British Cops Try To Force CCTV On Pub Owner

from the surveillance-society dept

The use of CCTV continues to grow in the UK as police and intelligence agencies seek to cover ever-larger areas of the country with security cameras in an attempt to prevent and solve crime. In many cases, the cameras are covering public areas, but one pub owner in London says that police are trying to force him to install CCTV cameras in his business — and turn footage over to them upon demand — as a condition of his operating license. The man bought an existing pub, and the change of ownership required him to apply for a new license. He alleges local police said they wouldn’t oppose the new license, as long as he installed a CCTV system that captured images of every person that came into his pub, and made that footage freely available to them as part of a new blanket policy covering particular parts of London. The office of the British Information Commissioner took exception to the plan, saying this sort of blanket policy for new license holders raised serious privacy concerns, and could fall foul of data protection rules. It finally looks like there’s some significant pushback against the UK’s growing surveillance society, both from the Information Commissioner, but also in the form of a recent report from the House of Lords, saying the country’s 4 million and counting CCTV cameras were undermining personal freedom and privacy, which are vital to democracy.

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Comments on “British Cops Try To Force CCTV On Pub Owner”

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PaulT (profile) says:

London != UK. I wish more people would realise this. CCTV coverage outside of the capital is a lot lower than people try to make out with this kind of story.

The 4 million figure comes from a debunked study that extrapolated figures from a single street in London. As far as I’m aware, this number has never been verified by any other means and is most likely wildly incorrect.

As for this particular story, it’s a single police force suggesting that his licence application would be easier if CCTV were installed. They didn’t make it a condition of the licence, nor is it official policy elsewhere.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Want to quantify that?

The Metropolitan Police are saying that they will not challenge the licence application if CCTV is installed. This is a single police force based in London (out of, I believe, 43 in the whole country), and licence applications are easier if the local police force do not challenge it.

Where did my statement go wrong?

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

Re: Re: Please to remember the 5th of November

Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night, Cracker Night, Fireworks Night, Bonny Night) is an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November. It celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5 November, 1605 in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, were alleged to be attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England.

Carlos says:

Ok Paul, but...

As far as I know, the “police force suggesting that his licence application would be easier…” situation could be considered coercion.

And BTW, “London != UK”… I knew that one! But, (there is always a but) I lived on the UK for a couple of years (bot in London) and I was surprised by the number of CCTV all around the country.

Wonderful country, even when you have no may privacy 😉

sf suave says:

Not some back water...

Despite the many assertions to the contrary, the UK is not some quaint little back water that consists only of London, 4 million CCTV cameras and a couple of William Shakespear museums.

Granted, London has a hugh amount of CCTV cameras but, where I live I can get too and from work (our building has 4 cameras) and never see a single camera and that includes traffic cameras.

When I visited the States I couldn’t believe how “Big Brother” it felt. From the airports, traffic lights, public parks and shopping malls, you guys have cameras everywhere. I felt like I was being treated like a terrorist, just for having the nerve to step off a plane (and I’m not of middle eastern descent)!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “down” on America, far from it, I had some great times there, but please stop assuming that the UK starts and ends with London and your quaint idea of chocolate box cottages. From personal experience, America needs to put its own house in order before it starts criticising others…

hegemon13 says:

Re: Not some back water...

And you should quit assuming we assume that…

I don’t know of any Americans that actually think of the UK as “quaint” or “backward.” Most people fully understand that the UK is as modern as we are.

“American needs to put its own house in order before it starts criticizing others…”

Um, no. America absolutely has problems that need to be fixed, but refusing to critically analyze the rest of the world and learn from it was exactly the core mistake of the Bush regime. Thank goodness we finally have a president who realizes that competent human beings exist all over the world, not just in the US. Too bad he has to be so naive and two-faced on other issues, though.

Last, where did you go that had cameras everywhere? I live in the Midwest, and I rarely travel, but I have not experienced that at all. Many businesses have a private security camera system, but there is nothing approaching the level of intrusiveness of placing government cameras inside a private business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not some back water...

“I don’t know of any Americans that actually think of the UK as “quaint” or “backward.””

Then why do they have a Queen/King?

“Most people fully understand that the UK is as modern as we are.”

Some day hopefully when they straighten out their political system.

interval says:

Re: Re: Re: Not some back water...

“Then why do they have a Queen/King?”

Tradition. Its a bit like rebel flag in the state flag of (whatever southern state still has the damn thing in it.) They don’t hang on to that silly nonsense becuase they really wish to bring back slavery, they just do it ’cause they’ve been doing it for ever, same thing with the Royals. Liz II doesn’t have any power, not really. Who gives a damn about them? Conspiracy assholes, that’s who. You need to put your concern where it really belongs. With the growing power of the government of the US and all the other so-called “Democracies.” Feh.

DS says:

Re: Not some back water...

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “down” on America”, but I do believe that everyone is stupid enough to think that “the UK is … some quaint little back water that consists only of London, 4 million CCTV cameras, and a couple of William Shakespear[sic] museums.”

I fixed it for you.

We get what an awful country you live in. We get that London is one of the worse examples.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not some back water...

We get what an awful country you live in. We get that Detroit is one of the worse examples.

Two can play that game 😉 Unless you’ve lived there for any length of time, you’re in no position to judge London (90% – at least – of what you read about it is tabloid hyperbole that’s a long way from the truth), and London is a long way from being representative of most of England, let alone the UK.


Re: Not some back water...

Exactly! — and we are using London as an example of what not to do. You were visiting high profile places, and high profile places were the first to cave under the “be afraid” politics of the last decade. The story here on techdirt is of great use to Americans as a cautionary tale of fubar’d we could end up if we don’t resist.

bigness says:

sf suave.....

Unlike in UK, most of the cameras put up in the US are by private property owners protecting their investments (banks, stores, malls etc.). Police may only access this data through a warrant (or if the owner agrees). When you enter a private building, you agree to the owner’s rules or you don’t come in. The US government doesn’t put up cameras throughout public areas or watch apartment buildings – your government does! And traffic lights only go off if you go through a red light thereby breaking the law – they are not on all the time. See our government doesn’t watch us all the time – whereas you have allowed your government do so. Have fun with that.

Michial (user link) says:

Re: sf suave.....

Not entirely true;

Here in Dallas you can drive along any major highway and be inside the view of state hosted cameras nearly 100% of the drive. As well as numerous areas of the city are under police surveilance to “assist with fighting crime.”

To my knowledge all these cameras were installed without consulting the population. I lived here before they were installed, and never heard a word about them being installed until they just strted showing up on the tops of really tall poles.

opit (profile) says:


I always thought the ‘perps’ of 9/11 were identified with indecent haste : considering no forensic examination of the crash site was announced.
My first reaction is that the same thing is always going to occur : public demand for answers will prompt ‘answers’…just don’t insist on accuracy.
So today we know that the 9/11 investigation was bullshit and that spying on Americans has been intrusive for years. What is still not realized that that was just a matter of degree, not of kind.
The cameras ? Who has time to analyze all that content ? This will put ‘crime fighting’ back, not ahead, because too many false leads will be generated. But if you want to ‘get’ somebody, the state won’t be able to keep its seive of a security network from spilling out all kinds of personal secrets.
That should be handy for organized blackmail.

CCTV (profile) says:


Would making the footage on such surveillance systems freely available to the police be a serious privacy concern? Of course!
Would having the footage available under court supervision to curb criminal behavior be a good thing (subject to appellate review, a single judge can’t be trusted!)? Of course!
The correct answer is somewhere in the middle, not on the fringes of the extreme right or the extreme left.

Duncan Hill says:

Paul T,

please can you provide proof of your assertions such as “The 4 million figure comes from a debunked study that extrapolated figures from a single street in London” and “CCTV coverage outside of the capital is a lot lower than people try to make out with this kind of story.”

Nice how you are the “expert” about CCTV in the UK, given that you live in, err, Spain.

ED says:

UK Police State

The UK isn’t heading towards a becoming police state – it already is one. We take a look at the top 10 list of police state measures:

Local councils in the UK now put RFID tags in rubbish bins to monitor the amount of waste created by each household with a view to enforcing a “recycling tax.”

The UK government has now put a RFID chip into passports and the Oyster card records details on every journey made.

Drivers will have an RFID chip installed in their car and be forced to pay for every mile they drive.

Do you want to make your voice heard? Well, if you want to protest in the centre of London you now have to apply for permission from the police.

The government now plans to install X-Ray cameras in a bid to combat “terrorism”.

Children can now have their biometric data taken from them at school without their parents consent.

There are now cameras that shout orders at people who “misbehave” in the street.

Schools justify the complete loss of privacy for children by saying it cuts down on vandalism and bullying.

Police now want powers to take DNA samples from people on the street for petty offences such as speeding or dropping litter.

Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act police officers can search you without the need to show that an offence is being committed. Not only that, but even if you are innocent you can be held for 28 days without charge.

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