Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


APPENDIX 23

Memorandum submitted by Mr Mark Dziecielewski

  Given the vast range of activities which your inquiry "A Surveillance Society?" will only have time to skim over, here are a few general points which I would like you to consider:

1.  CCTV SURVEILLANCE CAMERA MEDIA SOUND BITES

  Do not rely on the media sound bites about "4.2 million cameras" or "20% of the world's cameras" or "monitored 300 times a day". These figures are usually quoted without attribution or context. They are only guesstimates by the noted criminologist Professor Clive Norris, http://ccr.group.shef.ac.uk/people/cnorris.htm made over 4 years ago in 2003, so they are probably an UNDERESTIMATE. See: "Estimating the extent, sophistication and legality of CCTV in London", by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris, published in CCTV edited by Martin Gill, Perptuity Press 2003 (now distributed by Palgrave Paladin) ISBN: 189928771X.

2.  AUTOMATIC NUMBER PLATE RECOGNITION (ANPR)

  The idea of "roadside" ANPR whereby Police patrols actually stop illegal drivers and their vehicles is welcome. With 30 million vehicles on the road this is a logical policy.

  However, the idea of Yet Another National Centralised Database, the National Automatic Numberplate Recognition Database, is very different, especially since the otherwise private vehicle movement data of millions of innocent motorists, who are not being investigated as part of a specific criminal investigation, is being stored for two to six years or more, regardless.

  The fact that this database is also to be fed from non-Police operated ANPR cameras, from Local Authorities, Local Police/Community Safety Partnership quangos, and from commercial Road Pricing or Congestion Charging sub-contractors, Supermarkets and Petrol Retailers is a huge privacy and surveillance worry.

  There is a history of low paid employees working long hours unsupervised by senior managers eg at night, being involved in Credit Card "skimming" fraud, even with the latest Chip and PIN machines. They have been exploited by international organised criminals and terrorism financiers.

  Why should such powerful surveillance technologies, linked to the Police National Computer and the DVLA name and address records of vehicle keepers, be allowed to be accessed by anyone other than real police constables?

3.  DATA RETENTION OF CCTV DATA

  The Home Office is involved in European Union wide plans for the mandatory Data Retention of electronic Communications Traffic Data, on 450 million innocent European Union Citizens. This is a stupid, wasteful and privacy invasive policy.

  Why are there no corresponding plans to demand mandatory Data Retention of CCTV surveillance camera data for a minimum period eg for two months?

  Surely that would make more sense in the fight against terrorism and serious crimes?

4.  CCTV CAMERA REGISTRATION

  Such CCTV data retention should ideally also lead to the Registration or Licensing of CCTV cameras, which must be beneficial in the critical time period immediately after a serious crime or terrorist incident, when so much police time is wasted hunting down whether CCTV images are available, or trying to find the contact details of the operators.

5.  CCTV WARNING SIGNS

  You do not need planning permission to put up CCTV surveillance cameras, provided that they do not breach the Building Regulations (no mare than 16 cameras on the exterior of a building, more than 2.5 metres above the ground, smaller than the size of a microwave oven ie all modern cameras now on sale etc)?

  However you do need planning permission to put up warning signs that there are CCTV cameras in operation.

  The effect of this is that there are more cameras than signs, which is a stupid way to run systems which are meant to deter crime, and lead to gimmicks like "shouting" CCTV systems.

6.  NATIONAL DATABASES NEED SINGLE POINTS OF CONTACT TO INVESTIGATE COMPLAINTS AND ERRORS

  The current system whereby each Chief Constable is deemed to be the Data Controller for his regional Police Force, even for data uploaded by his subordinates to a National Database e.g. the Police National Computer, the National DNA Database, the National ANPR database etc. is now unacceptable.

  There should be a single point of contact with the actual managers of these National Surveillance Databases,—for the majority of people, it is a bureaucratic nightmare trying to determine even who to contact to complain, let alone get errors corrected.

7.  RECTIFYING MISTAKES AND FINANCIAL COMPENSATION AND APOLOGIES

  It is inevitable that with the current surveillance technologies, mistakes will be made.

  Surely, if we want to make use of these technologies to just and peaceful society, far, far more attention and financial resources should be made available to the rapid rectification of errors, with unstinting and if necessary public, apologies from senior people, and generous financial compensation?

  A humane attitude to correcting mistakes, without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops or to have to go to the complexity and expense of a court case, would go a long way in converting the public's suspicion of faceless bureaucratic snooping and surveillance, into an acceptance of these tools as a necessary evil.

  I hope that your inquiry will have time to look into some or all of these points.

April 2007





 
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