Yesterday the Ham & High newspaper revealed that security officers for Barnet Council have been wearing hidden cameras to spy on residents and “amass evidence”.
The cameras were used as officers patrolled town hall meetings and guarded council property, including at a budgetary meeting in March where seven officers from the firm MetPro prevented members of the public from entering the building.
One 85-year-old resident told the paper the security staff were an “intimidating presence” who created a “menacing element” in the meeting room. He compared the officers to Hitler’s SS force, and added, ‘I had no sense of being involved in a democratic occasion whatsoever.’
Apparently MetPro’s secretary Kevin Sharkey drove up to a resident’s forum in a blacked-out security car and ‘boasted of filming residents and monitoring blog and twitter activity’ at the March meeting.
Barnet council responded to the article by claiming they did not authorise the cameras and have since terminated their contract with the firm, which has been in place since 2006. A spokesperson said: ‘Unlike some other London boroughs, the setting of the budget in Barnet at cabinet and council was held with the public present and at the advertised time and place.’
As campaign group Big Brother Watch points out, the company still carries testimonials from Barnet council on its website.