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Mistaken identity

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It may sound like a fictional short story but Allan Dunne was filmed, featured on TV as a criminal, arrested and questioned when he turned up to a police station to explain, suspended and threatened with the sack, all within two days and all thanks to modern CCTV surveillance technology.

His crime? To take £20 out of his own account from a cash machine.

Allan was caught on CCTV making the withdrawn soon after a thief had used the cashpoint with a stolen card. Undercover police assumed him to be an accomplice and released the footage they had of him to Granada TV's Crimefile programme. This went out on TV the next day, the Daily Mail reports.

Allan immediately went to a police station with records of his bank account to explain the error but was arrested and questioned. He was eventually bailed and told to return in a month. Subsequently, his bosses suspended him.

When he finally managed to get the truth of the matter across, Greater Manchester Police suddenly changed tack and apologised unreservedly. Mr Dunne can have his job back but he has yet to return because he says he's stressed out and people in the street will think he's a criminal. And can you blame him?

The fact is that Allan has every right to sue not only the police but also Granada for showing the programme. And the fact remains that this would never have happened and would never have gone so far had it not been for the false confidence that people have in this surveillance technology.

Just last weekend, a long feature in the Sunday Times went into this very scenario of innocent people being caught up in a web because data is accumulated so fast that people automatically assume guilt.

As you may know, the UK is currently the most monitored place in the entire world. There isn't a street in London where you can't be picked up on CCTV cameras. The rest of the country is much the same. ®

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Sunday Times article

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