During a lazy Friday afternoon surf, I stumbled across this piece from Henry Porter in the Guardian.
The police are forcing publicans to install CCTV before approving their licences
On Monday the Guardian carried a letter from Nick Gibson who told how he had taken over a pub in Islington, London, and had to apply for a new licence, which required the approval of a number of organisations, including the police.
"I was stunned," he wrote, "to find that the police were prepared to approve – ie not fight – our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them on request."
Porter goes on to highlight why this should be considered a sinister policy if we wish to live in a free society.
It is clear that the police do indeed have an unofficial policy that they implement in a thoroughly undemocratic manner when advising on licence applications – not on the merits of the case but on the applicant's compliance with their policy.
CCTV has its purposes but the idea that someone going for a pint must give up their privacy by having their image taken and stored is repellent to all notions of a free society.
Right there with you, sunshine. It's also repellent that some commenters to the article see nothing untoward with this at all (though perhaps not surprising since this is the Guardian). One such sheep even justifies it by saying that with all the CCTV around, another won't hurt. Apart from somewhat skirting the fact that this is effectively police blackmail of a business owner, what sort of argument is that? "It's OK, you've taken a massive slice of my privacy, you might as well have the rest, I've no need of it now". Good grief.
Gibson has been put in a difficult position and I would expect the council to make the first move to resolve what is a minor but also crucial issue of privacy, which of course is guaranteed to each one of us by the Human Rights Act.
If it fails to do so, he might like to provide a mask at the entrances to his pub with a suggestion that if people want to drink in private they hold up the mask as they pass the cameras.
Perhaps there should be a V for Vendetta evening at the Drapers Arms. If Gibson would like to suggest a date in the next two weeks, I will publicise it.
Well, I'm always up for a bit of masked mischief, especially if there is beer involved. Anyone else?
In the meantime, it is important that the police understand it is not their business to use their influence to make and implement policy affecting people's privacy.
Point well made, but perhaps that should have read "... it used to not be their business ..."
You won't be shocked to hear that Mr Gibson's Labour MP, to whom he wrote regarding the matter, was about as useful as an inflatable dartboard.