In order to provide adequate security in any country, governments have made " To be forewarned is to be fore-armed ", their policy.
Knowledge is power; that is , knowledge through detailed surveillance.
"Distrust and caution are the parents of security" ~ Benjamin Franklin.
The government of the UK has gone the extra mile and as some would say , even "gone overboard" ; to sniff out and snuff out the society's miscreants and other security problems and nip them in the bud , even before they are hatched!
To this end, fears that the UK would "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" have become a reality.
Researches in the UK have found people's actions are increasingly being monitored.
Researchers have highlighted "dataveillance", the use of credit cards, mobile phones and loyalty cards information, and CCTV.
Monitoring of work rates, travel and telecommunications is also rising.
Today, all over the UK, there is a network system of round-the-clock surveillance of every area and every inch , literally, of the country by law enforcement agencies and other users of surveillance data.
This method of eagle-eye surveillance has met with stiff oppositions or accolades from various sectors of the UK society.
Some of the methods and devices used to maintain an effective network of data collection in the UK are:-
* Automatic Vehicle Registration Plate recognition cameras- speed cameras, traffic enforcement cameras and in London's congestion charging zone.
* Shop RFID tags- Perhaps the most controversial use of RFID to date in the UK was in 2003 when an RFID tracking system was used in the packaging of Gillette Mach3 razor blades to stop shoplifting at one of Tesco's Cambridge branches. Anyone picking up a packet of the blades triggered CCTV surveillance of themselves in the store.
* Mobile phone triangulation - As well as being used to monitor unfaithful spouses, the mobile phone has had a more direct application in crime-fighting.
This has proved crucial in convicting Soham murderer Ian Huntley and Stuart Campbell, who killed teenager Danielle Jones.
* Store loyalty cards -There are anything up to 160 store loyalty card schemes in the UK, collecting information on shoppers.
The biggest scheme, Nectar, collects only data on how much is spent and where and when.
Want to shop online? Well, then you might just have to accept being watched.
* Credit card transactions- Every time we buy something with a credit or debit card we let the firm know where we are and what we are buying.
Information can be held on our spending patterns and also on our reliability as a customer. This can come in useful when an unusual pattern - such as spending a large amount of money in a foreign country - can be used to quickly identify that cloning or theft has taken place.
* London Oyster cards- Introduced on London's public transport network to speed up the flow of passengers, data from the card is already being used by the police.
If a criminal has used his or a stolen Oyster, that can be matched to Tube station CCTV at the same time to establish a link.
*Satellites - Google Earth
No-one outside the military and intelligence community really has any idea of the level of monitoring from the skies.
Other effective means of surveillance of the British populace are through:
* The Electoral roll
* NHS patient records - The government is in the middle of a massive IT project to unite the NHS's various computer systems. Among the most significant developments is the bringing together of patient records on a national database.
Access to the records is carefully restricted, but privacy campaigners worry that the national system could prove vulnerable to security breaches.
* Personal video recorders
* Worker call monitoring
* Worker clocking-in
* Mobile phone cameras
* Internet Cookies- One of the most subtle forms of surveillance is the use of HTTP cookies - small packets of data that are used to communicate between websites and your computer. They are used to set your preferences when you visit a website for a second time and for a host of other reasons.
* Hidden Bugs / Cameras - While phone-tap evidence cannot be used in court, evidence from bugs can.
This venerable method of surveillance was in the news again recently when it was revealed a London restaurant was sweeping for bugs to prevent industrial espionage involving corporate lunches.
* CCTV Cameras- There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people ;making it one of the most watched places on earth. Almost every nook and cranny of villages , towns and cities are policed by a network of CCTV cameras.
Situated in strategic points in every street , all over the country, these amazing cameras provide high quality, colour images of everything and every one within their focus.It is said that they can , even , zoom into your handbag !
CCTV in Britain's streets can trace its genesis back to a limited system set up for the Queen's coronation in 1953. By the 1960s there was permanent CCTV in some London streets. Now there are an estimated four million cameras in the country, viewing us as many as 300 times a day.
CCTV is everywhere. CCTV cameras in stores monitor shoplifters, those in cash machines look for fraud gangs, those on public transport watch vandals and thugs. But they also watch ordinary people at the same time.
Digital CCTV systems can be configured to use face-recognition and look for criminal suspects.
An estimated £500m of public money has been spent on installing CCTV in the last decade.