The equipment being exhibited, the issues being discussed and the closed nature of the event all demonstrate the type of ‘security’ that is being discussed. It is not a security based on rights and well-being, but one based on surveillance, control and force.
The same products are being offered seamlessly to the police, intelligence, military and government organisations. Companies provide short profiles of their activities… many list police and military side-by-side.
Border enforcement is a major element of Security & Policing 2021, with the second keynote speech being delivered by the Director General of the UK Border Force. (The opening speech being from Home Secretary Priti Patel, an enthusiastic supporter of the hostile environment.)
The three major arms companies that play a particularly critical role in militarising Europe’s borders – Leonardo, Thales and Airbus – are all exhibiting at Security & Policing:
- Leonardo has put “Cyber and Border Security” front and centre of its exhibition promotion. Its helicopters, drones and IT systems are all used to stop people getting to Europe.
- Thales has researched how to track and control refugees before they reach Europe, provides the security system for Calais, and manufacturers maritime surveillance systems for drones (The Business of Building Walls). Its Watchkeeper drone has been used by the UK army to “tackle the increasing number of small boats” crossing the Channel.
- Airbus – supplies helicopters including to US Customs and Border Protection, drone services to the EU’s border force Frontex and land and coastal border surveillances systems.
Another major arms and military service provider is US-based Leidos. The Transnational Institute reports that Leidos is one of 13 companies that “play a pivotal role in the US Border Industry”
There were 156 exhibitors registered for Security & Policing 2021 the day before it started. As part of the exhibitor listing, the companies self-categorise according to “Products and Services categories”. Overall, 54 Security & Policing exhibitors self-categorised as “Border and Maritime Security”, though provided little specific information in their short profiles.
Ever-expanding surveillance is an essential element of the type of ‘security’ carried out by both police and military, undermining human rights in the UK and internationally.
At Security & Policing 2021, many companies are marketing their role in the categories of Facial Recognition & Imagery, Biometrics, CCTV & Video Analytics. However, one of the most popular categories at Security & Policing is “Covert Operations & Capabilities” with 54, or over a third of exhibitors, self-categorising. Companies include (quotes taken from company profiles on the exhibitors list):
- AREA – “solutions for Lawful Interception, Data Retention, Cybercrime investigations, Darknet and Social Media monitoring and Electronic surveillance.”
- Cellxion – “specialising in cellular intelligence gathering and geo-location tools for law enforcement and military users”
- The Covert Technology Suppliers Forum (CTSF) – “special interest group of ADS, and brings together organisations that have products and services in the four areas of: •Covert Detection •Covert Interception •Covert Surveillance •Countermeasures”
- Coverty – “mobile and cellular surveillance systems”
- CROPS – “a Supplier of Covert Technologies and Operational Solutions to Domestic and International Defence, NATO SOF, Law-Enforcement and Allied Government Intelligence Agencies”
- Digital Barriers – “provide highly innovative surveillance and security technologies”. (Privacy International reports that Digital Barriers is collaborating with the Met Police and others on a programme developing “unconstrained face recognition technology”)
- Panoptech – “specializing in providing covert crime technology solutions”
- Smith Myers – “design, development, manufacture and support of application specific cellular network and handset exploitation capabilities for Government Agencies and The Military.”