Tuesday, 3 May 2011

How extensive is all this surveillance? ... and some other items

The Guardian 3rd May carried the story of Mr John Catt (aged 86) who, it seems, has had his presence at peaceful protests systematically logged by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) for some 4 years.  He has been given permission in the High Court to bring an action against the police.  See The Guardian - "Protester to sue police over secret surveillance."  The NPOIU operates under the aegis of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).  Concern has been rising for some time about the extent of such surveillance - see, for example, The Guardian 25th October 2009, "How Police rebranded lawful protest as domestic extremism."  It makes one wonder just how many people are under similar surveillance.  Maybe one of our elected representatives at Westminster might care to look into it?

How many surveillance cameras are there in Britain and how many times a day is each individual seen on camera?  One survey estimated the number
of cameras to be 4.2 million with each person seen on average 300 times daily.  The Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire - Mr. Graeme Gerrard - challenges this - see the ACPO website for more but, interestingly, Mr Gerrard is not actually able to say how many cameras there are.  Mr Gerrard wrote - "Are we still the most watched nation of earth? Since we have yet to see estimates from other countries it is impossible to say, but hopefully those that claim that we are will now have the opportunity to revise their figures."  The Protection of Freedoms Bill, currently before Parliament, says something about cameras - see the earlier Law and Lawyers post.

On 19th April, The Times published "CPS blunders threaten climate change convictions."  Mr Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, took the unusual step of inviting the Ratcliffe-on-Soar protesters to take their cases to the Court of Appeal, saying that their convictions for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at the power station may be unsafe.   Mr Starmer added that the protesters should cite the "non-disclosure of material" relating to the activities of Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer.  The CPS statement on this is here.   Law and Lawyers earlier post on this matter.

Other items

The UK Human Rights blog has some interesting recent posts: "Superinjunctions go supernova", "Adoption, same sex couples and religion - again", "UK would have been obliged to use torture evidence to find Bin Laden."   The UK Constitutional Law Group is the blog of the International Association of Constitutional Law."  There is some very good and challenging material here.

There is to be a Law Blogs event on 19th May at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, London.  Whether I will get there myself is somewhat uncertain just now.  However, I will certainly be there in spirit and will be very interested in the outcome.  I wish the event well.

Finally, don't forget to vote this Thursday 5th May in the referendum.  As far as I know this is only the second referendum ever held for the whole of the U.K.  The method of electing our Members of Parliament is of crucial importance.   Earlier post - The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011.


  1. I have been concerned about the activities of ACPO, which is a private company, for quite some time. Why is a private company displaying a police badge complete with a crown as though it is a public body?

    Instead of David Cameron seeking to curb the power of IPSA and the ECtHR, perhaps he should instead be curbing the power of this private company?

  2. @jailhouselawyer - there are many who share your concern about the influence which ACPO has. There are several posts on this blog referring to ACPO. Enter ACPO in the search box and they will come up.