Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It seems you can go to England to experience China...
Britain's Police State: London arrests based on CCTV identification. Britain adopts Chinese model of policing protest?
by Nathan Allonby
CCTV has led to large scale arrests, following the recent student protests in London, over increased tuition fees. A total of over 180 people have been arrested, with the majority identified by CCTV.
The current arrests very much represent a landmark - we are now equipped for the Chinese approach to public order, in almost a complete reversal previous British policing.
The power of the new system is based on the ability to track down individuals at leisure. However, this ability could be used as easily to track anyone, in “political policing” of lawful democratic activity...
Police had been criticised for their handling of the protests, particularly the tactic of “kettling“, where large groups - hundreds - of demonstrators were confined for several hours and not allowed to leave until late at night. It was argued that this tactic actually caused violence, and punished many who had done nothing wrong. Similar criticisms were made when this tactic was used at the G20 protests in London last year.
Here is the contrast: - previously, almost all the arrests would have taken place at the scene, to remove trouble-makers from the fray, to de-escalate the situation, not afterwards, to “settle scores“. Now, everything has changed.
The combination of these two new tactics - containment and surveillance - has parallels with handling of large disturbances by Chinese authorities: - rather than attempt to make arrests at the scene, the police merely contain the disturbance to limit any damage; CCTV photography is used to identify individuals within the crowd, who are then arrested later, at their homes...