Police have admitted that they store photos of peaceful protesters on a criminal database. The Telegraph reports:
The Metropolitan Police last night confirmed it uses a criminal database to hold private information about protesters, including those who have not been convicted or accused of any crime.
The records are said to contain photos obtained by video surveillance of rallies and meetings as well as details of the demonstrators' political affiliations.
Activists who attended anti-war marches, climate change campaigns and protests against the proposed third Heathrow runway are among those whose personal data is stored on the Crimint database, which also contains intelligence on suspected criminals.
Nay sayers constantly tell those of us concerned about surveillance "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear", yet the people whose details are being stored on this database have done nothing other than exercise their constitutional right to protest. Who will have access to this database? We are constantly hearing about proposals to share data with police forces of other countries and people being flagged up in Criminal Records Bureau(CRB) checks when they have done nothing wrong. The UK police also have a National DNA Database containing the DNA of millions of people never convicted of a crime even though a European Court of Human Rights ruling said this was illegal.
In January we highlighted the case of Andrew Wood who as a shareholder of Reed Elsevier attended their AGM and broke no laws, yet the police followed him and repeatedly photographed him. Andrew who is a member of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade(CAAT) suspected that the police wanted to add his photo to a spotter sheet to be used at future events. It looks as though his suspicions were correct. Andrew took the police to court and the latest ruling is expected very soon.
Now powers in Clause 31 of the Policing and Crime bill could allow the installation of CCTV cameras to be a condition of licensing for all pubs, clubs, off-licences and corner shops. Once again we are asked to trust those in authority not to abuse their power. After all they don't spy on law-abiding citizens, and footage is disposed of in a timely manner - right?
Police surveillance footage recently released by the Surveillance and Society Journal shows footage of an operation to crack down on illegal street betting in Chesterfield in 1935 - now that's some retention period!