Anti CCTV Campaigner Barred From Important Meeting In Oxford
Nick Pickles, a man who has spent years fighting against rulings which seek to invade people’s privacy was barred from a meeting in Oxford by the city council. The meeting was set up between the council and taxi firms in a bid to discuss plans to include CCTV cameras in taxis. Pickles had travelled from London to be involved only to be thwarted by council officials who said the meeting was private.
The council is adamant that the CCTV scheme is necessary as a means of protecting drivers and the general public. Khalil Ahmed and his fellow private hire drivers initially set up the meeting and had originally invited Pickles to attend. Around 250 people have signed a petition protesting against the scheme so far.
Pickles is the director of the well-known pro-privacy group Big Brother Watch and was disappointed to be barred as he felt it was important to follow up the petition and he wished to do so in person. In his opinion, the CCTV scheme has no support and believes that the council has no interest in meaningful conversation.
Ahmed spent around 90 minutes in the meeting with council officials including Colin Cook with members of the Licensed Taxicab Association of the city also in attendance. Ahmed was also extremely annoyed that Pickles was not allowed in the discussions. He believes that this was a sign of ill intent from the council because Pickles is an expert in privacy issues. However, Ahmed was defiant and said that they would continue to fight CCTV in cabs.
During the meeting, a number of taxi drivers waited outside the Town Hall where the meeting took place and waved banners which showed their opposition to CCTV in cabs. Cook said that although he would be happy to have a meeting with Pickles, this gathering was for taxi drivers only. After the meeting, Ahmed stated that the council indicated their intent on moving forward with their CCTV plans. The process is supposed to begin on 1 April with all newly registered taxis obliged to have CCTV in them. Older cabs have until 2015 to comply.