A surveillance society

For some years, I have enjoyed photography as a hobby. Mainly landscapes, the odd wedding usually done under duress as a “favour” and occasionally securing back stage passes to local gigs and events. I was involved in local photography groups and for a few years functioned as an admin for a local group.

As part of all that, I became aware of police misusing powers that were enacted under the terrorism acts to prevent people from taking photographs in public places. Predominantly around buildings and such. Stop and Search powers were used to intimidate people who were just trying to enjoy a hobby they were passionate about. They were probably as far away from being terrorists as people could possibly be. Similar powers have been misused by various state bodies, including councils to ensure you are using wheelie bins correctly. These things show up in the press from time to time.

This led me to reading a number of articles and a few books on the subject. We are increasingly becoming a surveillance society.

There must be checks and balances in any democratic society. The police need to be able to do their job effectively, no one can argue that. But what about when it erodes your freedoms and civil liberties? How much are we willing to give up to feel safe and secure? The media plays its part of creating a state of fear too.

So today, we come to the police commissioner elections. One topic on the agenda is accountability. Another is whether some of the police roles ought to be outsourced.

Personally, I believe you outsource a solution, not a problem. It has to be an extremely well defined or simple function to successfully outsource something. Policing does not fall into this category. Do you remember the group 4 cock ups when they took over the transport of prisoners?

Take a look at your local election. And cast your vote. That is what democracy is about. If you don’t, then do not whinge later when these things infringe on your own civil liberties.

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