A happy new year from all at Big Brother Watch and we hope that you all had an enjoyable Christmas. As you may have seen, Big Brother Watch was very busy over the festive period, releasing our second major report and being featured regularly throughout the media. We intend to begin 2010 in exactly the same way we finished 2009 – with regular blogposts on the major stories in liberty and privacy each day on our website; with more research projects planned, exposing the worst excesses of our big brother state; and, most importantly of all, more stories from our supporters that give us the opportunity to take the fight directly to those in power and abusing their positions.
We’d like to give our sincere thanks to all those who were generous enough to donate to Big Brother Watch over the Christmas period – your kindness massively helps our research and media efforts and we really appreciate it. If you want to donate, or just get in touch, all the details are available on our website http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/.
An Estimated 20,000 Council Officers in Britain Are Able to Enter Private Property Without a Warrant
On Monday 28th December 2009, Big Brother Watch released our second major piece of research, Barging In, revealing that there are at least 14,793 officers in 73 per cent of local councils in Britain who can enter private property without requiring a warrant or police escort.
Through Freedom of Information requests sent to every single local council in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Big Brother Watch arrived at a total figure for the number of environmental health technicians, anti-social behaviour officers, safety control inspectors and so on who, on 15th June 2009, if they so wished, could enter your private residence or place of work.
Top lines from the research (the full report including breakdown by local authority available here) include:
- There are at least 14,793 officers in local councils nationwide who can enter private property without requiring a warrant or police officer escort
- That is equal to 47 officers in every local authority in Britain able to enter homes and workplaces
- Given that 115 (27 per cent) local councils either refused to answer our FOI requests, or failed to answer in an acceptable manner, this figure could be much higher and indeed be as high as 20,000 council officers in Britain
- Northamptonshire County Council and Glasgow City Council have the most officers able to enter your home with almost 500 each
Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said:
“Once, a man’s home was his castle. Today the Big Brother state wants to inspect, regulate and standardise the inside of our homes. Councils are dishing out powers of entry to officers within their council for their own ease, without giving due thought to the public’s right to privacy and the potential for abuse. There needs to be a much closer eye kept on the number of officers granted the right to barge into private premises without a warrant.”
Barging In generated some excellent media coverage in both the local and national news, and re-opened the debate on how much power we are comfortable with our local councils holding. As with Big Brother Is Watching - our report into the growth of CCTV cameras in local authorities – we intend to conduct a yearly audit of councils and their uses of powers of entry. The full report, with full regional breakdown, is available to view by clicking here, so why not see how your own council fares?
Help us reinstate Albert
Yesterday on our website, we covered the story of Albert Stewart - the binman taken off his round of 34 years because he started picking up the rubbish residents had left beside their wheelie bins.
As we said in our piece, this is a sad indictment of Britain in 2010: A man who has committed no real offence, used his commonsense, done a little favour for families, and has actually helped foster a nicer environment in his area, is punished because the council has enforced pointless, pathetic rules designed to hit the law-abiding citizen in the pocket.
We need your help to get Albert reinstated on his old route. If you, like us, are appalled by West Lancashire Council’s actions, we urge you to send an angry email with your support for Albert to Pat Burgess, the council Refuse and Recycling Manager: [email protected]. Or if you would prefer to call and register your complaint, the number is: 01695 577177 ext.5432.
Top blogs since the last newsletter
Crimes caught on CCTV fall by 70 per cent - six months after admitting that one crime is solved for every thousand CCTV cameras, and less than a month after Big Brother Watch releases a report questioning the effectiveness of CCTV, the Metropolitan Police announce that the proportion of all crimes solved using CCTV in London has fallen from half in 2003/4 to one in seven in 2008/9 – the pressure mounts…
Want your children to have school dinners? Surrender their fingerprints - Andrea Leadsom, Tory PPC for South Northamptonshire, writes about her dismay at finding out that schools are trying to gather pupil’s fingerprints as a replacement for Library cards and lunch money
Drogba, Robinho, Tevez and others find themselves carded - a bad day on the pitch for non-EU footballers, and off the pitch for the rest of us, as the ID card scheme takes another step towards implementation
A selection of our media coverage
Daily Telegraph – Number of crimes caught on CCTV falls by 70 per cent, Metropolitan Police admits
Evening Standard – Huge drop in crimes solved by costly CCTV
Alexander Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “It’s right to say that the experiment with CCTV has failed. They can’t have it both ways. Either the figures reflect a fall or they were wrong in the first place. Crimes that might have been solved by conventional methods go unsolved as a result.”
Daily Mail – The 20,000 snooper army: Vast number of town hall bureaucrats get power to enter your home without a warrant
Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, which carried out the research, said: ‘Once, a man’s home was his castle. Today, the Big Brother state wants to inspect, regulate and standardise the inside of our homes.
‘Councils are dishing out powers of entry to officers for their own ease, without giving due thought to the public’s right to privacy and the potential for abuse. There needs to be a much closer eye kept on the number of officers granted the right to barge into private premises without a warrant.’
Daily Telegraph - 20,000 council workers can enter homes without a warrant
The Sun – The Snoop Troop
Daily Express – 20,000 state snoopers who can walk into your homes
Daily Express – Debate: Has Britain become a Big Brother State?
South London Press – Wandsworth tops table of most CCTV cameras
Ipswich Evening Star – Councils ‘selling names and addresses’
Daily Telegraph – Police officers ‘prefer warmth of police station to catching criminals’
Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties campaign group, said: “There is a culture of laziness among many of today’s police. There is a common belief that police would rather chase targets than criminals.”
The Portsmouth News – You’re being watched…but do we really need 1,400 cameras?
Eastern Daily Press – We’re not a Big Brother state – claim
Southern Daily Echo – Southampton council accused over CCTV count
Lincolnshire Echo – Pressure group says CCTV violates rights
A full list of our media coverage for this month is available in our media archive here.