Sleepwalking into an Orwellian Cage : On Regulation and Surveillance



Over on Facebook one of a cluster of links reporting the increasing surveillance and regulation of young people’s lives caused one of our supporters to comment, ” I am shocked at the lack of a response, we seem to be sleepwalking into an Orwellian cage.” Given not all our followers visit Facebook here are some of the reports informing his and our outrage.

Privacy concerns raised as more than one million pupils are fingerprinted in schools

More than a million pupils have been fingerprinted at their secondary school – thousands without their parents’ consent, according to new research published on Friday.

At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything

The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything. But they won’t be deployed against anyone. Advertisers, who cause plenty of nuisance and annoyance, have nothing to fear; nor do opera lovers hogging the pavements of Covent Garden. Annoyance and nuisance are what young people cause; they are inflicted by oddballs, the underclass, those who dispute the claims of power.


  1. I understand the catch all possibilities of annoyance or nuisance and as a Youth Worker who has been directed to `hotspots` of anti-social behaviour for at least the last 6 years I do not fear this new proposal.
    Yes these laws/rules are pervasive, undemocratic, restricting freedom of movement, etc. But how many authorities will actually implement them long term. There will be an initial flurry, then some high profiles examples but how many young people will be imprisoned for doing nothing ?

  2. Yes. We know they will only be used against the familiar targets. Not against the BBC who send out thousands of threatening letters each week to people who don’t have a TV license. Letters which talk about their “imminent appearance in court” – and which are certainly more than just being “annoying” or a “nuisance”. Letters for which there is no legal basis in law at all. Is the BBC going to be served an IPNA when they come out? I don’t think so.

    Perhaps minor crimes have been targeted with such success that the authorities have had to (in effect) expand the definition of crime to “being annoying” – in case they run out of things to do / people to march around wearing Pay Back bibs. Meanwhile it is business as usual on all the usual profit making fronts: starting wars to get contracts, selling weapons both to dictators and the revolutionaries who are toppling them, money-laundering public revenues to corporate bank accounts in massively over-priced public sector contracts (e.g. the failed £100 million BBC IT project) , stuffing hyperactive young people full of toxic drugs, private prisons for people who breach their IPNAs, and all the rest of it.

    It is a final mockery that power is now making “being annoying” a matter for the law (and potentially jail if you breach the IPNA and are held in contempt of court) while power itself commits crimes of several orders of magnitude greater as part of its daily business.

    But as the author of this piece (below) points out, where is the disquiet? Who notices the irony?

  3. As concerns the finger-printing of young people in schools. The real problem here is not that they are “getting the wrong message about privacy” but that they are being criminalised. Finger-printing is how the police keep track of criminals. When students are finger-printed at school for the lunch queue system or library or registration systems they are being sent a message that they are criminals. Or at least like criminals in some way. That we seem to find this acceptable is part of the way that young people are being criminalised by default, just for being young. It is a strange reflection on this corrupt society ruled as it is solely by money that we have no other way of dealing with young people other than via the criminal justice system.

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