02 August 2009

If You Have Nothing to Hide...

Er, shouldn't this utter insanity be sounding one or two alarm bells...please?


Thousands of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.

The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Desite certain protestations to the contrary, isn't this rather clearly a total surveillance society, complete with jack-booted "security" guards? Why not just call them "Security Services" - "SS" for short - and be done with it?

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13 comments:

Roger Lancefield said...

I tweeted this in alarm a few days back. What is there to prevent "scope creep"? Next up, people who eat and drink too much (for their own good you understand), pre-terrorists (e.g. citizens trying to prevent their village becoming an approach path to an international airport), political "dissenters" (the author of this blog ;-), international counterfeiters and "pirates" (file sharers), etc. etc. etc.

glyn moody said...

Exactly. It shows how terrifyingly numb people have become that they don't shout "enough!" to this kind of step. Truly, we are stuffed....

Roger Lancefield said...

And the nearest thing we have to an "Enough!" button we now have to apply in advance for permission to use!

glyn moody said...

Indeed.

Anonymous said...

I shall have to have my pre prandal secreted in a brown paper bag. p

Trevor Mendham said...

I've been trying to track this down and suspect the press are confused. Here's how I understand it:

Yes, Balls called for an extension of "Family Intervention Projects" (FIPs). Looking here at the toolkit doc, FIPS appear to be flexible. One option is a "Residential Family Centre". These are described here. Standard 9 of the pdf on that page talks about using CCTV in the centre. Then there's this report about CCTV being placed in a bedroom in a centre.

So: 1) Balls wants more FIPs. 2) Some FIPS use residential centres. 3) Residential centres may use CCTV in the centre 4) One case has been reported of staff abusing this use of CCTV in one centre

From which the press has drawn a sensationalist headline.

Of course it's possible that I'm wrong and the press are right. The really scary thing is that we've come so far I wouldn't be completely surprised if they were.

glyn moody said...

Thanks for doing that work. Let's just hope they're not kite-flying....

The Mad Hatter said...

And that's a problem. We are all so cynical about government, and the stupidity that it gets up to, that we believe that government would do this, even if it's not doing it now.

glyn moody said...

I think cynicism's OK, provided it leads to activism, not defeatism. We should use it as a spur to change things.

Mushin said...

The clarification by Trevor clearly put it in perspective. And the idea is not too bad...
And since your going to fall all over yourself to prove me wrong you might as well describe an alternative to this kind of social pressure that actually might help to discipline people long enough so that they can gain the power to discipline themselves enough to feed their children on time...

Dammit; it seems to have eluded the ones that are so afraid the government is going to abuse this (which is absolutely worth fighting against) that this is to accomplish two things:
a) leave the children in the families and
b) take care that they get the minimum care

Any realistic alternatives to close social control anyone?

glyn moody said...

You're right, we need to come up with alternatives.

So, making this up as I go along, how about something along the following lines?

Getting family (and maybe friends) involved to help these people? Paying (yes, with money) both those with problems and those helping out for results: in other words, using carrots, not just sticks. That is, trying to encourage social cohesion, rather than imposing Big Brother to sort it out.

Surely this is a matter of trying to break the circles of ignorance and deprivation? - something that CCTV cameras will never achieve.

Mushin said...

That sounds like a great possibility and I think I would go for that. I see the possibility of nepotism, though, and extreme intransparency; but it is probably prefferable to the BB variant of social control.

glyn moody said...

@Mushin: you're absolutely right, those are real dangers. My initial reaction would be that transparency would help avoid them: if everything is being done in a way that can be seen, even if only retrospectively, I think people will behave better.

The UK MPs' expenses scandal shows how people react to sunlight, striving to show themselves in the best light when they know people are looking.