This week we have seen several sad tales of our overbearing state in the media covering everything from stopping and searching amateur photographers; to requiring parents who volunteer with their local school this Christmas undergo a criminal record check. With tales of health and safety Christmas trees and carol singer restrictions, seems ‘tis the season for ill-judged Big Brother state interventions.
As always, if you hear of any similar cases - get in touch and Big Brother Watch will be happy to lend our services in shaming the offending authority.
Sandwell Council – are they the worst local authority in the county? Help us decide!
Just under a month ago, young mother Vanessa Kelly was fined by Sandwell Council for feeding the ducks in her local park. When we publicised this case on our blog and in the media we received several comments from people who said they were not surprised that the case involved Sandwell…little did we know.
In the past seven days Sandwell Council has been in the headlines twice more for disproportionate, officious acts of injustice. The first case involved a woman running for the bus whose tissue escaped from her pocket and blew across the road. Just as with Vanessa, a prying council litter warden immediately intervened and fined the woman with little regard to circumstances or common sense. A day later Sandwell was back in the papers having ordered a woman to remove the garden gnomes from her own front porch on the grounds of health and safety.
There is no doubt that these are disgraceful acts that typify our Big Brother state – but is there a worse local authority that doesn’t get the same media exposure? We have started a discussion on our facebook group or you can email us with your nominations (and a reason why). We need your help in finding the top 10 worst local authorities in Britain.
YouTube channel launches
This week the Big Brother Watch YouTube channel – ‘BigBrotherWatched’ – has launched with two clips of Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, being interviewed for various TV programmes.
In the future we hope to have all Big Brother Watch TV interviews and our own recorded footage available on this channel. So visit and subscribe today to be the first to find out when our new videos are uploaded.
Community Safety and CCTV
Last week Big Brother Watch was invited to speak at a Community Safety Workshop in Loughborough. The event was organised by the Prospective Conservative Candidate for Loughborough, Nicky Morgan, in the wake of the tragic deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter who came from nearby Barwell in Leicestershire.
In a well-attended and lively session attended by, among others, a local police officer, the Lead Member for Community Safety from the Local Council and the ASBO co-ordinator; we were surprised by the storng desires of the residents of Loughborough and its environs ire to see more CCTV cameras in the fight against anti-social behaviour.
As a consequence, Big Brother Watch was moved to explain the many problems with CCTV, and found general agreement on its faults from the audience. The event has once again highlighted the problem of CCTV’s placebo effect and how it must be tackled if resources are to be properly used for community safety. Big Brother Watch will have a report out in the near future which brings these issues together, so look out for that.
Blogs of the Week
Smart Meters: coming to a boiler near you – Ed Miliband announces a £9bn scheme to get instant readings on our energy use. The savings are minimal, the data is heading for another government database, and who knows what the state can do when it has access our boilers…
Schmoozed hack pens fairytale ID card defence – tacky and shockingly inaccurate article from a Manchester Evening News columnist who equates getting her new ID card to the birth of her first child.
Fined for leaving the bin out – Salford has a problem with kids lighting fires in wheelie bins. Man leaves wheelie bin in the street. Salford fines man £550. Salford Council can’t stop the real criminals, so they create one from a man who has committed no greater crime than failing to move his wheelie bin 10 yards. Shocking.
BBC South East - Alex Deane interviewed by Polly Evans for the evening news
BBC Radio Surrey - Alex Deane interviewed by Danny Pike
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.”
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.”
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
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 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.”