• 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

Smart Meters – coming to a boiler near you

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Databases, Privacy | 13 Comments

As reported by the BBC today, Energy Secretary Ed Miliband is set to announce the government's roll-out of Smart Meters in Parliament this afternoon.

Smart_meter For those unaware, the Smart Meter is a small device which provides users with a visual display allowing them to see exactly how much electricity and gas they are using and, importantly, then relays the data straight to your energy provider. It does this through the use of mobile phone technology and is several times more accurate than our current power meters.

While I can see some of the positives in using this technology, there also number of flaws in the proposal as it stands that are making us very nervous about this announcement.

The first is the estimated cost – £9bn (or £340 per household) for an annual average saving on your electricity bill of £28. This cost will not be handled solely by the government, so our tax money might be safe(ish). But if the £9bn is being borne by the energy companies, we all know it is going to be passed on to the consumer with much higher energy bills.

The second, and the problem more relevant to Big Brother Watch, is the complete vacuum in the plans where privacy and data is concerned.

To date the focus of the government and energy companies has been on making sure the customer cannot tamper with their Smart Meter. What there isn't is any guidance on how the information is being stored and who has access to it - but I suspect we’re looking at yet another database.

Then there is the issue of the government being able to access data which can actually tell a lot about your daily routine – the switching on and off of lights indicates when you leave the house etc.

The fear is that in a few years’ time the majority of households could find their homes harbouring a device which gives the state unfettered access to our energy habits and the accompanying ability to hold us to ransom for the amounts of electricity we consume.
Radio5logo I do not accept that in order to save our environment we have to sacrifice our right to privacy. At present the Smart Meter project looks poorly thought-through and potentially very dangerous.

I was on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday debating the merits and faults of Smart Meters with Business Correspondent, Nick Cosgrove and CEO of First:Utility, Mark Daeche. To listen to the discussion click the link below (approx 8 minutes long).

Dylan Sharpe on Radio 5 Live
By Dylan Sharpe

In the United States they have been having this debate for some time. I would urge those who are interested to read more about the privacy and intrusion fears over at Fausty's Blog.

Fairy light photographer has collar felt

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | Leave a comment

On Monday I wrote about Jeff Overs, the in-house BBC photographer who was stopped and searched for taking photos of St Paul's at dusk. I also complained that it was only rarely such cases got the high-profile media coverage afforded to Jeff by being Andrew Marr's snapper of choice.

Christmaslights Today, going some way to redress the balance, the Daily Telegraph has brought a similarly nonsensical case to light.

As they report:

Andrew White, 33, from Brighton, East Sussex, had been taking pictures of the festive lights in nearby Burgess Hill on his way to work when two Police Community Support Officers began following him.

The female PCSOs stopped him and asked why he had been taking photos of the lights and whether he was a professional photographer.

Mr White, who works for a financial services firm, was forced to submit personal details to the officers under counter-terrorism laws because officers were concerned he was taking too many photos in a busy area.

Of course, Sussex Police have trotted out the usual 'protecting public safety' excuses but as I said earlier this week, these cases are not isolated.

Maybe it is time that Officers and PCSOs were censured for showing such a complete lack of common sense?

By Dylan Sharpe  

- – UPDATE – -

Watch Alex Deane on BBC South Today discussing this incident here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctBv3jbXQOg

Fined for leaving the bin out

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

Manchester man A young man in Salford has been fined £550 for leaving his wheelie bin out.

Certainly, he ought to put his bin away.  Certainly, he left it out more than once.  But really, is this in any way proportionate or appropriate?  How on earth can the punishment be said to fit the "crime"?

The Council claims that this isn't just jobsworth bureaucratitis – they say that there is a serious purpose behind it.  You see, there has apparently been a number of fires started in bins in Manchester recently – in 2008, the fire brigade has been called out over 1,000 times to put out rubbish fires, many of which were in wheelie bins.

They can't stop kids lighting fires, so they prosecute the homeowner who suffers at their hands.  They fail to deal with the hard target, and instead of trying harder they pick the easy one instead. 

It's typical of today's overbearing, bullying bureaucratic environment – targeting people who don't break the law, because they can't stop those who do.

By Alex Deane

Nice to see the MSM catching up

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCTV | Leave a comment

The_Daily_Telegraph Here's the story we ran about Pangbourne's CCTV on the 10th of October.

Here's the Telegraph covering the story… yesterday.

By Alex Deane

Media Coverage – December 2009

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

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

Thursday 31st December

Clacton Gazette – Increasing use of CCTV criticised

Civil liberties campaigners have slammed the soaring number of Big Brother-style spy cameras.

Research carried out by Big Brother Watch claims the number of council-run CCTV cameras in Britain has trebled to almost 60,000 in the last decade.

Baltimore Sun - Baltimore, Britain and the eyes of the law

According to Big Brother Watch, a grass-roots anti-CCTV group that conducted an extensive review of the country’s local authorities…cameras have generated much debate about whether the cameras serve an important function or are a wasteful intrusion into citizens’ lives, with many studies concluding that they don’t provide enough bang for the buck.


Wednesday 30th December

Bromley Times – Warrant worries

A pressure group has warned that the privacy of homeowners could be at risk as they revealed that thousands of council officers have the power to enter private property without a warrant.

A report by Big Brother Watch, entitled Barging In, has revealed that at least 14,793 officers nationwide have powers to enter private property without a warrant or police escort. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed that Bromley council has the most officers in the area with these powers at 89.

Ipswich Evening Star – Officials given powers to enter homes

Bexley Times – ‘Your home is no longer your castle’

Lincolnshire Echo – Who can enter your home without a warrant?


Tuesday 29th December

Daily Echo – Councillors have powers to enter residents’ homes without a warrant

Seventy-five Town Hall “snoopers” have assumed powers to enter people’s homes in Poole without a warrant and search for information. And in neighbouring Bournemouth 54 council officers hold power of entry under a raft of intrusive laws allowing them into homes uninvited.

Using Freedom of Information laws, the new privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch asked councils to reveal the number of staff they have authorised to conduct property searches.

Northampton Chronicle and Echo – Council tops ‘snoop troop’ table

Waltham Forest Guardian - The number of Redbridge Council officers who can enter homes and businesses without first obtaining a warrant has been revealed

Press and Journal – High number of city staff have powers to enter private homes

Daily Post – Conwy county lets 361 staff enter homes with no warrant

Burton Mail – Council using 52 Big Brother ‘snoopers’

Hampshire Chronicle – Scores of officials in Hampshire are given the power to enter your home

Daily Gazette – The Big Brother council staff who can simply barge into your home

Argyll News: How many Argyll & Bute Council officers can enter your home without consent, without a warrant and by force?


Monday 28th December

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 Express20,000 state snoopers who can walk into your homes

Daily Express – Debate: Has Britain become a Big Brother State?

BBC Radio Leicestershire

BBC Radio Northampton

Western Mail – Conwy near top of ‘Big Brother Barge-In League’

Hull Daily Mail – No warrant needed to enter homes


Sunday 27th December

Ilford Recoder – Redbridge: Spies in the skies

CCTV cameras are watching three times as many people in Redbridge than in any other neighbouring borough. Newly obtained figures show the borough has more council operated cameras than in all but 11 of the 418 local authorities quizzed.

The data has been compiled by campaign group Big Brother Watch, which sent Freedom of Information requests to councils across the country last month.


Thursday 24th December

South London Press – Wandsworth tops table of most CCTV cameras

A BOROUGH has more council-controlled CCTV cameras than some major cities, it has emerged.

Conservative-run Wandsworth operates 1,113 CCTV cameras, 486 more than the city of Birmingham, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

A report complied by privacy watchdog Big Brother Watch reveals that only three other local authorities in the UK operate more cameras than the flagship Tory borough.

Ham and High – Shock Haringey CCTV figures

Braintree and Witham Times - Braintree Council runs less than ten CCTV cameras


Wednesday 23rd December

Eastern Daily Press – We’re not a Big Brother state – claim

Police officers and council chiefs have denied Norfolk is becoming a Big Brother state after a new report revealed the scale of CCTV coverage keeping tabs on the county.

A national report has revealed that the number of council-owned closed circuit cameras has nearly trebled in a decade.

In Norwich, there are 180 city council-run cameras – 1.5 for every 1,000 people -, according to figures released by Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaign group.


Tuesday 22nd December

BBC Radio Surrey – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Mark Carter on the Breakfast show

Public Service – Councils triple CCTV use in decade

Kable – Councils triple CCTV use over decade


Monday 21st December

Camera Watch – Big Brother CCTV

Wiltshire Times – Big Brother’s cctv is watching us

Swindon Advertiser – Big Brother’s cctv is watching us


Sunday 20th December

Wales On Sunday - Swansea has the most CCTV cameras in Wales

Telstra BigPond World News – Fear over ‘Big Brother’ councils


Saturday 19th December

The Portsmouth News – You’re being watched…but do we really need 1,400 cameras? are needed to solve crime

Southern Daily Echo – Southampton council accused over CCTV count

Lincolnshire Echo – Pressure group says CCTV violates rights

Bucks Free Press – Anger over 250+ CCTV cameras in south Buckinghamshire, Wycombe, South Bucks, Chiltern

The Courier – CCTV gets backing from police

The Shetland News – Shetland has one of the highest densities of CCTV cameras in the UK

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


Friday 18th December

BBC News – Council CCTV cameras treble in 10 years

The number of council-operated CCTV cameras has nearly trebled in a decade, privacy campaigners say. There are now said to be 60,000 cameras run from town halls across the UK.

Alex Deane, the director of Big Brother Watch, which carried out the survey, said: “The evidence for the ability of CCTV to deter or solve crimes is sketchy at best.”

The study, entitled Big Brother is Watching, found that 418 local authorities control 59,753 cameras. Ten years ago, a similar study found that the total was 21,000.  

The Times – Local councils ‘have trebled number of CCTV cameras in a decade’

Daily Mail – Council snoopers watch us on 60,000 CCTV cameras

Evening Standard – 8,000 CCTV cameras are watching you

Guardian – Britain’s wasteful mania for CCTV

Daily Mirror – 60,000 CCTV snoop cams

Daily Express – CCTV cameras ‘being used as cheap policing’

Daily Telegraph – CCTV cameras trebled in ten years

Sky News – ‘Big Brother’ Councils Treble CCTV Cameras

The Scotsman – Big Brother is watching you – twice as much as rest of UK

BBC News 24 – Alex Deane clip discussing CCTV

Sky News – Alex Deane clip discussing CCTV

GMTV – Mentioned report in news bulletins

BBC Nottingham – Alex Deane interviewed

BBC South Today – Alex Deane interviewed

Granada Reports – Alex Deane interviewed

Southern Daily Echo – Full scale of council CCTV cameras in Hampshire revealed

Kettering Evening Telegraph – Growth of CCTV causes concerns

Yorkshire Post – Millions poured into network of CCTV cameras

Express and Star – 1,500 CCTV cameras spying on our streets

The Herald – Fears CCTV cameras used as ‘cheap alternative’ to policing

The Herald – We must decide if Big Brother is friend or foe

Norwich Evening News – Police back CCTV rise

East Anglian Daily Times – Big Brother is Watching

Daily Post – Full scale of CCTV cameras in North Wales revealed

Waltham Forest Guardian – Survey reveals more CCTV cameras per head of population than almost anywhere else in London

Huddersfield Daily Examiner – 161 Kirklees Council CCTV cameras watching you

Loughborough Echo – Councils treble number of cameras

Ipswich Evening Star – Big Brother Is Watching

Ipswich Evening Star PM – Borough defends rise in CCTV cameras

The Plymouth Herald – Camera for all city residents

The Economic Voice – Big Brother is not watching you

BBC Radio Humberside

BBC Radio Plymouth

Heart FM Devon

BBC Radio Newcastle

BBC Radio Devon

Heart FM Plymouth

LBC 97.3 FM

BBC Radio Northampton

Swansea Sound

icNewcastle – Councils treble number of cameras

Portsmouth News – City residents ‘most watched over’

Hebrides News Today – Big Brother Is Watching

info4security – Lobby group Big Brother Watch releases CCTV report

Ellesmere Port Pioneer – Councils treble number of cameras

Press and Journal – ‘Big Brother’ watching islanders

Local Government Chronicle – Councils treble CCTV cameras in a decade

The Stornoway Gazette – Big Brother is watching in the Western Isles

Dundee Evening Telegraph – CCTV: Big Brother’s watching Dundee

Coventry Telegraph – Councils treble number of cameras

Birmingham Post – Councils treble number of cameras

The Bolton News – Rise in number of CCTV cameras

Uxbridge Gazette – Councils treble number of cameras

24dash.com – Number of council-controlled CCTV cameras ‘have trebled’

ICM Commercial & Business News – Big Brother is watching – with 60,000 CCTV cameras

STV – Western Isles named UK CCTV capital

Press Association – Councils treble number of cameras

View London – Council controlled CCTV triples in a decade

Adfero – Council controlled CCTV triples in a decade

Australia HeraldSun – UK surveillance cameras stir big brother fears

LBC 97.3FM – ‘Big Brother’ Councils Treble CCTV Cameras

Heart FM – Big Brother’s Watching You

Mercia FM – Rugby in UK’s top 10 CCTV camera hotspots

InTheNews – Council controlled CCTV triples in a decade

Wave 105.2 FM – CCTV cameras treble


Wednesday 16th December

BBC Radio Humberside – Alex Deane interviewed by Peter Levy

The Sun – Alex Deane interviewed by John Gaunt on SunTalk

Daily Mail – March of the wardens: Town hall ‘enforcers’ with police powers increase by a fifth in a year

Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch said: ‘This is little less than state-sanctioned vigilantism. It’s even worse than policing on the cheap, it’s policing without the checks and balances that we get with the actual police force.

‘Councils are completely unequipped to police the pretend policemen they are licensing.

‘Even worse, the number of these officers is rising because councils want to send them out to collect the ludicrous fines for regulations we shouldn’t have imposed on us in the first place.’


Tuesday 15th December

LBC 97.3FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by James Whale on Drivetime

24dash.com – Home Office appoints Britain’s first CCTV regulator

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This regulator is only needed because Britain has gone far too far with CCTV.

“Our devotion to this flawed method of law enforcement is out of all proportion: CCTV accounts for more than three quarters of spending on crime prevention by the Home Office.

“We’re the only country that’s gone so far down this path. The Shetland Islands has more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department.”

LBC 97.3FM – Alex Deane interviewed by Nick Ferrari on the Breakfast Show


Monday 14th December

Daily Express – Ed Balls to scale down Big Brother checks

Dylan Sharpe, campaign ­director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The Government has ­fostered an atmosphere in which children are taught not to trust adults and adults are afraid to be left with children.”

Daily Mail – Vetting shambles: Ed Balls’ U-turn exempts 2million adults from criminal checks… but 9million parent helpers will still fall into the net

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The reality is that until we call a moratorium on the whole thing, people are going to be wondering ‘do I get this person CRB checked?”


Sunday 13th December

Morning Star – Activists welcome MP’s U-turn on safety checks

Big Brother Watch campaign director Dylan Sharpe added that, while these changes were very welcome, the damage had already been done.

“The government has fostered an atmosphere in which children are taught not to trust adults and adults are afraid to be left with children,” he said.


Saturday 12th December

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


Friday 11th December

Conservative Home – A mark to make us ashamed: Britain wants to brand Jewish goods

Perhaps we should expect little else from those who don’t shudder at the notion of creating a “Justice” Ministry. But even with that sort of crass ignorance of connotation and sense, I thought that the bright spark who suggests slapping little yellow stars on Jewish products might have sounded alarm bells somewhere.


Wednesday 9th December

The Christian Institute – EHRC: keep asking people about sexual orientation

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy.’


Tuesday 8th December

Human Events – Is Blair a War Criminal?

According to Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch and HUMAN EVENTS contributor, “It was very strange of the Government to try to keep these proceedings a secret. Whatever one thinks of the Iraq conflict, the purpose of the Chilcot Report was to put public misgivings to rest.

“That was never going to happen with the inquiry held in secret, and although public pressure has now forced a degree of openness, people will continue to harbor suspicions about the parts that are kept from us.”


Monday 7th December

City Talk 103.5FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Peter McDowall

Daily Express – New speed cameras to blitz 20mph zones

Dylan Sharpe, of Big Brother Watch, said: “The introduction of average speed cameras into residential areas is yet another intrusion into the lives of the assailed British motorist, making it ever more possible for the state to track and log our journeys.”

Freedom Today – How to fight back against the surveillance state

“Big Brother Watch is the new campaign from the founders of the TaxPayers’ Aliiance. In short, it does exactly what is says on the tin.

“We aim to fight injustice and campaign to protect our civil liberties and personal freedoms; to re-establish the balance of power between the state and individuals and families.”


Sunday 6th December

Pink News – Equality and Human Rights Commission to collate sexuality status from across government databases

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, told the Daily Mail: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy.

“When people go to hospital, they don’t think that information about their illness is going to be shared with the EHRC.”

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


Saturday 5th December

Daily Mail – Equality snoopers to keep files on your sexuality

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy.

‘When people go to hospital, they don’t think that information about their illness is going to be shared with the EHRC.

‘What possible right does the EHRC have to build this database, and then share what they’ve gathered with other people on their website?”

Old Holborn – Keep on Snooping

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy. ‘When people go to hospital, they don’t think that information about their illness is going to be shared with the EHRC.


Friday 4th December

The Argus (Brighton) - Hove school slammed for fingerprint plans

Big Brother Watch has complained that schools do not have the means for keeping biometric data like fingerprints safe.

Director of Conservative campaign group Big Brother Watch Alex Deane said: “A fingerprint is a unique characteristic which doesn’t change over time and is regularly used throughout the legal system.

“Handing this important piece of biometric data over to schools, which have many tremendous qualities but do not have secure data keeping facilities, is both dangerous and an intrusion into the lives of children who are unaware of the consequences.”


Wednesday 2nd December

BBC South East – Alex Deane interviewed by Polly Evans for the evening news

BBC Radio Surrey – Alex Deane interviewed by Danny Pike

Leith FM – Alex Deane interviewed on Logan’s Brunch Show

Daily Telegraph – David Cameron pledges health and safety clear-out

Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ”David Cameron is right to target the health and safety legislation that plagues our society. But announcing a review is no substitute for action.

”If the Conservative leader really wanted to act, he could pledge to scrap any law which allows local authorities and unelected bureaucrats to interfere with law-abiding citizens for no good reason.”

Tuesday 1st December

BBC Radio 5 Live – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Nick Cosgrove for the Richard Bacon Show

Metro – £500 reward to ‘snoop on neighbours’

“This shows the government is creating an army of citizen snoopers,’ said Dylan Sharpe, Campaign Director of Big Brother Watch.

“Making people spy on each other for cash reward is both immoral and dangerous, and should be condemned.”

Daily Telegraph – £500 reward for snooping on neighbours

However, Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaigning group, said: “This is a serious issue which most residents will be only too happy to assist the council in solving.

“However, by adding a financial incentive, not only will there be a greater chance of people alleging crimes where there are none, it also appears as if the council is building its own army of citizen snoopers.

“Making people spy on each other for cash reward is both immoral and dangerous, and should be condemned.”

BourseReflex – Le gouvernement anglais offre 620 euros aux citoyens dénonçant leurs voisins

Selon Dylan Sharpe, membre de l’organisation Big Brother Watch, cette campagne démontre l’intention du gouvernement de créer une armée d’espions. Environ 200.000 adresses en Angleterre soit 5% des locations recensées seraient illégales.

Media Coverage – 1st December 2009

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Media coverage | Leave a comment

Metro 01.12.09 Metro – £500 reward to 'snoop on neighbours'

BBC London 94.9FM – Dylan Sharpe by Big George on the Late Show

LBC 97.3FM – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Petrie Hoskin

Evening Standard – Government plan to pay £500 to snoop on your neighbour

But critics warn that the scheme could be divisive and said the payments were a further "dangerous" example of ministers encouraging residents to engage in unwarranted snooping on their neighbours.

Dylan Sharpe of the campaign group Big Brother Watch claimed the move showed the Government was creating "an army of citizen snoopers".

BBC 3 Counties Radio – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Roberto Perrone

BBC Radio 5Live – Dylan Sharpe interviewed by Anita Anand on Drivetime

Daily Telegraph – Critics attack new 'big brother' quiz aimed at identifying young criminals

Dylan Sharpe, of the Big Brother Watch pressure group, said: “This is incredibly intrusive and asks questions which, quite frankly, Lincolnshire Community Health Services do not need to know and have no right knowing.

“I would advise any parent receiving this to stick it straight in the bin.”

Daily Mail – £500 to spy on your neighbour: State 'bribe' to tip off council if house is being illegally sub-let

Ministers believe their campaign against illegal letting will also help clamp down on other social problems – such as prostitution, cannabis factories, fraud and illegal immigration.

Dylan Sharpe, from the organisation Big Brother Watch, said: 'This shows the Government is creating an army of citizen snoopers.'

Daily Express – ID cards rolled out in Manchester – but they're not even compulsory

Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “The people who have signed up for these cards in Manchester will probably not appreciate that, under Part 9, Schedule 1 of the ID Cards Act 2006, every time they use the card, the details of use – who they are, where they were, what they did with it, who they did it with – will be recorded indefinitely by the Government on this database.

“They will not know because they have not been warned about it – and that is disgraceful.”

The Sandwell hat-trick

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Sandwell Council really can't help themselves.Gnome1

They tried to fine Vanessa Kelly when she and her little boy fed the ducks.  Inevitably, they ignominiously backed down.

They tried to fine Kerrie-Anne Hickin for dropping a paper tissue whilst running for a bus.  Yet to back down, but watch this space.

And today, as told by our friends at the Express and Star (who must be bemused by this flood of inane authoritarianism on their doorstep), they have had to apologise to Linda Langford, having wrongly ordered her to remove her "welcome" plaque and pair of garden gnomes (on the grounds that they posed a risk to others… It's elf and safety gone mad!

Is there a more absurd authority in these islands?  We'd love to hear from you if so…

By Alex Deane

*image posed by model to preserve anonymity of innocent gnomes involved

BBC photographer stopped under Section 44

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home | 3 Comments

I was delighted to see that on the Andrew Marr show yesterday morning the eponymous host chose to take up nearly three minutes of his precious running-time to highlight the case of Jeff Overs.

Photographer Jeff is the BBC staff photographer who, when taking shots of the London skyline last week, found himself stopped and seached under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

The Evening Standard covered the story late on Friday and for those who didn't catch Jeff on Sunday, a clip will be available here (for a short time only).

The story rightfully drew the ire of Mr Marr and his guests Mariella Frostrup and Matthew Parris, all of whom agreed that it was yet further evidence of state overreach in preventing terrorism and a case of a complete absence of common sense by the police officer involved. 

Sadly not every photographer who has been moved-along, searched or even detained by the police for similar reasons gets this same exposure, however we know it happens nearly every day.  

According to the Standard:

A spokeswoman said: "We recognise the balance between effective policing and respecting the rights of the media and the general public to take photographs.

"Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs."

We wait to see if this makes any difference.

By Dylan Sharpe

Sandwell Council are at it AGAIN – Mother fined when tissue blows out of her pocket

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

Unbelievably, less than two weeks since Sandwell Council were left embarrassed by the torrent of negative headlines resulting from their decision to fine a young mother for feeding the ducks; (arguably) the most officious local authority in the country has done it again – this time fining another mother £75 for allowing a tissue to blow from her pocket.

We at Big Brother Watch hate littering as much as most people; but in this instance the woman involved was running for a bus and the tissue escaped from her pocket. And secondly, it blew straight across the road which made it practically impossible for her to chase after it.

SandwellCouncil Once again we are left wondering 'where is the common sense?'

And once again, Sandwell Council are defending the action.

Big Brother Watch will be contacting Ms Hickin shortly to offer our support and hopefully force Sandwell into another humiliating defeat.

By Dylan Sharpe 

Schools to vet parents for christmas

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

As reported by The Sunday Times yesterday, parents who help schools supervise children at Christmas events are being checked for a criminal record to see if they are paedophiles.

School_carol_service_2 The schools are apparently using a government database of sex offenders banned from working with children to vet adults under new guidelines.

According to the Times,

Graham McArthur, headmaster of Somersham primary school in Cambridgeshire, said checks on the two dozen parents volunteering to walk his 330 pupils to the carol service at nearby St John’s church on December 17 were necessary — even though they will be accompanied by teachers and a police community support escort when crossing the road.

“For the carol service they will need clearance [from the banned list] which is basically something we can do on the day. You need to see details of who they are, where they live and make several phone calls."

It is the 'several phone calls' which is the most unsettling. Put simply, it is a fundamental breach of privacy for parents to have their criminal records checked by school administrators. One wrong turn; a case of mistaken identity; or even a call to the wrong person (e.g. the parent's employer) and an innocent person could be unfairly branded for life.
This sort of overly officious and intrusive behaviour only serves to increase the culture of fear and mistrust that runs through our society.

By Dylan Sharpe