When the coalition government came to power, one of their many ‘promises’ was to address public concerns about the proliferation of CCTV and the rise of the surveillance state.
Yesterday, Lord Taylor, minister for criminal information, presented a draft code. However, the code really doesn’t cover much.
The code only covers local council and police CCTV use, and they will not face sanctions if the code is breached. Schools, hospitals, British Transport Police, and private CCTV systems in public areas, such as shopping centres, will not be covered.
A Surveillance Camera Commissioner is also proposed, although they will have no powers of enforcement or inspection.
With around four million CCTV cameras in use in the UK, the code of practice will only cover a very tiny proportion.
For what it is worth, the code specifies that operators must use CCTV for a clearly specified purpose, and ensure that there are signs to publicise that CCTV is in use, including ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras.
According to Lord Taylor “Through this code of practice, and with an independent commissioner, we will ensure that for the first time there is a robust framework in place, one focused on helping the police and local authorities to cut crime, which will ensure CCTV and ANPR are used appropriately.”
According to Emma Carr, deputy director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch “For the new system to cover only a tiny fraction of CCTV cameras, not even those in school lavatories, it is clearly a disappointment to the wide range of people concerned that in many areas CCTV in Britain has got out of hand that the new system is largely a box-ticking exercise with no consequences for people who ignore it.”
So, we have a code that only applies to a tiny, tiny proportion of CCTV in use, and it doesn’t seem to cover anything that isn’t already covered.
It also WASTES MORE TAXPAYERS MONEY by employing another crony/quango combination that is not needed.
The only thing we can say is that we are speechless at yet more incompetence generated by the government.