Chinese CCTV Implicated In surveillance and Human Rights Abuses Across Public Sector

9th February 2022 / United Kingdom
Chinese CCTV Implicated In surveillance and Human Rights Abuses Across Public Sector

Schools, councils, police forces and government departments are using Chinese CCTV, implicated not only in dystopian style surveillance in the UK – but in human rights abuses against Uyghur people.

Hikvision and Dahua are Chinese state-funded companies, which have already been blacklisted in the U.S. over security concerns.

Thousands of public bodies have purchased the equipment and use it across the UK, with capabilities ranging from facial recognition to behaviour detention.

Jake Hurfurt, head of research and investigations at Big Brother Watch, said:

“It is horrifying that companies that provide the technological infrastructure for Beijing’s crimes against humanity provide cameras to 61 per cent of public bodies in the UK. The widespread use of Hikvision and Dahua CCTV in the UK is creating a dystopian surveillance state that poses serious rights and security risks to the British public, whilst indirectly supporting China’s persecution of ethnic minorities.”


Data obtained by civil liberties campaigners at Big Brother Watch through freedom of information requests suggests that more than half of secondary schools in England use Hikvision or Dahua cameras, with 386 of 676 respondents saying they were installed.

The Times reports that – “One school in the East Riding of Yorkshire said its Hikvision cameras were capable of facial recognition, person tracking, clothing colour searching, and hair colour and length detection. It added that the CCTV units could also identify “fights occurring”.

A school in Brent, northwest London, said its China-made cameras “are capable of detecting gender and clothing”. A school in Surrey said its surveillance system had object and demographic detection.

A total of 251 local authorities — about 75 per cent of respondents — admitted to having the technology.

Tower Hamlets council in east London, which will be home to the new Chinese embassy, bucked the trend and said it had banned the equipment.”

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The Metropolitan Police is among 15 police forces found to use Hikvision and Dahua cameras, and 35 hospitals and 49 universities also had surveillance systems supplied by them. One hospital has a face-detecting Hikvision camera at its A&E entrance.

The Ministry of Justice, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care admitted using tech from the companies.

Hikvision is the main vendor to police agencies in Xinjiang, where it is estimated that more than a million Uighurs have been detained.

Although the Commons foreign affairs committee has demanded that the government ban Hikvision and Dahua,  this was flatly refused.

MPs on the committee said that British institutions should be prevented from “doing business with any companies known to be associated with the Xinjiang atrocities”.

However, part of the problem is that corruption is now rife within the current political system with the Conservative government now knee-deep in accusations of malfeasance ranging from illegal lobbying and outright profiteering from government contracts to accepting donations from foreign donors connected to Beijing and Moscow.

Britain’s domestic security agency, MI5, sent a warning to MPs that an agent of the Chinese government was actively working to subvert the political processes of Parliament – who had made donations to the Conservative party more recently.

Yet, the Conservative government made a decision in mid-2020 to ban Huawei Technologies from the 5G infrastructure project purely due to national security threats.



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