Secretive Security and Policing Exhibition this week
This week, in Farnborough, the secretive Security and Policing Exhibition takes place behind closed doors. On the face of it, the event, organised by the Home Office, is innocent enough. It brings together firms providing security equipment with police and other security personnel who might have an interest in purchasing it. The UK has a high-profile in this industry.
The first puzzle however, is why the taxpayer is funding this exhibition? The current government is extremely keen on the private sector and in promoting free enterprise. It has a distaste for the public sector and seeks every opportunity to outsource or privatise services previously provided by them. So why, may one ask, is the Home Office organising and sponsoring this event? Surely since these are profit-making enterprises – some hugely so – can they not organise their own event without subsidy from the taxpayer?
But the bigger concern is the use some of this equipment is put to and the customers being invited to the exhibition. The list of countries include many well-known abusers of human rights and include Brunei; Indonesia, Saudi Arabia; Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and UAE. The equipment being sold is likely to be used to violently and brutally repress individuals or groups of protestors who may be carrying out perfectly lawful demonstrations. Once arrested, many will be tortured, mistreated and in some cases ‘disappeared.’ The UK will be complicit in this activity.
There is clearly some sensitivity around this exhibition – which as we’ve noted, is not open to the public – and its website says:
Established as one of the most important events in the security calendar, this unique event is aimed at police, law enforcement and offender management professionals who are tasked with security, civil protection and national resilience.
Security & Policing enables those with operational needs to meet companies with the relevant solutions. Exhibitors get the opportunity to display products that would be too sensitive to show in a more open environment. Visitors get to see the very latest products, services and technologies available – all within a secure environment. (emphasis added)
Reading some of the exhibitors’ websites is quite chilling with descriptions of real-time interception, harvesting millions of communications a minute and access to the ‘dark web.’ Clearly, if the public were to see some of the equipment it would be alarming so making the exhibition closed gets over that.
In addition to the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be attendance to show the delegates round and make them welcome. John Glen MP is PPS to the Minister and will no doubt be taking part. We look forward to his piece in the Salisbury Journal telling us about this. UPDATE 17 March – no mention in the Salisbury Journal (17th March) so perhaps he didn’t attend.
We have previously commented on Britain’s role is supplying weapons and service personnel in various countries and in particular Yemen, where civilians and hospitals are being bombed using our equipment. In addition to selling weapons, we sell repressive regimes the means to crack down on their citizens and we seem to be quite proud to do so as well. Claims by the Prime Minister, other ministers and Mr Glen to be promoting human rights seem quite hollow in the light of these activities.