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Policewatch Films

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Life is too short to be controlled

No Borders Jan 23rd. St Pancras 2pm; Piccadilly Circus 4.30pm

FIT cameras are not the only surveillance that political protesters need worry about. CCTV is routinely used by police for the surveillance of political demonstration, as an alternative or an addition to deploying police photographers on the ground. Images are used to control the movement of demonstrations, to identify and record participants, and to provide evidence for the prosecution of misdemeanours. Information from CCTV systems can be shared with all manner of agencies, both in the UK and abroad.

It is therefore good to see groups like No Borders focusing attention on the controlling mechanism of CCTV.

There is an estimated half a million CCTV cameras in London, most of them installed and operated by private / corporate security. But there are also huge numbers of CCTV cameras directly linked to police control centres. Figures obtained by the BBC put the number at 7431, compared to 326 in Paris, 82 in Sydney, and 71 in San Francisco.

Academic research has cast a great deal of doubt over the effectiveness of CCTV in cutting crime – key research from Cardiff University claimed that CCTV alone had no effect in reducing the level of street crime. But what it does do is provide corporate and state authorities with an unprecedented level of surveillance and social control.

No Borders will be holding two demonstrations. “One will be at St. Pancras, where the UK (e-)border agency put up their controls in the middle of London. The second one will be at Piccadilly Circus where, while commuters, tourists and clubbers stare at the never-ending stream of commercials at ground level, they themselves are under constant observation by security and police in their cosy CCTV headquarters below ground.”

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