Police are using an expanding array of surveillance tools to monitor us as we go about our lives – but are providing the public with next to no information about them. Email your PCC today and demand they reveal what tech is in use in your community
Policeman looks out over crowd of protesters
“Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free.”
Edward Snowden

Contact your Police and Crime Commissioner to call for transparency over what tech is being used in your community – and demand they put your rights and freedoms first.

Police are rolling out new surveillance technologies on our streets which put our rights at risk.

The tech threatens our right to privacy.

And feeling monitored can cause us to change what we do, where we go and who we go with.

These tools can discriminate against people and cause the police to unjustifiably target certain groups and communities.

From facial recognition on our streets to monitoring our social media and examining our mobile phones, the police are not open and honest about what tech they use, where they use it, who they use it against and what laws allow them to do so.

Surveillance tech is often used without public knowledge or consent – and here is where your local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) comes in.

PCCs hold their local police force to account, and part of their role is to reflect the views of the local community – so it’s crucial you let them know your concerns.

Take Action

Email your Local Police and Crime Commissioner

Your elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) works for you.

Email them today and demand they reveal what tech is in use in your community and ensure your fundamental rights are protected.

Email your local PCC.

If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland

Scotland and Northern Ireland do not have PCCs, so you won’t be able to use our tool – you’ll need to contact the police forces directly to ask for this information. You can use our suggested email to PCCs to guide you – and it’s best to send this as a “Freedom of Information” request.

Find out more about doing for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Remember that you can still invite better public engagement and consultation, but you are contacting the police force directly and not a PCC.

Download our campaign pack

Download the Liberty and Privacy International Campaign Pack and organise a community action with people in your local area.

Discuss ways to resist police surveillance tech together and organise a meeting with your local Police and Crime Commissioner.

Download campaign pack.


Police have provided the public with next to no information on the ever-expanding array of surveillance tools they are using to monitor us.

Liberty and Privacy International have made a series of explainers to help raise public awareness of these technologies.

Facial recognition

Facial recognition works by matching live images of people walking past special cameras against images on a watch list. The cameras scan the distinct points of our faces to create a uniquely identifiable biometric map – more like a fingerprint than a picture.

The police make up the watch lists however they choose, and have used facial recognition cameras to target people with mental health issues. And the technology is known to more likely misidentify women and BAME people.

Find out more – download Facial Recognition Explainer

Facial recognition camera in use by police in Leicester Square London
A facial recognition camera in operation at Leicester Square in January 2019.

IMSI catchers

IMSI catchers can be used to locate and track mobile phones in a certain area by pretending to be a signal tower and tricking phones into connecting with them and revealing people’s personal data.

They can be used to intercept and monitor your calls and messages, and change their content – and you wouldn’t even know it was happening.

Find out more – download IMSI Catchers Explainer

Mobile phone extraction

Police need a warrant to search your home – but not your phone.

The police are using mobile phone extraction technology, which can download all the data from your phone – messages, photos, videos contacts, internet history and more. This can includes anything that has been encrypted or deleted.

Find out more – download Mobile Phone Extraction Explainer

Predictive Policing

Predictive policing computer programs attempt to predict future criminal activity or behaviour. 

But these computer algorithms can worsen pre-existing inequalities and lead to the continued over-policing of marginalised communities. 

The precise way they make their predictions is very difficult to understand, which makes it near-impossible for us to challenge their decisions.

Find out more – download Predictive Policing Explainer


The police can access everything on your phone without you even knowing about it.

They can switch on the microphone and listen to your private conversations, switch on the camera and spy on you in real time and log every keystroke to learn all of your passwords.

Find out more – download Hacking Explainer

Social media intelligence

Police are snooping on our social media content and using it to profile us.

Police officers might even pose as a new friend to access your social media profile. Undercover digital surveillance should require a warrant – but many police are doing it without one.

Find out more – download Social Media Intelligence Explainer

Body Worn Video Cameras

Police body worn video cameras can record in private spaces and could be used alongside technologies like facial recognition to identify and track people in real time.

Find out more – download Body Worn Video Cameras Explainer

Holding the police to account

Each police force across England and Wales has a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). PCCs are elected by the public in each local area.

PCCs play a very important role in local policing. Their job is to be the voice of their local community and to hold the police to account. This means that they should listen to and represent your views about how the police work in your area – and this includes topics like police surveillance and new policing technologies.

Find out who your PCC is.

Find out more – download the PCCs explainer.