Met's new surveillance technology trialled at Climate Camp

About the author

Guy Aitchison is co-editor of openDemocracy's UK blog, OurKingdom, and a PhD student in politics at UCL.

So, this year's Climate Camp is on Blackheath common in south-east London, the same common on which Wat Tyler gathered his army of poll tax rebels before marching on London in 1381. The police are apparently keeping a fairly low-key presence and letting the campers get on with it, though it remains to be seen how long this gentle "community policing" approach lasts once property interests are threatened as part of the direct action that's being planned. As expected, the Met's surveillance units are a lurking presence. A cherry picker has been erected in the middle of the camp with spot lights and cameras mounted on it (follow the link for a picture) with the feed apparently being monitored from nearby. In addition, FIT officers have a covert new piece of technology to aid them in their task of filming peaceful protesters, sorry,  "domestic extremists". Several of the officers, who usually wear high-vis jackets and carry cameras, had small badge-sized CCTV cameras attached to their jackets (see this pic by Marc Valee). When I saw this I was going to make a sarcastic comment along the lines of "what kind of 'community' has this level of surveillance?" until I paused to think: in New Labour's Britain the answer is "Almost all of them!"