Archives for posts with tag: CCTV


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,540

Thursday 01 September 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

From today people now need a license to watch BBC iPlayer, live or catch-up, and for all live viewing and recording, no matter which channel we are watching or what device we are watching on.

As someone who has no interest in watching television I refuse to participate in the BBC’s game of being guilty until proved innocent. I have for years now refused to allow television license ‘enforcement officers’ into my home stating that it is not my duty to prove my innocence, it is their job to prove my guilt.

Although the presumption of innocence has taken a beating with, not least, the escalation of on the spot fines, and CCTV cameras everywhere, it remains that the burden of proof lies with the accuser and not the accused.

The UK Criminal Law Blog seeks to clarify what the presumption of innocence means and has this to say, ‘The defendant bears no burden of proving anything and it is not his task to prove his innocence – There is no obligation for the defendant to do anything at all’. It goes on, ‘A person cannot be imprisoned (or otherwise punished) for a crime unless they have been proven guilty to the required standard’.

Whilst I do not own a television, I do own a personal computer on which televisual content is freely available. It is not my task to provide access to any data which may incriminate me or prove my innocence and I assert my right to privacy without harassment or interference from these so called television license ‘enforcement officers’.

It is the governments task and duty to ensure that the law is upheld, although that is an increasing dubious premise these days, and therefore to monitor the behaviour of the nations public broadcaster.

I call on you to demand the BBC produce, at the very least, a means of blocking BBC iPlayer from personal computers and other digital devices. If this cannot be done then people are going to be subjected to unwarranted and, indeed, unlawful harassment, distress and invasion of privacy. David Cameron said last year, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” No one should be allowed to behave above the law, least of all government, this is intolerable and unacceptable, making an ass of the law.

Innocent until proven guilty…but what does actually mean?


23_december_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,294

Wednesday 23 December 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The presumption of innocence has been steadily eroded over many years. Whether I am correct in thinking that Margaret Thatcher was the author of its demise I’m not sure but she certainly and spectacularly showed her disdain for it as she sent out battalions of state Police mercenary troops to crush the miners who she described as ‘the enemy within’. The police were not used to maintain the peace, they were sent to brutally attack and crush the miners. Under Thatcher (1985) there was also the incredible violence of the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ in which 1,300 militarised police ambushed and brutally assaulted some 450 travellers who were making their way to the 12th annual free festival at Stonehenge.

In 1998 it was reported that spending on CCTV accounted for more than three-quarters of total crime prevention spending. The pernicious growth of CCTV has resulted in a steady erosion of the presumption of innocence, or the rise of what could be called the age of suspicion: the watchers watch and no one is innocent, everyone is fair game.

The ever increasing use of ‘on the spot fines’ has seen an even more disturbing issue: that a punishment can be imposed without due process in law. As Lord Neuberger, the President of the UK Supreme Court, put it, “the laws must satisfy certain requirements; they must enforce law and order in an effective way while ensuring due process, they must accord citizens their fundamental rights against the state, and they must regulate relationships between citizens in a just way.”

The disastrous consequences of the erosion of due process cannot be overstated, underpinning, as it does, the entire debacle we now know as Iain Duncan Smith’s authoritarian and brutal ‘sanctions regime’. Despite Smith’s continued false assertion that sanctions are ‘only ever imposed as a last resort if someone fails to demonstrate reasonable action to find work’, their very existence disposes of the presumption of innocence and due process, denying people their fundamental rights against the state and the regulation of relationships between citizens (Jobcentre staff and claimants) in a just way. When you said, ‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’, that was the expression of government by dictatorship already long in action.

Last December 38,232 people were sanctioned in the run up to Christmas and this year sanctions will affect 80,000 people. ‘The Public and Commercial Services Union said data provided by the Department for Work and Pensions showed 74,000 would lose more than £19million in Jobseeker’s Allowance. And £700,000 in employment and support allowances are being taken away from 6,800 disabled people.’ This is state brutality on an unprecedented scale and I can only wonder how many people, innocent of any crime, will not survive to see the new year.

28_november_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,269

Saturday 28 November 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am sure you know what a Panopticon is – ‘The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.’ (Wikipedia)

The reason I am sure is because we are living in a Virtual Panopticon of the ever more intrusive state. Since the proliferation of CCTV in Britain, the digital age has enabled ever greater intrusions into our lives from hidden watchers. The entirely specious argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about’ does not answer the effects the insidious invasion of hidden observers has on our lives. It ‘nudges’ us in the direction of accepting such invasions and to cease questioning how we feel about that, lowering our guard through their very omnipresence and being given no choice in the matter.

It becomes ever easier to ramp up hidden surveillance by an ever more intrusive state. The Snoopers Charter has raised barely a flutter of protest across the nation except amongst the few who pay close attention to politics and the behaviour of government and ask the question, does government serve the people or do people serve the government? Clearly we have a difference of opinion on that matter as you erode our rights at work and at home. The Trade Union Bill is a direct attack on workers and workers rights just as your plan to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) is an attack on each individual in the UK.

One of the most egregious statements you made just this year was, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” If the law is no longer sufficient to protect us from state intrusion in our lives, Britain has become a totalitarian state, ‘a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible’. Iain Duncan Smiths sanctions regime is a direct attack on people’s right to life (just as Workfare is explicitly forced labour) and far too many lives have already been lost, small wonder you want shot of the HRA.

We have laws because we are moral creatures, were we not the law would be meaningless, in fact we’d be unable to make any laws at all. Within the Virtual Panopticon it becomes the moral duty of each one of us to resist conformity to the dictates of a government gone entirely rogue.


02_june_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,104

Tuesday 02 June 2015. The Tories intend to do what they like to us regardless of the law.

Shares are encouraged and welcomed. If this letter speaks for you and you wish to send your own copy please feel free to use it and alter it for your own needs for your own letter.

Website updated, letters and replies plus bonus material featuring Mr Suggs, Eeyore and Ribbit.

Also on the website, download the support compilation three album set from Atona.

Dear Mr Cameron,

When I was a lad, poking your nose into others people’s business was regarded as extremely rude and offensive.

I think television has much to answer for in the ever growing trend of doing just that. So called Reality TV shows, The Jeremy Kyle Show, poverty porn and so on all encourage the intrusion of public opinion into other people’s lives. It’s certainly true that everyone has a right to their opinion just as I have an equal right not to have it inflicted upon me and to tell them so should they decide to offload it on me.

Since I decided in the early nineties that I no longer wanted a television I have been constantly pestered by the Television Licensing Authority because I do not have a television licence. Their attitude is that if a property is not registered with a licence it is down to the occupier to prove that no television is present and I get regular visits from inspectors, or whatever they are called. I always tell them that under the law I am innocent until proven guilty and that the burden of proof lies with them not me and I send them on their way. So television is responsible for popularising people being downright nosy and opinionated and also of undermining a fundamental rule of law.

Newspapers like the Sun and the Express but in particular the Daily Mail sell, not least, on promoting moral indignation and outrage and are the media equivalent of curtain twitchers revelling in the hypocrisy of their self righteousness. The examples are legion of the imposition of modern intrusiveness which also has to include on the spot fines and CCTV.

But the worst offender by far is your government. People can no longer be workers, they have to be hard workers and benefits recipients are treated as cheaters and shirkers and beaten into submission by being forced to jump through hoops and sanctioned for the most spurious reasons, treated worse than prisoners and deprived of the most basic means of survival.

Your recent announcement was simply sublime, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” Under your government it’s no longer going to be enough to be law abiding, you intend that you can do whatever you like to us. Is it any wonder that you want to scrap the Human Rights Act leaving us without any protection from state intrusion in our lives. All I can say is, expect a robust response because you have absolutely no business doing anything of the sort.