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Innovation

G20 police use usual surveillance methods

I went to take a look at the G20 protests in the City this afternoon. I was interested in what technology the police were using to monitor the crowd.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

I went to take a look at the G20 protests in the City this afternoon. I was interested in what technology the police were using to monitor the crowd.

I was expecting some new technology, as the police trialled head-mounted cameras in 2007 -- I wanted to see whether they were being used.

The answer was no. The police were using heavy-duty SLR stills cameras, and tiny digicams. The officers on duty didn't want to talk to me. I was told by one heavy-set gentleman in riot gear, who declined to give me his name, that the photographers were "far too busy" to talk to me, and that "they have a job to do as well you know". I found this quite amusing as the photographers I wanted to talk to were at the time sitting just by him on the steps of the Bank of England, having a chat.

After I managed to negotiate my way around several police cordons (the police were 'kettling' the protesters i.e. blocking all exits and entrances aside from a narrow alley), I managed to see the police in action:

g20weds039.jpg

Here the officer (who has been trained to do so) holds the stills camera like a gun. Note the side-mounted video camera, and the egg that has narrowly missed the policeman:

g20weds041.jpg

And here is what the police were filming:

g20weds046.jpg

The protesters were reciprocating, by filming the police.

The police were also monitoring the crowd using a police helicopter.

I went up to the protests not knowing what to expect, but all of the protesters I saw were behaving peacefully, and the police were too. There have been some reports of trouble: the Guardian has blogged about the police hitting protesters, while some protesters were Twittering earlier that someone had broken one of the windows at RBS, and that the police had baton-charged at Bank.

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