Serious Organised Crime Agency appointments

| | Comments (21) | TrackBacks (1)

Ok, just for those nice people from a particular public sector organisation, who keep regularly searching Google for "Serious Organised Crime Agency" links, here is a slightly belated comment on the Home Office press release which announced the appointment of Sir Stephen Lander as the new Chair and of Bill Hughes (formerly Director General of the National Crime Squad) as the new Director General, effective from September 2004, even though SOCA will not be operational until 1st April 2006.

Sir Stephen, who retired as the Director General of the Security Service MI5 in 2002, has been a non-executive director of Northgate Information Solutions and a strategic advisor to the "internet security product" startup being set up by the IT consultancy Detica. Both of these companies have substantial IT consultancy and outsourcing contracts with the secret bits of the UK Government.

So who runs the National Crime Squad etc. for the next 18 months ? Will all the experienced officers and technical support staff from the National Crime Squad, from the National Criminal Intelligence Service and from the Her Majesty's Customs and Excise investigations departments etc. end up having to effectively re-apply for their old jobs, with all that implies for loss of morale and reduced operational efficiency, which is so common in large organisational mergers ?

Is the Home Office really capable of the change management and "business process re-engineering" needed, to do this smoothly, or will this be farmed out to the usual suspects amongst the Big Consultancies, a process which inevitably seems to add months to the decision making process about who will still have a job in the new Agency, and to a brain drain of the best people ?

Presumably the "serious organised criminals" will continue to operate in the meantime.

Nowhere have we seen any mention of any independent oversight and complaints procedure which can investigate worries and complaints about the new agency from members of the public.

Our questions about the White Paper "One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Criminals " which sets forth the Home Office's vague plans for SOCA remain.

The questions raised by the Association of Police Authorities also remain c.f. Appendix A(.pdf) of the APA's response to the Home Office regarding governance arrangements for SOCA.

e.g. Who will fund the new Agency: central government funding or a "top slice" from existing local police budgets ? Will, as has been noted with the creation of NCS and NCIS, the effect of national pay grades add to the overal costs, given the natural tendancy to round up pay scales to the highest equivalent grade across the component agencies ?

How will the elitism and resentment problems which are so evident with, for example, the FBI in the USA, when dealing with local police forces be prevented ? Will this situation be even worse in the uK, given that there is no clear distinction in the UK law between "Federal/National" level crimes and "local" ones, like there is in the USA ?

Will there be a "brain drain" of experienced investigators from local Police forces to the new Agency, leaving local Police forces undermanned , whilst at the same time, still often having to target the same organised criminal ?

The APA's note (.pdf) on the stakeholder meeting held in February 2004 seems to reccomend the creation of a Non Departmental Public Body, clearly established by statute, to oversee the new Agency.

How much were the "executive recruitment" company Veredus (formerely PricewaterhouseCoopers Executive Search & Selection and Interim Management) actually paid, given that the they ended up choosing Bill Hughes, the Director General of NCS, who was present as a "stakeholder" at this meeting, to be the new Director General of SOCA ?

Detica might be familiar to readers of this blog in relation to the spin and disinformation which the MORI opinion poll that they paid for about the public attitude to ID Cards created i.e. the misrepresentation of the results of the poll as showing 80% public support, for a scheme where their own poll figures showed that two thirds admitted that they did not actually know the details of what the Home Office was actually proposing, and that most people did not want to pay anything at all as a registration fee, for what would be in effect a poll tax etc.

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Serious Organised Crime Agency appointments.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

The Buncefield fuel depot explosion seems to have flummoxed the Labour Party website spin machine. The old website (see the Google cached versions) was hosted by Northgate Information Solutions, Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP2 7HU. See... Read More


Interesting, isn't it, that the Home Office can announce the appointment of staff to a new agency that has no legal existence? What if Parliament declines to pass the relevant legislation?

(I'm assuming, of course, that we still live in a constitutional democracy where the rule of law prevails and Parliament is the legislative authority.)

Who remembers Tony Blair's slogan "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" these days ?

We seem to be promised a "law and order" election campaign, with each of the main political parties trying to outdo each other with their vague promises.

David Blunkett has allegedly secured legislative timetable slots for 6 Bills in the Queen's Speech in November, so it is likely that Parliament will pass the SOCA legislation in one or other of them.,11026,1274419,00.html

On past form, any opposition will be diverted by other controversial clauses and this bit of legislation will slip through on the nod, and without proper debate by MPs.

Is it me or does the whole SOCA thing seem like an attempt to cut costs?

There will be lots of overlap in the new merged entity, new contracts for agents -

Many experienced officers will go back to their forces rather than face the uncertainty.

In a couple of years time SOCA will be directly recruiting off the streets and the whole thing will be diluted in quality.

Whats wrong with the existing structures of the NCS, NCIS, Customs???

Is it that they are too expensive with the looming pensions crisis in the public sector eating up huge amounts of law enforcement budgets ???

Create a new agency - change terms and conditions, move out the experienced officers - and bring in the new blood on lower wages and pensions....

Change the law to make it easier to convict and confiscate organised crime groups assets - so in 2008 it appears that the new agency is succeeding...

Maybe im cynical....

I work with an individual who has been interviewed and offered a SOCA supervisors post. There was no need for the individual to give details of a line manager so their skills(or not) could be verified. This individual is not up to the job, but SOCA don't seem to care. They have so few applicants they are desperate. They will reap what they sew. An organisation of less than adequate individuals.

Are they not offering any more pay for these "elite" Serious Organised Crime Agency personnel ?

The public sector has never paid that well and the calibre of most public sector employees reflects this. Why should SOCA be any different.

Employing civilians to do tasks previously carried out by police constables is policing on the cheap. The police pension scheme for example is far more generous than anything that will be offered to SOCA employees. The other advantage, from the Home Secretary's point of view is that they will answerable to him, not to a police authority. Like the London Command Crime Group mentioned previously.

SOCA falls under the remit of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but as you say, there is no Local Police Authority for the Home Office to bully, and the annual reports about the effectiveness of SOCA only go to the Home Secretary.

Perhaps the expenditure , alleged value for money, delays in computer projects etc. should come under the scrutiny of the Intelligence Services Committee, which itself needs to be more aggressive in questioning the Executive branch of Government.

I doubt that the Home Affairs Select Committee will provide any proper independent scrutiny of SOCA.

Despite the Press hype, SOCA is looking more like Europol than the FBI.

Not too sure where Nur mi is cominmg from re. comments about employing civilians to do jobs previously done by a PC - most of the operational staff in SOCA actually going out doing arrests etc will be ex Police, Customs or IS - its likely that most of the NCIS civilians (presume this means those not badged to make arrests in reality - ie not a constable, customs or immigration officer) will be doing the kind of jobs they already do at NCIS. Also as to the calibre of public sector employees - well thats surely subjective - - not good compared to who - most private sector employees have not had to go through a door at 6 in the morning or face potential serious violence

Here we go. SOCA applicants from Woolworths, M&S etc. These are the people expected to fight the best criminals in the world. The thing will be a fiasco.

I find it somewhat unusual and without foundation for people, almost certainly serving or ex-police officers, to suggest that all new SOCA recruits must be police or ex-police. Why is this ? There are a great many law enforcement agencies worldwide that recruit straight from civi street. The recruitment process is very comprehensive and new recruits are then subject to a lenghthy, specialised and intensive training programme before becomming operational. This is precisely what happens in most of the Federal Agencies in the USA, such as the FBI, US Marshals Service and Secret Service to name but 3. These agencies recruit a great many people who have no prior Law Enforcement experience, via a very strict recruitment process, and intensive training course.
The FBI and Secret Service (is there any job more important to the USA than the protection of their own Head of State) are highly regarded, some would say they are the best in the world. Maybe! Are we saying that the US have got this wrong, and they should only be recruiting ex-police officers who may have only ever arrested some shoplifters, a few saturday night drunks and speeding motorists instead.They will certainly never done any CP work, so how is prior police experience of any relevance whatsoever? It's not. If prior experience in these areas was necessary, then I have no doubt that the FBI and Secret Service would insist on it. In fact while we are at it surely it would make sense for VIP protection units such as the Secret Service and perhaps the Met Special Branch Officers that protect the PM, should all have prior experience in close protection and firearms. If that were the case then only ex SAS, Royal Military Police or Royal Marine trained CP personnel would have the requisite skills. What possible relevant skills would a normal Met police officer have, which would make him more suited or experienced in CP work than a CP trained ex-military guy. The answer is none, yet we recruit Close Protection Officers from serving Met officers. Why do we do this? because personality, potential and ability to learn new skills are more important.
That is why the FBI recruit straight from civi street (university degree required amongst other things) and the new recruit can be trained in every thing he needs to know. Why the hell should SOCA be any different. Bright, sensible civilians with the right qualities can be trained in all they need to know for a role in SOCA just as new FBI recruits can. Why would a beat bobby in say, rural Suffolk who has never dealt with anything like the level of crime that SOCA will, be any more suited than a bright civi with all the right attributes. The answer is he wouldn't. The police do not have the monoploy on investigative skills and most of their day to day work is of no relevance to SOCA. Open up the recruitment, with strict appication requirements and an intensive training course and any of these successful recruits will be of the right quality for SOCA, more so than an area cop who because he has 5 years service on the streets, in some non descript British town feels he has a god given right to be more able to join SOCA than a highly motivated intelligent civilian. No disrespect to any service or ex officers, many of who I can call friends but I am demonstrating the lack of relevence to SOCA, of normal police experience and the argument does not stack up well when compared to other agencies such as the FBI etc.

Having read the above comments from "Norman" i find some of his comments refreshing and will agree with the "why should a beat bobby be given the god given right to apply" argument. However, I am a Detective Sergeant at present and am certainly sure that my experience in dealing with the criminal fraternity is relevant. I would even go as far as to say that a civilian fresh off the street would not be able to grasp the delicate intricasies needed for such major investigations. Let's stop pre-judging the new SOCA and wait to see what happens.

Don't forget that a massive portion of SOCA's remit is to combat financial crime (money laundering etc). Surely recruits for this work should have a commercial background and come from financial institutions, private sector investigations firms (Kroll, Control Risks) or agencies like the FSA. Many police officers haven't got the level of financial or commercial (and in some cases technical) background needed for this work. To my mind, the very best SOCA will have a mixture of private and public sector investigators from a variety of backgrounds. The police officers will learn from the civilians and vice versa.

It seems strange that the Serious Fraud Office did not get amalgamated into SOCA.

Would the SFO as part of SOCA be more, or less effective than at present ?

>>The police officers will learn from the civilians and vice versa.

This is the most sensible comment I have read on the whole page.

It is of course inherently true and, in todays recruitment world, the only way that any new organisation is going to get the right quantity and quality of choice that it needs to build an effective organisation. Selection, Training, Rewards all need to be top quality - otherwise I fear SOCA will fall into its own quagmire.

I hope my latter comment does not come to fruition as, as has already been stated, the criminals don't give a toss for any of this and carry on as they always have done.

I could not agree more with John Doe, Civi Street and Polko. My thoughts entirely. At last some well thought out and sensible comments on possible (indeed preferable)pools of talent for SOCA recruitment.

John Doe, thanks for the comment about my post being refreshing, and I agree with most of yours. I do have an issue though, where you say that "a civilian fresh off the street would not be able to grasp the delicate intricasies needed for such major investigations" This would be quite true if the person being recruited was indeed fresh off civi street, but that is not what I am suggesting. If they are new to law enfrocement or indeed any investagative work, then they would need to be carefully selected and trained and then be worked into the role, just as they would be in the FBI, Secret Service, Customs or M15 for example which take direct civilian recruits, why should SOCA be any different. Yourself as an experienced DS was once a new inexperienced CID Officer that needed training and supervising until your skills were at the level they are now. Not trying to argue with you but just wanted to make that point, that i am not advocating someone walking into SOCA off the street and the next week having them dealing with seroius and organised crime.
I agree lets wait and see.

Many different comment on this link, so time for my two pence worth.
As far as Police Officers are concerned they need to ensure that their entitlements are of a similar stature to what they have as a serving officer. At the present time it still seems a little up in the air as to what a retiring 'Agent' will get. There are many very experienced officers NOT going for the role for fear of losing out. This in itself is a great shame as there is a welth of experience there already. There is also a welth of experience within customs and i can see many of them applying for the new role - which will probably pay them much better than they get now.
Yes - the FBI takes on new recruits and i am sure SOCA will have to do the same - but lets be clear about this - there will have to be a massive trasitional period for this to take place smoothly.

Just a thought on the prior posts. I say Saga not Soca!

Today sees an attack on the retirement age for public sector workers (Teachers/civil servants etc) with a mandatory 65 for all 'new' recruits. Cops can retire after 30 years but will members of the new agency have to totter on into their dotage? "STOP! or I’ll clout you with my Zimmer - if I can lift it".

The new agency wants cops at start-up but I suspect that they will recruit elsewhere once they are up and running - police officers are hard to sack whereas under SOCA they can give their 'agents' 28 days notice.

Methinks that just as cheapo 'Community Support Officers' have supplanted the beat PC, so the Home Office will in the long-term recruit 'on the cheap' in the war against organised crime.

I agree that the police service does not have the monopoly on investigating serious crime, especially it's financial aspects but the writers are missing the point. The bureaucracy, legal niceties and torturous legislation involved is not easily absorbed. Cops who have 'suffered' through 15-20 odd years are sufficiently experienced - it would be a brave individual from 'Civvy Street' (though Cops are civilians, locally appointed etc) who could be confident in assuming an operational role in the new SOCA.

I hope it works and pay scales are right - pay peanuts as the saying goes...perhaps they can apply for a lottery grant from the spare £2.6bn knocking around in the fund at present.

Bluephase should be aware that a move to SOCA will entail a substantial pay cut for most officers, whether from Police of Customs. The terms and conditions are still to be ironed out, but rest assured, Bluephase, that people will be joining the new agency to do the job, NOT for financial gain.

As an operational 'civvie' and a veteran of many a covert surveillance operation, I have found that a lot of the time it was the police officers who were uprofessional. Their attitudes ranged from the incompetent to the cavalier. From practically shouting on their mobile phones whilst in obs vans - literally feet from machettied-up Yardies - or wearing bright red footy shirts at obs points, dancing about with binoculars because they couldn't get a 'proper look' in the urban hide, to being lied to about having the correct RIPA in force for the mode of surveillance. (I always check now)

I feel that any job role that doesn't call for the possession of a warrant card, can be civilianised. Surveillance, intelligence gathering, evidence gathering, forensics and preparation for court, can all be very professionally done by civilian employees. It's only when the 'civvies' need the doors kicking in and the bad guys dragging to interview do we really need card carrying officers. (You know, like MI5 do with Special Branch ;) If the operation is done really well, we don't even need much of an interview. (Don't want all our evidence giving away so they can cook up a story. Do we?)

I don't know which Force or individuals that Top Cat encountered. I myself worked for the police in a civilian role and my husband is a police officer - a specialist ( not in the Met I may add). It is true to say that in any organisation there are good and bad, and to make a sweeping statement and tar all police officers with the same brush is unjust. I know many officers whose professionalism, competence and experience would be invaluable in the set up of such an organisation - I also know other officers who do not appear to have the ability to undertake such a role. What is clear is that in the set up of an organisation which is expected to be up and running and producing results quickly, experience particularly in such a specialist field is very much needed. However, I do agree that applications should be welcomed from civilians and officers alike and that every individual applying for a post with SOCA , whether police officer or civilian should undergo strict assessment to see if they have the necessary skill and potential to fulfill the post requirements.

when this starts up when what will be the youngest age to apply and or recruit

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email & PGP Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.


Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0x1DBD6A9F0FACAD30 which will expire on 29th August 2021.

You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link:

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)


Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog - ethical and technical discussion about the project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

Parliamentary Opposition

The incompetent yet authoritarian Labour party have not apologised for their time in Government. They are still not providing any proper Opposition to the current Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government, on any freedom or civil liberties or privacy or surveillance issues.

UK Government

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

United Kingdom Parliament
Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

House of Commons "Question Book"

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
KableNet - UK Government IT project news - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
eGov Monitor

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported have gone on to set up other online tools like The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow - New Alliance's ID Cards page - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

Surveillance Infrastructures

National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

RFID Links

RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
RFID Scanner blog
RFID Gazette
The Sorting Door Project blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
Big Blunkett
Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
Chris Lightfoot
Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

Liberty Central

dropsafe - Alec Muffett
The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
solarider blog

Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
Global Guerrillas - John Robb
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
The Periscope - Companion weblog to journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
Matt Sellers
Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
Ilkley Against CCTV
Tim Worstall
Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
The Society of Qualified Archivists
The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward


The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.


Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia


Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at

Syndicate this site (XML):

Follow Spy Blog on Twitter

For those of you who find it convenient, there is now a Twitter feed to alert you to new Spy Blog postings.

Please bear in mind the many recent, serious security vulnerabilities which have compromised the Twitter infrastructure and many user accounts, and Twitter's inevitable plans to make money out of you somehow, probably by selling your Communications Traffic Data to commercial and government interests. (same window)

Recent Comments

  • gary smith: when this starts up when what will be the youngest read more
  • Swampy: I don't know which Force or individuals that Top Cat read more
  • Middle-Mass: As an operational 'civvie' and a veteran of many a read more
  • Top Cat: Bluephase should be aware that a move to SOCA will read more
  • Prophet of Doom: Just a thought on the prior posts. I say Saga read more
  • Bluephase: Many different comment on this link, so time for my read more
  • Norman: I could not agree more with John Doe, Civi Street read more
  • Polko: >>The police officers will learn from the civilians and vice read more
  • wtwu: It seems strange that the Serious Fraud Office did not read more
  • Civvy Street: Don't forget that a massive portion of SOCA's remit is read more


Monthly Archives

August 2019

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

wblogocrop_150.jpg - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers