners

A former Watford resident is spearheading a campaign to ban full body scanners from airports across Britain.

And their cause is backed by organisations such as Big Brother Watch, Privacy International and former The Corrs musician Jim Corr.

Our Kingdom – A Tory Repeal Act?

“It is my hope and intention to have a Repeal Act in the first year of a Conservative government. I have been arguing for it for some time. And I am quietly confident that I will be able to get it. Its going to cover a wide range of things”. Dominic Grieve speaking to Big Brother Watch yesterday.

Independent – Two
hundred terror arrests made last year

PlayPolitical – Dominic Grieve addresses Big Brother Watch about the the powers of entry now accrued by the state


Wednesday 24th February

ITV Anglia Tonight - Dylan Sharpe interviewed for evening news

Dearne 97.1 FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed on off-licence fingerprint scanner

Epoch Times – The New Eye
in the Sky

The grounding of the drones has
been welcomed by civil rights organisations who are still concerned
about the future. Dylan Sharpe, Campaign Director at Big Brother Watch
(BBW), wrote on the BBW website: “This is a very worrying development.
We are already watched by more CCTV cameras than any other country on
earth without the state surveillance network expanding into the skies
above us.

“What is of most concern is that the privacy aspect is
being completely ignored. The problem, it seems, is that the CAA thinks
UAVs are dangerous because they have no pilot; yet no one is asking
whether these drones are actually necessary or a dangerously intrusive
next-step on the road to a surveillance state?”

Saturday 20th February

The Scotsman – Group slams ‘big brother’ state

A CAMPAIGN group set up to oppose the “big brother” state has accused the city council of “disgraceful fearmongering”.

The Evening News revealed earlier this week that around 100 frontline council workers, including support workers, are being sent on anti-terrorist activity and being asked to report anything they find that is suspicious.

Dylan Sharpe, director of Big Brother Watch, a new campaign by The Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This is disgraceful fearmongering that erodes trust in society and encourages spying, snooping and suspicion.

“Perhaps most shocking of all is Edinburgh Council’s decision to start the course with support workers.

“So, Edinburgh’s hard-pressed social workers will now be searching for anything that looks vaguely ‘terrorist’.

 

Friday 19th February

BBC Radio Derby – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Shane O’Connor

East Coast FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Graeme Logan

Daily Echo – Neighbours to turn each other in for bin fines in Southampton

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The powers being granted to the Bin Stasi should be opposed by the people of Southampton.

“Bureaucrats everywhere are using the environment as an excuse to intrude on our lives and increase council revenue and it shouldn’t be allowed – especially when disproportionately applied to trivial and absurd ‘offences’ like leaving one’s bin in the wrong place.”

 

Thursday 18th February

Tameside Reporter – Good ‘ID’ea or not?

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: “It was foolish to push forward with the scheme in the face of widsespread public opposition against ID cards.

“As a result there are only a few people who have them – and nobody even recognises what they are. We have managed to live our lives for centuries without ID cards – the suggestion that there is any pressing need for them now is absurd.”

Times Online – Businesses are behind the big increase in human rights cases

 

Tuesday 16th February

Daily Mail – Police ground unmanned drone after aviation chiefs claim £40,000 gadget was used illegally to make landmark arrest

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This intervention by the CAA is welcome and timely.

‘People already feel that there is excessive surveillance in the UK without the police flying around CCTV cameras to catch us littering or parking in the wrong place.

‘Privacy problems, excessive cost, or unauthorised use of airspace – Britain would be better off with fewer surveillance cameras.’

Real Radio – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Glen Hunt

Blackpool Gazette – Police use helicopter drone without permission


Monday 15th February

The Times – Number of court cases involving Human Rights Act rises by a third

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Human rights are vital, but the Human Rights Act is often used to achieve frivolous and greedy ends, for purposes nothing to do with proper human rights.

“The abuse of the Act is a tragedy that undermines the whole idea of human rights in the eyes of the public.”

 

Sunday 14th February

Corus radio network, Canada – Alex Deane interviewed by Roy Green

 

Friday 12th February

Independent – Alex Deane: Demolish the myth that safety, in and of itself, is an absolute good

In arguing against airport body scanners, I’ve been met with variations on an increasingly prevalent fallacy: “if it makes us a little safer, it’s worth it”; “if it saves one life, stops one crime…” What a specious argument that is.

BBC London Radio – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Eddie Nestor

Daily Telegraph – The Conservatives are totally losing the plot if they adopt Binyam Mohamed as a cause celebre

If I understand correctly Alex Deane’s high-minded rant about the rights of innocent people receiving a fair trial (which, just to put the record straight, I fully support), he is prepared to accept at face value former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed’s claim that he was brutally tortured during his interrogation with the full complicity of British security officials.

The Guardian – Henry Porter: The Telegraph’s toxic attack

His shocking little squib has attracted the notice of Alex Deane on ConservativeHome who says Coughlin produced “the most crass and unpleasant piece of demagoguery hosted by the modern broadsheet press”. Deane, a lawyer, points out to Coughlin, a great champion of the special relationship and one of the intelligent service’s useful idiots: “The judgment concluded that Binyam Mohamed had been subjected to ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities’ – that is to say, a British citizen was tortured, by our allies.

The Wall Street Journal – Iain Martin: Binyam Mohamed Case: Is Sleep Deprivation Really Torture?

A great online row has taken place between my good friend Con Coughlin and libertarian blogger Alex Deane. Con is more than capable of sticking up for himself, but one observation occurs. Sleep deprivation features large when reading the detail of what is said to have been done to suspects, including Mr. Mohamed (a U.K. resident freed from detention in Guantanamo Bay as an innocent man who has never been charged with any crime).

Thursday 11th February

Press TV: Epilogue - Alex Deane reviews ‘The Assault on Liberty’ with Ken Livingstone and Rodney Austin 

Elements – No scan, no flight

However, many are concerned about privacy, including Big Brother Watch (BBW) – a campaigning group which aims to protect civil liberties and personal freedoms. Director of BBW Alex Deane said: “what kind of a free society does the government think it is ‘protecting’, when it invades our privacy like this?”.

Wednesday 10th February

BBC South Today – Alex Deane interviewed by Steve Humphrey

ConservativeHome – The Telegraph’s Con Coughlin is a disgrace

The Court of Appeal today held today that details of what our own security services knew about a foreign power torturing a British citizen should not be kept secret, a decision Big Brother Watch welcomes.

The Spectator – Will British judges be “responsible” for the next terrorist attack?

Con Coughlin has an awful piece up at the Telegraph arguing that, in the light of today’s decision in the case of Binyam Mohamed, “if another al-Qaeda bomb goes off in London, the judges will be as much to blame as Osama bin Laden.” Seriously. That’s what he wrote. It’s as preposterous as it is repellent. Happily, over at Conservative Home, Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch does an excellent job dismantling this and the rest of Coughlin’s diatribe.

Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Graeme Logan 

Tuesday 9th February

BBC Look North – Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy

BBC News – Bridlington off-licence fingerprints customers

However, Alex Deane from human rights organisation Big Brother Watch, urged caution.

“First of all you want people not being malicious in the way they want to use personal information,” he said.

“There will always be ways you can misuse personal data.

“You can always change your pin number and your password; your fingerprints are, of course, with you for life.”

BBC Radio Humberside – Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy

 

Saturday 6th February

PlayPolitical – Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch voices his opposition to full body scanners at airports in a BBC Breakfast interview

 

Friday 5th February

Ilford Recorder – Smart! Spy car that can break the law

Dylan Sharpe, from anti-CCTV campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “People in Woodford Green are right to be angry. These CCTV cars are designed for one purpose: Accumulating money for the council. It’s bad enough that they drive around actively seeking people to fine, now they’re breaking their own rules.”

ICTV (Ukraine) – Alex Deane interviewed on body scanners

 

Thursday 4th February

Luton Today – Big brother info is a little sister

The Big Brother Watch campaigners believe that having too many council-run CCTV cameras is an infringement of privacy and human liberty.

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, which is a campaign by the founders of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Local councils across Britain are creating enormous networks of CCTV surveillance at great expense, but the evidence for the ability of CCTV to deter or solve crimes is sketchy at best.”

The group claims that the number of council-controlled CCTV cameras across the country has trebled in the last decade

 

Wednesday 3rd February

Daily Express – Race row over taxi drivers flying the flag

Alex Deane of campaign group Big Brother Watch said: “Southampton Council should leave these taxi drivers alone. Do they not have more important things to be dealing with than enforcing pointless rules and petty complaints?

“If a driver put up a sign saying they spoke Urdu, French or German, this decision would never have been made.”

Daily Mail – Passengers laid bare as full body scanners are introduced at Heathrow and Manchester airports

But Alex Deane, a barrister and director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said such measures meant ‘the terrorists have won’.

‘People are understandably afraid of terrorism,’ he said. ‘But we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life, and we shouldn’t change now either.

‘Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight.

BBC Radio Humberside – Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy

The Guardian – We don’t need secret surveillance cameras

The Herald Scotland – Transport Secretary defends use of full-body scanners at airports

Letters from a Tory – Quote of the day

“The terrorists have won.”

- Alex Deane, barrister and director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, responding to the news that passengers using Heathrow and Manchester airports have been told that they will no longer be allowed to board their flights if they refuse to submit to full-body scans.

 

Tuesday 2nd February

The Times – Compulsory full-body scans launched at Heathrow

Alex Deane, a barrister and director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said such measures meant “the terrorists have won”.

“People are understandably afraid of terrorism,” he said. “But we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life, and we shouldn’t change now either.

Daily Telegraph – Airport body scan images ‘destroyed immediately’ says Lord Adonis

But Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

“Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight.

“What kind of a free society does the Government think it is ‘protecting’, when it invades our privacy like this?

20minutos.es – El aeropuerto de Manchester y uno de Londres empiezan a usar el escáner corporal

Por su parte, el director de la campaña Big Brother Watch, Alex Deane, dijo que con esta decisión “se cede al chantaje terrorista” porque “no se puede dar a elegir a los pasajeros entre su dignidad y perder un vuelo”.

Manchester Evening News – Passengers back airport scanners

But human rights campaigners argue that the technology, which shows up false limbs and breast implants, creates ‘indecent’ images and could compromise passengers’ privacy.

Alex Deane, director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “People are understandably afraid of terrorism. But we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life and we shouldn’t change now either.

Evening Standard – Lord Adonis: Airport body scan images destroyed immediately

Grazia – Does my bum look big in this body scan?

Press and Journal – Refusing full-body scan will lead to flight ban

South Wales Evening Post – Flight ban for passengers who refuse body scan

V3.co.uk – Airport body scans to be compulsory

The Institution of Engineering and Technology – Bodyscanners now in use at UK airports

ChannelWeb.co.uk – Airport body scans to be compulsory

Yes, But, However – Heathrow and Manchester Airports Requiring Full Body Scan

 

Monday 1st February

BBC Breakfast – Alex Deane interviewed by Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams

Daily Mail – Air passengers who refuse a full body scan to be barred from their flights

But Alex Deane, a barrister and director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said such measures meant “the terrorists have won”.

“People are understandably afraid of terrorism,” he said. “But we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life, and we shouldn’t change now either.

“Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight. What kind of a free society does the Government think it is ‘protecting’, when it invades our privacy like this?”

Birmingham Post – Body scanners to be installed at Birmingham airport

Alex Deane, a barrister and director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said use of the scanner meant “the terrorists have won”.

He added: “Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight.”

BBC News – ‘No scan, no flight’ at Heathrow and Manchester

Daily Record – Air passengers to be banned from getting on flight if they refuse full body scan

Yorkshire Post – Flight ban for passengers who refuse body scan

Asian Leader - Flight ban for passengers who refuse body scan

WATCH: BBC Breakfast, Monday 7.15AM – Alex Deane debates full body scanners.

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Body Scanners, Media coverage | 6 Comments

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, will be appearing tomorrow (Monday) on the BBC Breakfast Show (available on BBC One and the BBC News Channel) debating the government's decision to roll-out full-body scanners to all UK airports.

Putting forward the official line will be Transport Secretary, Lord Andrew Adonis.

Tune in at 7.15am to watch the full report.

AlexVAndrew 

Body Scanners – update

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Body Scanners | 8 Comments

I've written previously about the Austrian professor who smuggled explosives and detonators through a body scanner on German TV – here's the footage (in German, obviously) – our hero goes into the machine at 0:44 and he sets off the stuff he smuggled through at 7:25:

I'll be debating the issue on BBC Breakfast News at 0715 on Monday.

By Alex Deane

A little tip for drivers

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Legal Action | 4 Comments

Form If (as happens to many people) you are sent a parking fine more than six months after the date of the alleged infraction, it is unlawful. Don't pay it.

By Alex Deane

Hat tip: a kindly former colleague in the law

Party round the CCTV pole in Ilford

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCTV | 2 Comments

From the Yellow Advertiser:

People in Francis Avenue, Ilford, are celebrating the news that they have got CCTV cameras on their street.

Francis Avenue CCTV Party 

Unconfirmed reports say that the celebrations lasted long into the night…

Alex Deane: How the march of officialdom is destroying cherished ways of life

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Media coverage | 12 Comments

Alex Pic A man in Ayr is facing a criminal trial after he was "caught" blowing his nose behind the wheel of his car.

Michael Mancini was given a £60 fixed penalty notice after a policeman decided he was "not in control of his vehicle" when he wiped his nose with a tissue. Mancini maintains that he was in stationary traffic and had put his handbrake on. He refused to pay the fine, and will now face a trial later this year.

This isn't a one-off, by any means (indeed, the policeman who gave Mancini his ticket was PC Stuart Gray – who recently issued a £50 fixed penalty to a man who accidentally dropped a £10 note in the street). It's symptomatic of life in this country today, which is fast becoming so illiberal that it's almost as if normal life is unlawful. From councils conducting covert surveillance of residents to check their catchment area to bureaucrats fining families for the contents of their bins, this culture of overbearing bossiness is changing our national life, with a "chilling effect" on social interaction – it's destroying traditional, harmless activities, and driving down outgoing natures, volunteerism, clubbable spirit – things we ought to cherish.

You may remember that in November, a young woman in Sandwell named Vanessa Kelly was stopped by a warden and given a £75 fixed penalty notice for throwing bread to the ducks in her local park. The fine was for "littering".

She refused to pay, she told her local press. Big Brother Watch leant a hand lining up media appearances, and – like most bullies when confronted – the council backed down. Not because they admitted they were in the wrong –but because they didn't want the fight.

I draw from this a lesson that you probably appreciate already – media criticism is all our masters care about. Well, I accept their terms. Using those tools, we can and must turn that fear around – so that in a few years' time, when the jobsworth is on the verge of handing out that illiberal fine, he feels the chilling effect himself.

Donning the uniform of office doesn't – or shouldn't – entail unlimited power to exact petty bureaucracy. It ought to come with discretion, with common sense. Failing that, let's try to bully them back.

By Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch

Reproduced from today's Independent

BBC radio presenter sacked for criticising council fine…on facebook

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | 8 Comments

I understand that the BBC has to be impartial, but this story is taking it far too far:

Gareth_evans Gareth Evans was sacked after allegedly threatening to criticise his local council on air over a minor parking ticket row involving his heavily pregnant wife.

Evans, 39, a popular DJ at BBC Radio Sheffield, detailed the dispute on Facebook, revealing how his wife Joanna was given a £25 ticket for parking badly in an 'empty' town centre car park during a shopping trip.

When parking her Land Rover, she slightly straddled another bay to ensure she had sufficient room to get out. She returned later to find a fixed penalty notice on her windscreen.

Mr Evans wrote on Facebook about his family's 'war' with the council and their failed attempt to have the fine overturned.

But a senior official at Bassetlaw Council in Nottinghamshire was so concerned about comments that he wrote to BBC management.

It is hard to know who has acted more irresponsibly in this case: Bassetlaw Council for issuing a ridiculous fine to a pregnant woman, or the BBC in Sheffield for sacking someone for such a minor and inoffensive comment.

What is certain, is that the person who has been made to suffer most – Gareth Evans – doesn’t deserve this treatment whatsoever.

It makes for a telling picture of Britain today: a council desperate to rake in money by fining people who are not breaking any law, and a state broadcaster too scared to defend its own staff.

By Dylan Sharpe

When the police come-a-calling

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | 8 Comments

It was announced today that Bexley police are to visit every home in the borough in an effort to reduce crime and raise awareness.

Police officer As reported over at the Evening Standard:

Safer Neighbourhood Teams are planning to visit every home in Bexley in a year. Officers will knock on doors and introduce themselves to residents to ask if they have problems with crime or anti-social behaviour.

Summing up this enterprise, Inspector Toby Noar said: “We want to give every resident the chance to speak directly to police on issues that concern them."

While at first glance I couldn’t help but feel that this was a bona fide attempt to restore a sense of community and order in our fragmented society – waking from my naive slumbers, an image came to mind of our Safer Neighbourhood Teams gracing one’s abode with biscuits, tea and a reassuring presence – then demanding a sample of their host's saliva! 

Before you accuse me of naked cynicism, there is, I believe, a sinister undercurrent to most government-related practices these days. In some cases, it’s just outright complacency; in others, an alarming lack of decency; and at times, it’s frankly unsettling.

One thing is certain, there is a definite pattern of proposals or practices which are introduced under the guise of an ‘apparently’ much needed piece of legislation, and before we know it, have transformed into something highly dubious and intrusive.  

As an example, one only need think of the response of Anton Setchell, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism for Acpo, to questions about the collection of innocent people’s DNA:

"Just because you have no criminal record does not mean that you are not of interest to the police," he said. "Everyone who has got a criminal record did not have one once."

While Big Brother Watch fully endorses the efforts of Bexley's Safer Neighbourhood Teams to get to know the people they are protecting, we hope they aren't taking lessons from Mr Setchell.

By Edward Hockings