Dear Dirty America


Surveillance Society: One Nation Under CCTV

February 27
18:30 2012
Perthshire, Scotland

A few years ago a relative of mine stopped his car in the centre of one of our larger towns. He had seen a man collapse in the street. After checking the man over, who was conscious, he decided to take him to Accident and Emergency.


On arrival, he was met by two police officers. They wanted to know what he was up to. He asked how they had known what had happened and how they knew where he was. He was told that the whole episode had been captured on CCTV. He was stunned. How could a relatively small town be so saturated with covert surveillance? Where had the authority come from? It didn’t make him feel safe. It made him feel afraid!

I’m sure something similar has happened to a few of you out there. Since 2000, there has been a huge increase in filmed surveillance in the UK. As usual, this is all in the name of security. International terrorism is the reason, we are told. It is always the same. We, the Government, want to protect you, the populous, from evil! This is utter garbage. The powers that be just want to make sure we are where they think we are meant to be. And, of course, where we are not meant to be!


There are cameras everywhere. On buildings, on lampposts and, startlingly, mobile surveillance units! What are the authorities afraid of? I can’t believe there is much of a terrorism threat in rural Perthshire.

Surveillance has become much more sophisticated since the 1970s. I can remember a few mad weeks in 1973, when a suspected IRA cell was living in my home village. The village was small. Didn’t even have a horse! These Irish guys had arrived to work on a roads project. They were a great laugh, and drank in the local pub.

After a while we noticed the local policeman was spending more time in the pub. Not in uniform though. Nobody gave it much thought. He always liked a drink. One night he appeared with another guy. I recognized him as another policeman. Well, they were obviously keeping an eye on the Irishmen.

As the night wore on, drink flowed freely. To cut a long night short, the Irish guys had cottoned on to the “undercover” cops, and began plying them with more and more whisky. Eventually the two cops were carried out of the pub, paralysed with drink!

Terrorists one…police nil.


After this debacle, nothing more was seen of the police and the Irish guys finished their work and went home. Changed days indeed.

Credit: Chris Whippet

At the moment it is estimated that there is 1 CCTV camera for every 32 people in Britain! A frightening statistic. This has been allowed to happen because of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, also known as RIPA.

This act was meant to be used specifically for the purposes of antiterrorism. As usual with a badly written law, it is now being used for purposes not originally intended. Local authorities are able to use the act to mount surveillance operations without challenge. These operations include covert surveillance on dog fouling, or checking that householders aren’t putting the wrong trash in the wrong bin!

Parents watched to make sure they aren’t enrolling their children in schools outside their correct districts. Trash is gone through. Mail and phone calls are intercepted. As far as I know, flytipping isn’t on any list of terrorist activities!

No one is safe from the authorities anymore.

There is also a national DNA database with 7% of the population already on it, compared with the USA’s 0.5% of population on their own database.

House of Lords, 02/2012. Surveillance: Citizens and the state (name of report). House of Lords Constitution committee. The committee warns that the database could be used for “malign purposes.”


November 2006. Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas: “Dataveillance”. Credit card, mobile phone and Loyalty card information plus CCTV all being monitored. US agencies monitor telecommunicated traffic passing through Britian.

During the recent London riots, suspects were identified by facial recognition software in CCTV cameras. Motorists are under constant surveillance from cameras on street corners, motorway bridges, flyovers and police vehicles. Number plate recognition technology means a vehicle can be tracked from Land’s End to John O Groats!

The costs of all this official spying are immense. A four year approximation of costs is 515 million pounds. That would pay for 4000 extra police on the beat. These are only Council cameras! There is now an out of control surveillance culture here. Little or no regulation. There are an estimated 4 million cameras in use in the UK. The exact number of cameras is “not known” due to lack of proper scrutiny.


I know we live in dangerous times, but we are all watched far too much.  It is not for our own good, that’s for sure! Orwell wrote of Big Brother, Well folks, it’s here now. We are all under surveillance. Under the thumb of an ugly dictatorship badly disguised as democratic.

We have to be aware of governments intentions. They aren’t benevolent, that’s for sure. Let them know we know! Tell them they will not win.The people and democracy must prevail!

Michael J Blair can be reached at:

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