Council meetings secretly filmed by security spies

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.

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One Response to “Council meetings secretly filmed by security spies”

  1. OldRaver says:

    Don’t know about this but it doesnt surprise me. Elected officials in this country are more than happy to dispense with any notion of democracy as and when they can. I don’t believ they actually like people.

    Mark Harper MP called a meeting at 24 hours notice with his constituents to discuss the White Paper on forest sell-offs. The room (in a local library) could only hold about 100 people with some three hundred standing outside in the rain. He tried to claim that this was a debate and no decisions had been made but the, generally mature and informed audience were not having his nonsense. Things reached such a pitch that he called for a police getaway van and disappeared into the night. He called the attendees a bunch of rabble.

    Harper has consistently refused to meet with his constituents. He voted on the passage of the original paper despite trying to tell his constituents he wanted to ‘hear their comments’. Local people accuse him of being a party stooge. Which he is.

    One funny part of the meeting occured when an elderly woman asked about how he could communicate with people who didn’t have a computer – the area has very poor IT connects and nothing is happening to change things – Harper replied that he would post a link on his website for them!!

    Democracy and the UK do not go together. Mark Harper no longer replies to my letters presumably because he doesn’t think he has to respond to clear, concise questions on our democracy. He is a minister in the Cabinet Office with a remit on constitutional change ( of all things!!).

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