MI5 and UK police groom thousands to spy on public
Monday, March 23, 2009
MI5 is currently training up to 60,000 UK citizens as part a civilian network of terrorist spotters, according to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and home secretary, Jacqui Smith.
Details of the initiative were revealed yesterday as part of the British Government’s new £3.5bn a year counter-terrorist framework known as “Contest Two”.
Writing in the London Observer yesterday, Gordon Brown outlined how large numbers of staff on rail networks, at airports, shopping centres, public buildings and sports venues are already being groomed by MI5 and the police and trained to watch for “suspicious behaviour”.
“We should be under no illusion that the biggest security threat to our country and other countries is the murderous agents of hate that work under the banner of al-Qaida,” Brown wrote.
“Today, not only the police and security and intelligence officers and our armed forces, but also the emergency services, local councils, businesses and community groups are involved in state-of-the-art civil contingency planning,” he continued.
“Tens of thousands of men and women throughout Britain – from security guards to store managers – have now been trained and equipped to deal with an incident and know what to watch for as people go about their daily business in crowded places such as stations, airports, shopping centres and sports grounds.”
Further reports have indicated that the training also involves evacuation and crowd-control procedures.
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, commented;
“What we’re completely clear about is that if we’re going to address the threat from terrorism, we need to do that alongside the 60,000 people that we’re now training up to respond to a terrorist threat, in everywhere from our shopping centres to our hotels. This is no longer something you can do behind closed doors and in secret.”
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The initiative continues the government’s trend of utilising the public and their jobs as part of so called strategies against terrorism and crime.
For several years now, reports have consistently emerged concerning the ongoing move to hand over new powers enacted under anti-terrorism legislation to town hall bureaucrats and lowly council workers.
Last year it also emerged that state and private sector employees are being encouraged to apply for Home Office accreditation, which effectively arms them with sweeping police-style powers, allowing them to demand identification and hand out fines for a raft of offences, from dropping litter to riding a bike on the pavement.
A similar strategy is even being implemented to deal with so called “green offences“, as citizens snoopers are being employed to report litter louts, dog foulers and even people who fail to sort out their rubbish properly. Over 50% of councils have admitted to using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day.
Privacy campaigners have compared the trend to the activities of the ‘Stasi’ – the infamous East German secret police.
This article was posted: Monday, March 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm