Campaigners angered as 400 are prosecuted over census

 
Julian Harris
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FOUR hundred people are being prosecuted for refusing to complete last year’s government census, according to a group that objected to the survey.

Outsourcing part of the census to Lockheed Martin UK – a British wing of an American arms manufacturer – provoked opposition from pacifist campaigners.

Activist group Count Me Out says that the figure, which is over 10 times higher than the 38 prosecutions following the previous 2001 census, can be explained by principled objections to Lockheed Martin’s involvement.

“Thousands of people deliberately did not complete the census due to the involvement of an arms company,” the group said yesterday. Around 120 people have been found guilty so far, Count Me Out claims, with most fined a few hundred pounds.

Last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) argued that the contract was entirely separate from the US arms group, and “offered the best value for money in an open procurement scheme”.

Last night Nick Pickles of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch hit out at the authorities. “The government has acknowledged the census needs overhauling and yet £30m was spent on harassing and intimidating people who may have not filled out a form,” he said.