Today at Prime Minister's Questions, the Leader of the Opposition, Harriet Harman, took on the new Prime Minister on the issue of CCTV.
Harman asked David Cameron to spell-out his plans to regulate CCTV (something we have also done - albeit for different reasons). Sadly, in response, the new PM said he "supports CCTV", but the level of surveillance in society had become too great - "it's a question of proportionality."
Returning to the issue, Harman then said that a particular estate in her constituency apparently wanted their CCTV system, before adding: "They don't want to be told by this government that it's going to be made harder to get the CCTV they need on their estate. Can I press him about this, this is about people feeling and being safe in their communities."
Cameron didn't go any further to elucidate the plans for regulating CCTV, although he did make more encouraging noises on powers of entry and general surveillance. What is clear is that the Coalition are clearly not as sure on getting rid of camera surveillance as they were on ID cards.
Big Brother Watch feels that it is time to press the new Government on CCTV to ensure they don't back down on the initial promises. To that end we have just released the following statement:
"It was very disappointing to see the Prime Minister soften his position on CCTV today. For the past decade, countless millions of pounds have been spent increasing the level of camera surveillance in this country, with no appreciable reduction in crime or increase in safety as a result. If the Coalition Government is serious about privacy and civil liberties, it will make sure that it tackles the public sector’s wasteful mania for CCTV as soon as possible."
We wait to see what the response is.
By Dylan Sharpe
For a more detailed explanation of our arguments against CCTV please read:
Big Brother is Watching - Big Brother Watch's first major report into Council-controlled surveillance.
Why Alan Johnson is wrong on CCTV - A short blogpost summarising the anti-CCTV argument.