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London Police Seek To Install CCTV In Pubs 293

Posted by timothy
from the well-they-do-call-it-a-public-house dept.
JCWDenton writes "The Met Police got a short sharp rap over the knuckles yesterday, as the Office of the Information Commissioner questioned what looks very much like a blanket policy to force CCTV onto public houses in certain parts of London. The story begins with a letter to the Guardian last week, from Nick Gibson. He is currently renovating Islington pub The Drapers Arms, after its previous owners allowed it to go insolvent and then disappeared. In his letter, he argues that if he had merely taken over an existing licence, the police could not have imposed any additional conditions. However, because this was now a new licence, the police were able to make specific requests, including one particular request in respect of installing CCTV."
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London Police Seek To Install CCTV In Pubs

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  • by mdm42 (244204) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @04:45AM (#26947359) Homepage Journal

    Install the camera, but switch off its power-supply, or spray-paint the lense, or...

    You get the idea. As long as their wording is so vague as to simply stipulate "install... a camera" it seems pretty simple to me.

    'Course its trickier if they're more specific about the camera's operation, data connections, power-supply, etc.

    • FTA

      "I was stunned to find 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 upon request."

      Capturing the head (and shoulders?) of everyone who walked into the bar is fairly specific. Of course, you could interpret that as "The cameras must behead (and beshoulder?) everyone who walks into the bar" but I think that would be bad for buisness as well...

      You could still get away with using an extremely low resolution or out of focus camera that would show heads (and shoulders) but not anything identifyable. Of course they'd remedy that quickly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smoker2 (750216)
        Oddly, that quote only appears in the Register not in the Gruniad, where the letter was supposedly first sent.
    • by MrNaz (730548) * on Sunday February 22, 2009 @05:38AM (#26947531) Homepage

      Do that, and it's just a matter of time until they fix whatever loophole allowed you to disable it while following the letter. If you disagree in principle, then fight the principle, not the letter. Even if you beat the letter, their principle remains in law, and will bite you in the ass next time round.

    • by Kagura (843695)

      Install the camera, but switch off its power-supply, or spray-paint the lense, or...

      You get the idea. As long as their wording is so vague as to simply stipulate "install... a camera" it seems pretty simple to me.

      At least one guy modded you 'interesting' somehow, but this sort of defense would not avail you, Flame of Udun.

      Check out this previous Slashdot story from two weeks ago, entitled You Are Not A Lawyer [slashdot.org]. ;)

  • saw that done (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thermian (1267986)

    They did that to a pub in my town (UK) once. Granted it was a really dodgy pub that most people avoided.

    The result though was not only did the known nasty types stop going there, no-one else wnet there either, because we knew there were cameras in it.

    Its since closed and reoppened under new ownership, a gay bar I beleive, sans cameras. I suspect the change in customer focus is because even though its almost ten years later, its still remembered by most as the pub that had cctv everywhere.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I much as I dislike being filmed all the time, I must call bullshit on this. I live in England and worked for four years in a pub that had CCTV and it did not detour one customer.

      • I live in England and worked for four years in a pub that had CCTV and it did not detour one customer.

        I guess you reached this scientifically valid result by asking the people who were drinking there. The question is, did it detour (I mean deter) any potential customers? Selection bias, look it up.

    • Re:saw that done (Score:4, Interesting)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @06:26AM (#26947683)

      It's not exactly unusual for pubs to have CCTV, like anonymous, I call BS.

      • by thermian (1267986)

        It's not exactly unusual for pubs to have CCTV, like anonymous, I call BS.

        I'll bet its unusual to have individual and undisguised cctv camaras pointed at every table and cubicle. I've not known it be as bad as the pub in question. I'm disregarding the usual unobtrusive cctv presence.

        Not that I wish to detract from your obvious need to refute my claim, after all, thats half the fun of slashdot, or all of it, for you...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

          Not at all. Most pubs install discreet cctv of their own volition *especially* to places like out of the way cubicles.

          It gets silently recorded, and most of the time eventually discarded.. but if something happens it's invaluable evidence.

          It's been years since I've seen a city centre pub without its own CCTV in the entrance ways to watch people coming in. This is a non-story, really.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      They did that to a pub in my town (UK) once. Granted it was a really dodgy pub that most people avoided.

      The result though was not only did the known nasty types stop going there, no-one else wnet there either, because we knew there were cameras in it.

      Its since closed and reoppened under new ownership, a gay bar I beleive, sans cameras. I suspect the change in customer focus is because even though its almost ten years later, its still remembered by most as the pub that had cctv everywhere.

      You don't happen to

  • Priva ground ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @04:54AM (#26947387)
    Since when can police install camera on private ground or private shop ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      Council has to approve a new business. They consult the police about security and thew police ask for CCTV.
    • by abigsmurf (919188)

      Try to run a pub without an alcohol licence, see what happens. If it's known that the pub causes a lot of trouble, the police can set conditions otherwise they'll strip their licence. A pub that lets clients get heavily drunk , violent and cause problems for the town.

      They can't make them put in a camera but they have a very strong way of persuading them. One of the conditions of getting an alocohol licence is ensuring your customers aren't a nuisance.

    • Re:Priva ground ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:40AM (#26947909) Journal

      >>>Since when can police install camera on private ground or private shop ?

      Ever since the politicians redefined "private shop" as "public facility" and thereby extended antidiscrimination laws over stores, bars, hotels, et cetera. And now they are extending their power even further. If they can force you to stop discriminating against blacks or females, then they can also force you to meet other requirements - like installing cameras.

      Again as 1984 demonstrated, redefine words to extend power. Your store may be privately owned, but it's now a "public facility" under the law and therefore must meet whatever rules the politicians decide, almost the same as if it were publicly owned.

  • He should ask them to reconsider if he promises to sell beer and not stock gin.

  • At least (Score:2, Funny)

    by oever (233119)

    now we know the reason for the ban on smoking in pubs.

    • by mikael (484)

      Worse than that - people are banned from wearing "obstructive headwear".

      Flat-caps as traditionally worn by the most senior members of the community are banned.

      There was a case where a women suffering from alopecia was denied entry unless she removed her hat.

      The real problem is with "hoodies", but the Police can't be seen to be discriminating against a single ethnic group so they target the easy to pick on groups instead.

      And they wonder why people are voting BNP?

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @06:13AM (#26947639) Homepage

    ... a lengthy rebuttal of the hopeless summary, but then I noticed it was the UK-hating Timothy that posted.

    Timothy, why do you feel the need to misrepresent every story about the UK in the worst possible light? Did you even read the article in question?

    Perhaps you should. The police aren't installing CCTV cameras in pubs. One police chief is recommending to the licensing board that grants licences to pubs that they require new licensees to fit CCTV. The police would not have access to the CCTV unless they came down and requested the tapes (or more likely DVR drive, these days).

    Now - here's the important bit - are you paying attention? They were told that they couldn't do that. Let's just say that again to make sure you've got it - the police were told that they could not ask the licensing board to make installing CCTV a condition of the licence.

    So, in fact, the police are *not* installing CCTV in pubs, for several different reasons.

    It's called literacy, Timothy. You should try it.

    • you did post... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zuki (845560) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:01AM (#26947773) Journal

      The row comes a week after a House of Lords report stated that the steady expansion of the "surveillance society" risked undermining fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy.

      Peers said that Britain, with an estimated 4m CCTV cameras in use, had constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world in the name of combating terrorism and crime and improving administrative efficiency.

      However, the cross-party committee warned that "pervasive and routine" electronic surveillance was almost taken for granted adding that privacy is an "essential prerequisite to the exercise of individual freedom".

      Lord Goodlad, the former Conservative chief whip and committee chairman, said that there could be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about an individual being recorded and pored over by the state.

      "The huge rise in surveillance and data collection by the state and other organisations risks undermining the long-standing traditions of privacy and individual freedom which are vital for democracy," he said.

      Well, undeniably the UK has slowly let itself become dominated by the mentality that maintaining a grid of CCTV cameras is the answer to reducing 'crime' and 'terrorism', and constantly stoking those fears in the public to allow for this 'creep' against personal privacy.

      Funny when one looks at the statistics, but being that so many, many more people die of preventable car accidents and of heart attacks from eating too much junk food, why is it that the same expenditures aren't lavished on those areas?

      Simple.

      Arguably, there are many who sense that it has little to do with protecting the lives of citizens, but rather far more to do with the government jealously guarding its symbol of 'authority' and not wanting to lose face... If the goverment's mission was to truly protect the constituency (rather than its own authority), I imagine a lot of things would be done differently.

      There is such a thing as the amount of acceptable risk one takes by doing everyday things like going to a pub, walking in the street and such. It is very telling, however, that these sorts of ideas are constantly being floated by the police, as in the example of some UK clubs having to submit an application form in advance listing the names and addresses of the artists and performers scheduled to appear, as well as style of music, in order to be allowed to have dance music event without being shut down.

      Death by a thousand paper cuts of bureaucracy, which in the end doesn't truly prevent anything, but most certainly sets an aura of hysteria around every aspect of everyday life.

      Z.

      • Funny when one looks at the statistics, but being that so many, many more people die of preventable car accidents and of heart attacks from eating too much junk food, why is it that the same expenditures aren't lavished on those areas?

        You go on to say that it's based around the government's desire for "authority" but I don't think this is true - the government is not incompetent or evil enough for this.

        I think people are genuinely more fearful of being knifed in the street, intimidated by threatening teena

        • Even if it's true that you're more likely to die of bad nutrition than getting knifed by hoodies, people's perception of risk isn't rational. Just look at how many nervous flyers there are, even though it's safer than driving.

          Fear of crime is a big quality of life issue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe (36238)
          I am a big fan of CCTV and the like

          In which case you presumably wouldn't mind it installed in your living room. Care to post your address and I'm sure some /. volunteers will be round soon to install...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Well, undeniably the UK has slowly let itself become dominated by the mentality that maintaining a grid of CCTV cameras is the answer to reducing 'crime' and 'terrorism', and constantly stoking those fears in the public to allow for this 'creep' against personal privacy.

        Really? Because most of the articles I see in the mainstream press here about CCTV cameras in public places take one of two angles:

        • They're expensive and don't work.
        • They're an invasion of privacy.

        Generally the right-leaning papers take the first line (taxpayers' money being wasted) while the left-leaning ones take the second. I can't think of anything I've read supporting them for a long time, unless you count the BBC who say things like 'privacy activists have raised these complaints' and 'concerns h

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:28AM (#26947851) Homepage Journal

      Umm.. JCWDenton wrote the summary. Timothy is just the Slashdot "editor" who selects the high voted stories from the firehose, checks that it is in the right category and, maybe, that it has a link, and then pushes it to subscribers so they can tell him if it is a dupe.. and after 20 minutes or so, it goes live. He's in no way responsible for the summary, or the popularity of the story due to that selection.. if you don't like what is getting through to the front page, go to the firehose and vote. Maybe it would be nice if Timothy did read the story and did some fact checking or whatever, but that's not what Slashdot "editors" are paid to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lawrence_Bird (67278)

      And you are clearly naive if you don't see the very real concern that the police were a) trying to do this and b)believe they wouldn't make every opportunity of getting tapes.

      There was nothing wrong with the summary. The police want to get the cameras installed. They tried and they failed.. this time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hadlock (143607)

      I don't disagree with what you say, but you're refusing to acknowledge the slippery slope argument. If you have enough police chiefs asking pubs and other regulated businesses to add CCTV "for their protection" as part of their licensing scheme, eventually one is going to relent and then you have your legal precedent to do this in other pubs when their license comes up for renewal.

      Yes, it is a little sensationalistic, but a) If you shame public figures into not making such requests, hopefully they'l

  • by bryanp (160522) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:27AM (#26947845)

    Yeah, those islands. That's where Great Britain used to be. A shame, really.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wild_quinine (998562)

      Yeah, those islands. That's where Great Britain used to be. A shame, really.

      FYI, 'Great Britain' is just the name for the big island, the one with England, Scotland, and Wales. It's 'Great' as in 'big' not 'awesome' as you can, by now, probably tell.

      The 'United Kingdon' includes GB, Northern Ireland, and a large number of itty bitty bitesize islands.

  • by msimm (580077) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:23AM (#26948057) Homepage
    someone got drunk and made a wager to out-do the Americans? Seriously, as many times as I ask myself what's going on in my own country, I find myself looking at bizarre stories like this that my own countries weird puritanical/mega-business playbook fails to explain.

    Our countries agenda seems to mostly be simple, business at all cost, with a good dose of racism (terrorists!), protectivism (teh fearz!) and homophobia, masqueraded naturally as Gods will (OMG! they wantz deh pinux!).

    It's almost like you're over there trying to make me feel better, but I know enough to know you're as intelligent and concerned about your rights as we are.
    • by jabithew (1340853)

      but I know enough to know you're as intelligent and concerned about your rights as we are.

      Actually, the majority here supported 90 days detention [wikipedia.org] without charge for terrorist suspects.

      Perhaps, on reflection, you're right.

  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#26948597) Homepage

    If someone named Ford walks in claiming the world is about to end, we can snag him before he leaves us all to die.

    Fucking wanker.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by yoshi_mon (172895)

      (Score:3, Insightful)

      What is it lately with people modding things that are clearly going for 'funny' with other tags.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rts008 (812749)

        To throw some karma love on the poster. For example:

        Make a comment, get modded '+1-Funny'== no karma change for the poster. Mod '+1 insightful, informative, or interesting' ==build some positive karma points for poster.

        Not saying it is right, but for those that think there should be positive karma for funny comments, it acts as a work around.

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