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'Businesses are being forced into gathering information'

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The Information Commissioner's Office is poised to tell the Home Office to rein in police demands that pubs and clubs install CCTV cameras as a pre-condition of their licences.

The issue came up back in February when it emerged that the Metropolitan Police were pressuring a pub in Islington to install cameras in order to guarantee their co-operation in a licence request.

New landlord Nick Draper said at the time: "I was stunned to find the police were prepared to approve, ie not fight, our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request."

The Met said it was not a policy for the whole of London but: "individual boroughs may impose blanket rules".

A club in south London was told by police that: "all persons entering the premises must supply verifiable identification details that are passed through a digital scanning and recording system such as Club Scan, Idvista or similar computerised system". A fetish night held at the venue did manage to get the club to agree to delete visitors' details after 31 days.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith told The Telegraph that he would send a formal submission to the Home Office calling for tighter rules on CCTV and other ID scanners being used to collect innocent people's fingerprints and pictures.

Smith said: "What we are worried about is that businesses are being forced into gathering information for police and the law enforcement agencies.

"The question is whether we are going too far and is this surveillance at a level that is unacceptable that doesn't justify the benefits. Pubs and clubs should not become information gathering sources for police."

A spokesman for the ICO was unable to provide any further details, but said that the formal submission had not been sent to the Home Office yet. ®

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