Eeek! The Brits Have REALLY Lost Their Way

I am really left speechless by this.

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.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.

It actually undershoots the mark to call this "Orwellian," since in "1984" the government monitoring was aimed mainly at combating subversive thought and behavior.  But the Brits are going one better, monitoring families to make sure their kids are eating their vegetables and getting to bed on time.

Incredibly, the oppositions response is that this is... not nearly enough intervention!!!

But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: "This is all much too little, much too late.

"This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse."

Is there any voice left for individual liberties in England?  Am I missing something here?  This seems simply horrible.  Is there at least due process involved, such that such measures can only be imposed as a result of a criminal conviction (I don't think so, from my reading of the story and comments -- I think this is like Child Protective Services in the US, with a lot of not-subject-to-due-process intervention powers, but maybe my UK readers can fill in more detail).

I liked this from the comments:

These cameras should be in MPs homes so we can see what the scumbags are up too.

Ditto for Congress.  And how about a Lincoln Bedroom cam?

Hat Tip:  Engadget


  1. me:

    Impressive. David Brin (SF author) once argued that privacy was on its deathbed, that in fact the only way to go forward was to go full blast, install publically accessible cameras everywhere to at least ensure that everyone had the same level of non-privacy (instead of having a monitored and an unmonitored 'class'). I thought it was a load of speculative argument at the time. Now I wonder if the man was way ahead of his time.

  2. Bryan Pick:

    Brin's The Transparent Society is a thought-provoking book -- I recommend it. "me" got his argument wrong, though -- Brin didn't stipulate that we should install publicly accessible cameras everywhere. He thought we should be able to watch the watchers (particularly those who have power), and he thought that the advance of recording devices in private hands was inevitable, and argued that attempts to legally prevent people from watching each other in public were bound to fail -- and harm liberty. He argued that the private space would shrink, but wasn't comfortable with eliminating all private space.

    Warren -
    The Children's Secretary has flatly denied that they plan to install CCTV cameras in families' homes. Any idea where the Express got the idea that it would involve 20k in-home cameras?

  3. ettubloge:

    I haven't read fiction in 10 years. However, in the past year I have read Orwell and Rand. Outrageous fiction is becoming fact!

  4. Tom G:

    The first few minutes of digging hasn't found further confirmation (from sources outside the Express), but Ed Balls really IS the guy's name - and the fact that Britain even HAS a Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families is scary.

  5. JoshK:

    I'm not a big fan of government intrusion either, but there's a difficult problem for most libertarians there that children need protection as well.

  6. Billy Beck:

    Josh: from whom do they "need protection"?

  7. Larry Sheldon:


    Stop the flashbacks!

    THX 1138
    The Fountainhead
    Brave New World
    Atlas Shrigged
    44th (and last?) President
    110th (and last?) Congress

  8. Cold Englishman:

    On a 200 mile journey today in England, I lost count of the number of speed cameras in place on the highway, and countless other overhead cameras. It is said that on average most Britons are photographed 300 times daily. (No mistake with the zeros by the way THREE HUNDRED)

    We even have a "Minister FOR climate change" would you believe.

    All coming to a nice country like yours soon.


  9. Jason:

    Is it really surprising this is happening in England ? Once you turn over responsibility to the state the state has a responsibility to make sure you do the right thing.

    Sure it is scary, but it would seem to follow from the premises. A cradle to grave nanny state is entitled to insert itself to make sure you behave properly.

  10. Dr. T:

    "Is there at least due process involved..."

    Sure, some objective government employees determined (based upon undisclosed guidelines) that these were "problem" families. Perhaps seven-year-old Mark didn't sit still for 90 minutes straight while being lectured at by his boring second grade teacher. Or, perhaps a neighbor tattled after Dad yelled at Mark for punching his little sister.

    I'm not seeing "1984" in England. I'm seeing "A Clockwork Orange." It's going to get very bad, and "hooliganism" will skyrocket.

  11. Firehand:

    Check out a David Drake book called 'Lacey and his Friends'; sounds half like the Brits have been using it for a blueprint.