Police chief reflects on the surveillance society

Police chief’s ‘Orwellian’ fears
BBC News May 20th 2007

A senior police officer has said he fears the spread of CCTV cameras is leading to “an Orwellian situation”.

Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said Britain could become a surveillance society with cameras on every street corner.

He told the BBC’s Politics Show that CCTV was being used in small towns and villages where crime rates were low.

Mr Readhead also called for the retention of some DNA evidence and the use of speed cameras to be reviewed. His force area includes the small town of Stockbridge, where parish councillors have spent £10,000 installing CCTV.

Mr Readhead questioned whether the relatively low crime levels justified the expense and intrusion.

‘Every street corner?’

“I’m really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next?” he said.

“If it’s in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner? “And I really don’t think that’s the kind of country that I want to live in.”

There are up to 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people. The UK also has the world’s biggest DNA database, with 3.6 million DNA samples on file.

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