Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Anywhere, Everywhere, We Are Being Watched

Womble on Tour had a very nice day in Newport on Saturday. In the pouring rain. Didn’t think that was possible ? Well, it is when you’re a football-mad lunatic and your team wins 4-1 away from home playing in a higher league for the first time. One thing though put a little shiver down my spine, and it wasn’t the weather.

Midway through the second half we were standing on the terraces, minding our own business and singing our hearts out. Normal fan behaviour. Quite out of the blue, the police starting filming us. It was a pretty low budget production; one officer with a camera on his shoulder, walking along the touchline in front of the supporters, filming the faces. Owing to the fact that Wimbledon were winning and all seemed right with the world, no one seemed much bothered. But I didn’t care for it much.

For one thing, I just couldn’t work out why there were doing it. There was no trouble, no poor behaviour, and no hint of any either. Just 1,000 people standing, watching their team and cheering them on. And this was deep into the second half. If the police were looking for local troublemakers planting themselves in amoungst our our fans, there should have been doing it at the start, not with twenty minutes to go. I almost got the impression that the police were doing this simply because they could, not for any reason of protecting us.

I should probably just point out something out for the benefit of anyone who still thinks that all football fans are thugs who should be locked up on sight. The days of widespread hooliganism are long, long gone. Football grounds are different places these days from the confrontational bear pits of the 70s and 80s, and the atmosphere is much changed. Moreover, for reasons that are too complex to go into here, Wimbledon is no longer a Premiership club, but a semi-professional one, playing against teams who are usually watched by no more than a few hundred. Sure, there have been “moments” over the past few years, but nothing that justifies such close observation from the authorities.

We’re used to the “surveillance society”, of course. We get filmed on CCTV hundreds of times per day. So do our families, our cars and for that matter our pets. But that usually happens through static, “permanent” cameras which are (so we’re told) erected to deter and detect criminal behaviour in places where it is thought likely to occur. This seemed different somehow. It was a specific, deliberate act of filming on what appeared to me to be a wholly innocent group of people. Why would the police want to film a group of individuals where there is quite obviously no law being broken and no threat ? How long do they keep the pictures for, and whom do they give them to ? Given the government’s appalling record on data security, how do we know where video images end up ?

I used to belong to the school of thought that said “If you keep on the right side of the law you have nothing to fear from surveillance”. Now I’m not so sure. It’s gone too far. The State should have no interest in recording the innocent behaviour of law-abiding people, and they should not be allowed to do it.


Carshalton Don said...

No I didnt much like it either. He looked like he was bored or training or something. Also it was Gwent police not the Kingston lot - not sure if that makes any difference.

DO people still trot out that stupid "If you've nothing to hide...." argument ? Funny how they always shrink away when I offer to put a webcam in their bedroom.

Shades said...

Why not ask them for the footage of you and womblet under the freedom of information act? That'll keep the bastards busy...

CarshaltonDon said...

Already have !

Expecting to receive some 'crime prevention' piffle or a denial of disclosure under same.

Carshalton Don said...

Gwent Police provided a number of police officers to support the policing of the football match between Newport County and Wimbledon.
Over the last few months, Gwent Police has worked closely with Newport County to ensure that there is no repeat of violence, previously seen at football matches. This includes additional Stewards being provided by the Football Club which is supported by Gwent Police.
Officers are deployed into Football Stadiums with video cameras for the purposes of evidence gathering, in the event of public disorder. The officers are overt in their methods and it also provides reassurance to the fans.

The Video recording is kept for 7 years in line with our existing policy for retention of recordings. The recording is retained in a secure property store, with restricted access it is a hard video cassette.

cj said...

Big brother is watching - and they’re at it again - The liberal paternalists are proposing to ban the display of tobacco in shops and are currently soliciting the opinion of their electorate.

Banishing cigarettes will cost ordinary taxpayers more money, inconvenience thousands of consumers, and threaten the livelihoods of shopkeepers all over the UK.

I’m sick and tired of more of the same from Nanny - obsessed with dictating how people live their lives but brushing the big issues, like knife crime and recession, under the carpet. They’re planning to hide tobacco, and they are already policing alcohol, red meat, fatty foods, and salt to name a few.

I’m sick of seeing pubs closing down where I live. I’m sick of being made to feel guilty because I eat and drink as I please.

I’m sick of Nanny. How about you? Register your support - Say NO to the Nanny State