Monday, April 20, 2009

What's The Point of CCTV If It Doesn't Work?

The Tamils are protesting again in Parliament Square this morning. When I walked past at around 9.45 they were surging out of their contained area and the Police were having trouble controlling them. It all seemed fairly good natured though, which is more can be said for the mood of the cars and buses which were caught up in it all (again). A colleague of mine has a meeting in Covent Garden at 1, so thought he would use a bit of ingenuity to find out the latest state of play...
I have lunch in Covent Garden today so therefore decided to see how bad the demo in Parliament Square was in order to plan route around it. Called up the BBC Traffic webcam (not accessible as “in use”) and then searched for other web-views and cam station. Both of the Parliament Square webcams were blank for “operational reasons”. It would be interesting in the event of an “incident” there what the police would say about the availability of CCTV footage and it prompts the question as to whether the reason there was no CCTV footage available of the incident at the G20 protest was because the police had control of the cameras.

20 comments:

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

Of course the polis are controlling the cameras! They need to edit any 'incidents' before releasing the footage to the MSM.

Pavlov's Cat said...

The CCTV traffic cams are always blocked during these events.

I believe the excuse is that, people watching from outside, could contact those on the ground and infrom them of Police tactics,rally points, cordons forming, snatch squads asembling etc. Enabling the protestors to circumvent any proposed crowd control measures.

Rather than for any nefarious purpose over covering up, this is just a happy by-product.

JMB said...

It happens any time that there is an "incident".

I am convinced that if AQ managed to let off some sort of small nuclear device in London, we would just be warned about traffic congestion in Central London because of an "incident".

Anonymous said...

off topic but :>
http://dungeekin.blogspot.com/2009/04/hit-road-jacq.html
Tee - hee

Chalcedon said...

Turn 'em off so the revolutionaries can't direct their attack dogs to weak spots in the thin blue line. Of course the added bonus is when some plod whacks a hippie it can be edited. That said, these Greenis the other week are extremely good at winding the force up. the police showed great restraint, in the main.

I just wonder why there are so many of these Tamils over here and not in Tamil Nadu?

Scan said...

Iain,
Probably because of this:

"The Department for Transport (DfT) has ruled that Westminster council's mobile road cameras - a third of the authority's CCTV network - "do not fully meet the resolution standards required."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/mar/30/cctv-london-government-transport-g20

Neopeitha said...

Entirely possible. There have already been worryingly similar cases of police confiscating cameras which showed them breaking the law. The battle for control of cameras in public space is taking on a slightly worrying dimension: courts rely on evidence and justice is put in jeopardy if access to evidence is not equal.

Salmondnet said...

I had a look round Parliament Square at about 10.45. At that point the protesters were blocking the roads in front of Parliament, in front of the Treasury, across Whitehall and at the end of Westminster Bridge opposite St, Stevens Tavern. No attempt by the police to move them.

Compare and contrast with the treatment of the Countryside Alliance Protesters and the march organised by the EDP which was not allowed even to pass in front of Parliament, never mind stay there.

What distinguishes these cases? Well the Countryside Alliance and EDP events were both formally authorised, while the Tamil demo is not. The other obvious difference is the skin colour of the participants, or is that unduly cynical?

Parhaps I am doing our MPs and police an injustice, though. Maybe while the cameras are down they are clearing the streets. It will be interesting to see what the situation is when they are up again.

Twig said...

What do the Tamils want from the British government?

Tom said...

If only the news media weren't so selective about which protests they cover. Seems like you have to cause some real trouble to get on TV these days. All well and good for airport anarchists and workless anti-capitalism loons, but it seems unfair to me on the genuinely peaceful protestors who have a really worthwhile issue they want to bring to people's attention without disrupting their lives.

Primly_Stable said...

I imagine the Countryside Alliance got a good kicking from the police because they tried (successfully, in one case) to storm Parliament rather than simply standing around outside annoying cabbies.

Obviously much easier to cite inverse racisim on the part of the Za-Nu-Lie-Bore Police State, though, this being the interweb and everything.

As for the cameras being turned off "to hide police brutality", have you ever tried to use the traffic cams to check on traffic? The quality is awful and they're not zoomed in at all, they just show a whole roundabout or whatever. There's no way you'd be able to see an individual scrap between one protestor and a policeman in any detail.

Anonymous said...

In the same vein, whilst I'm not usually a Guardian reader (and you probably don't expect to see Grauniad excerpts postsed here very often), this letter of 24 February 2009 deserved greater publicity:

"Last Friday I sat as a JP, judging an unemployed man accused of assaulting a policeman, mostly in view of a council street camera. He had earlier been refused legal aid and the Crown Prosecution Service had denied him advance access to the pictures. He only saw them when we did, during his trial.

He told us that a passerby had also filmed the incident on a mobile. He was right. We saw the photographer on the council tape. The defendant said police had demanded the person's mobile and deleted the pictures. When asked in court, the officer confirmed that this was the case, the reason being to stop police being on YouTube. From the casual way it was agreed in open court, it seems it is normal Met practice to seize mobiles in order to delete pictures involving them.

Our magistrates court was not the forum to question the principle, but should London police be destroying evidence that might help courts come to a proper decision? And is it reasonable that the only film evidence made available is that which the arresting officers have seen and which has been denied the accused until the last minute?

If we are to have a surveillance society, perhaps the watching should be both ways - monitoring officials as well as the public.

Simon Neave"

davidc said...

is it a criminal offence to tamper with evidence of a possible crime ?

in which case is a police officer ordering deletion of photos or video committing an offence ?

Salmondnet said...

Primly_Stable: The Countryside Alliance successfully infiltrated Parliament, they did not successfully storm it. Further, as an eyewitness though not an alliance supporter I can confirm that they were kept behind barriers preventing them from blocking Whitehall, Bridge Street or Parliament Street. Further, I repeat, the Countryside Alliance had complied with the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the Tamils have not. They are engaged in a straightforwardly illegal demonstration.

No, perhaps this is not inverse racism. The prima facie evidence, however, is that it is. Probably not directly on the part of the police, but in their expectation of what their political masters will back. As of 10.45 this morning they were not enforcing the law against the Tamils while they did so extremely robustly when facing the Countryside Alliance.

Many more people than cabies are affected, including MPs, who are usually extremely touchy about protesters coming directly up to the gates of Westminster (as they were this morning).

moorlandhunter said...

After the barrage of criticism, abuse and down right lies on the part of some with much of the video evidence taken out of context, the Met should stand back and do nothing to any protestors in the future. I even heard one G20 protestor illegally in a squat where they were planning their violence, moaning to the IPPC that he was shouted at when the Police forced their way in for FFS.
The Tamils should be able, thanks to the Police detractors, to do as they wish, damage what they wish, maim who they wish without any Police intervention at all. By acting this way the left and those who think anarchist demos are happy feely parties, will get their way and the Police will become the ‘people’s’ Police and turn their back on them.
A few violent protestors get a thump by a Police Shield and they act as if they had been slashed with a knife, and still we hear the continued prejudgement of Tomlinson’s death. If the Police man who pushed him is ever charged with an offence he will rightly in my view walk free because of the amount of bias already in the press. No jury member will ever give him a fair trail the verdict is already in.
Let the people have the Police they want, and let the Tamils do as they wish, after all it’s what the public want, the Police not to Police demos.

picador said...

It is a very pertinent question you ask Iain.

None of the CCTV cameras were working in Stockwell Underground Station on the day that Jean Charles de Menezenes was executed.

Coincidence? Hardly

Drakken54 said...

Who needs CCTV?

If you look at the BBC clip entitled "Tamils break through police lines" which is currently (1638 20/4/09) on the BBC News front page you will see a police officer kicking protesters. It happens about half way through the clip and the officer is second from the right.

With footage like this my attitude to the police is changing on a daily basis.

Is this REALLY how police should be handling protests (not riots...protests)??

Mr G Public said...

Iain,
The point of cctv cameras is that they are required to protect the citizen by deterring police offices from violently attacking people.
If they did not exist then the police would be murdering far more citizens than they currently do.
So your premise is false, they do work, just not in the way you imagine.

JuliaM said...

"If they did not exist then the police would be murdering far more citizens than they currently do."

Note to self: buy more shares in tinfoil producing company...

neil craig said...

I suspect Iain is right about the reason they weren't working. CCTV cameras can act in both sides of the civil liberty question but only if they are not censored by one side. Control of CCTV should be taken from the police & handed to an entirely new body who would obviously liase with the police but not be accountable to them or have their traditions.