I wrote last week of trends that seemed to be colliding and reinforcing the ‘liberties’ agenda. There have been more since then, both pointing in the same direction.
In summary: the first is the latest Home Office report on their progress on ID cards, published a month late, which showed that the costs were continuing to grow even with some creative accounting (£510m moved from the Home Office to the Foreign Office). NO2ID has details. The combination of ratcheting costs, uncertain technology, and political opposition (both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are against) can be fatal as elections start to come into view.
The second was the story from the BBC that a senior police officer has raised concerns about the ubiquity of surveillance cameras. Ian Readhead is Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire, and spoke about the appearance of cameras in places (such as the picture postcard village of Stockbridge, between Winchester and Salisbury) where crime rates are too low to justify the investment.
But his point was more about unintended social consequences than economic rationale:
“I’m really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next? 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.”
I believe that Readhead is the first senior police officer to make this point attributably in public. The BBC story quotes the UK as having 4,2m surveillance cameras and the world’s biggest DNA database, with 3.6m samples on it.
There’s a video story on the BBC site as well.