Jacqui Smith, the surveillance-crazed Home Secretary of the UK, has been caught making extremely dubious expense claims for her government-paid "second residence" in London -- caught by neighbours who ratted her out for what they perceive as a kind of "benefits fraud" on a grand scale. Ironically, Smith's Home Office has put an enormous amount of energy into inveigling Britons to fink out their neighbours for the cheaper, smaller-scale benefits fraud and potential terrorist, launching tiplines for people who think their neighbours have too many mobile phones (a sure sign of terrorism!), and running ads that say "We're closing in with hidden cameras. We're closing in with every means at our disposal."
Live by the snitch, die by the snitch.
If you want to rat out your neighbours, allow the home secretary to enumerate the ways. Do you know someone who claims more from the state than they're entitled to? Who is "picking the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers"? Not politicians over-egging their allowances, obviously, but "benefit thieves". If so, call 0800 854 440 now. "We're closing in with hidden cameras. We're closing in with every means at our disposal."
Do they own more than one mobile phone? Then call 0800 789 321. "Terrorists need communication. They often collect and use many pay-as-you-go mobile phones, as well as swapping Sim cards and handsets."
No mobile phones? What about if they're "hanging around"? Or, as the Home Office-funded radio advertisement puts it: "How can you tell if they're a normal everyday person or a terrorist? The answer is that you don't have to. If you call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321, the specialist officers you speak to will analyse the information. They'll decide if and how to follow it up. You don't have to be sure. If you suspect it, report it."
It's such a lovely turn of phrase, that. If you suspect it, report it. Don't wait for evidence. Or question your own prejudices. If someone's not a "normal everyday person" exactly like you, then they could well be a member of al-Qaida. What flawless logic that is.