Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Fuck tha Police!

What the fucking fucking fuck?

The Met Police got a short sharp rap over the knuckles yesterday, as the Office of the Information Commissioner questioned what looks very much like a blanket policy to force CCTV onto public houses in certain parts of London.

The story begins with a letter to the Guardian last week, from Nick Gibson. He is currently renovating Islington pub The Drapers Arms, after its previous owners allowed it to go insolvent and then disappeared.

In his letter, he argues that if he had merely taken over an existing licence, the police could not have imposed any additional conditions. However, because this was now a new licence, the police were able to make specific requests, including one particular request in respect of installing CCTV.

Mr Gibson wrote: "I was stunned to find the police were prepared to approve, ie not fight, our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request. There was no way that they could have imposed this on the previous licence holder."

We spoke to the Police and to Islington Council. The Council were clear that this was not their policy: they would look at individual licence applications in the light of representations made to the Licensing Committee and decide on a case by case basis.

It was left to the Met to confirm the existence of a blanket policy for some parts of London. A spokeswoman for the Met said: "The MPS overall does not have a policy of insisting CCTV is installed within licensed premises before supporting licence applications.

"However, individual boroughs may impose blanket rules in support of their objectives to prevent crime and disorder and to assist the investigation of offences when they do occur.

"Islington is one of the most densely populated districts for licensed premises in London and the borough's licensing authority is committed to providing a safe environment in which to socialise.

"To this end, Islington police recommend all premises are required to install CCTV and make those images available to police upon request before a licence is granted."

This is in stark contrast to existing guidelines (pdf) put together by the Office of the Information Commissioner, which requires any body seeking to install CCTV to do so on a case by case basis and only after carrying out a full impact assessment. Clearly, a blanket policy covering a whole borough would fail to meet these guidelines.

When we put this to the Met, they clarified further, explaining that they did not "impose" CCTV, but merely put it forward as a "recommendation" to the relevant Licensing body. We also asked why they had mentioned a requirement for all licenseholders to make images available "on request" – which would be a serious extension of police powers. The Met responded that there was no intention to trawl footage for purposes of crime prevention – and this was merely a re-statement of existing law.

However, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Information Commissioner said: "Hardwiring surveillance into the UK’s pubs raises serious privacy concerns. We recognise that CCTV plays an important role in the prevention and detection of crime, and can help to reduce crime in areas of high population density, such as city boroughs.

"However, we are concerned at the prospect of landlords being forced into installing CCTV in pubs as a matter of routine in order to meet the terms of a licence. The use of CCTV must be reasonable and proportionate if we are to maintain public trust and confidence in its deployment.

"Installing surveillance in pubs to combat specific problems of rowdiness and bad behaviour may be lawful, but hardwiring in blanket measures where there is no history of criminal activity is likely to breach data protection requirements. We will be contacting the police and others involved to establish the facts and discuss the situation in Islington.”

Who are these fuckers and what the fuck makes them think they have the right to even consider foisting this sort of shit on us? And what's this shit about proportionate? We're already the most heavily surveilled society outside of fiction.

These fuckers are just running roughshod over everyone with their lazy-arse policing by CCTV.

It's time to shitcan the police COMPLETELY and fucking start again.


This sentiment was echoed by Chris Huhne, Lib Dems Home Affairs spokeman, who added: "The impression is that CCTV is a panacea for preventing crime but the evidence for this is far from conclusive.

And you can fuck right off too, you hypocritical, flip-flopping, sound-bite-driven cock sniffer.


The Penguin said...

Steadily they advance the Police State. Buy some shares in ACPO...

The Penguin.

Dave H said...

A pub called The Drapers Head will be opening soon.

It was formerly known as The Drapers Shite, which had a right arse for a landlord, only served the most awful food and beer and closed soon after opening through lack of customers.


Too bloody right. How very dare they?
Found this http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/20797485/chinas_allseeing_eye/print when waddling round cyberspace: bloody unnnerving that China's using the UK's surveillance strategies as a blueprint for spying on their own citizens.

Roger Thornhill said...

I am getting sick and tired of your fence-sitting, Obo.

This is an outrageous imposition. It is a form of corruption - when you get entities acting as arbiter on someone earning a living they can pretty much demand allsorts.

If the pub has a bad rep, then the Fuzz has the right to protest and demand the license is withdrawn. THAT is how it should be, not this pre-emptive "guilty until proven innocent" issue.

I am considering writing to Islington and stating that I will not frequent ANY Islington pub if ONE is forced to install this shyte.

Maybe we should let ALL the pubs know that all of them will suffer if any cave in and let those who have hijacked our Police "service" have their way.

Falco said...

I used to live in Islington borough, (Finsbury Park) and worked on Caledonian Road, (5 minutes walk from the Drapers Arms.

I haven't been there for about 18 months or so but it was a very posh gastro pub. Hardly the epicentre of violence, (unlike some of the kebab shops on Upper Street), that could conceivably require surveillance. In fact I regularly had lunch or dinner there with my ex and her father, (neither of which I would have taken anywhere remotely violent).

The Met have picked a bad target here. You might almost imagine they simply wish to have proof of where everyone is all the time.