A session at OpenTech 2011

Saturday 21st May, 2011

5:00pm to 6:00pm (GMT)

what does the government spend money on?

Lisa Evans

It's an innocent enough question: What does the government spend money on? Now, I'm not an accountant and I'm not a statistician and personally I don't have a political axe to grind, I just want some answers to this question that make sense. This attitude gives me a lot of freedom: I don't have to get bogged down in any system of understanding spending unless it really helps. But this attitude also gives me a lot of opportunity, because I'm effectively feeling my way around this unfamiliar financial and political world, pushing for information that may or may not be useful in the end, asking questions that must seem really stupid to experts. But what does the Government spend money on?

Police State UK: open source citizen journalism

Helen Lambert & Denny de la Haye

Police State UK is a news and opinion website covering UK civil liberties (politics, policing, and the sometimes worrying relationship between them). The website runs on an open source content management system called YAWNS, written in Perl and running on Linux and Apache. We have an open content policy, encouraging readers to contribute articles. Although most of the content is written by us, we have had some excellent contributions from others - including articles from serving politicians and practising lawyers. We also run a successful Twitter account - probably more successful than the website itself in fact, with over 5,000 followers and counting. Recent events have seen us publishing a lot of articles on the right to protest, but we've also covered subjects such as ID cards, DNA retention, RIPA, CCTV and more - our areas of interest are broad, and we're particularly interested in how many of these issues seem to come back to similar attitudes on the part of the state. We report what's happening in Parliament, on the streets, and in posh Westminster policy seminars (we're still not sure how we got on that invite list).

The Law


"Ignorance of the law is no excuse". Yet, despite advances in opening up statute law, case law - which interprets frequently vague legislation and sets binding precedents - remains strangely limited in its availability. This project works to make case law genuinely accessible and usable. It also creates a platform for investigating case law as data: what can we uncover about the quality of legislation, or the likelihood of judicial error? In this way we hope to shine a light into some of the dark and dusty corners of the British justice system.

About the speakers

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Police State UK

Tracking politics, policing and civil liberties in the UK. bio from Twitter

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UK case law set free bio from Twitter

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Helen Lambert

Partner in Shiny Ideas, co-founder of Police State UK. Filthy hippy & activist type. Also design/dev, fine art, folk music, hula-hooping, growing my own food. bio from Twitter

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Where Does My Money Go? The UK version of OpenSpending. For the international version - follow @openspending. The big picture on public spending. bio from Twitter

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Perl hacker, people watcher, Internet resident. Partner in Shiny Ideas. bio from Twitter

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Time 5:00pm6:00pm GMT

Date Sat 21st May 2011


Main Room, University of London Union

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