UK Whistleblowers Highlight The Dangers Of Widespread Police Surveillance/Database
from the that-does-not-look-good dept
We’ve had numerous stories concerning some rather concerning trends in law enforcement, including the use of things like redlight cameras to increase revenue, not make things safer, as well as the fact that more data can often make it harder for law enforcement to keep people safe. Finally, we’ve had a bunch of posts on the fact that government databases will almost always be abused.
It looks like all of this is coming together in the UK (way ahead of the US), and the end result is something of a disaster. In the past, we’d already seen widespread expansion of UK camera-surveillance programs, even as there was evidence they weren’t working. Add to that, the facts show that the increase in data was causing police to miss important clues, while other police were clearly abusing the system — and you create quite a volatile situation.
It seems that whistleblowers are beginning to speak up about the end result of all of this in the UK, and it’s not pretty at all. Basically, police are regularly abusing database systems to find questionable reasons to arrest people, just to boost either revenue or their own “stats” on arrests:
So fixated had officers become on their pursuit of arrests and ticket quotas that, until recently, the most successful vied for a prize known as the Bang It Out Cup. The officer with fewest results received the booby prize of an Underperforming Pig.
This target culture has allegedly led to unethical practices during roadside stops, according to concerned police sources. Some officers, they say, trawl through drivers’ personal data on police databases to find any reason to arrest. Alternatively, they “wind up” motorists who, in their frustration, become abusive and are then arrested for a public-order offence.
“In short, officers do not have a complete understanding of the law, use flawed databases to justify immediate seizures, fail to adequately research and evidence the basis of their belief and almost certainly knowingly seize vehicles just to satisfy service and personal performance targets,” one said.
These are the sorts of unintended consequences that people need to be aware of as this sort of surveillance society becomes prevalent elsewhere. Meanwhile, the stories of police trolling through the big database to find reasons to arrest people should (hopefully) quiet those who claim “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” If only that were true.