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Hunted - Could you go on the run?

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Could you go on the run? No phone. No cash card. No contact with family or friends. Change your habits, change your appearance… or they will find you?In a world in which our every action can be tracked, HUNTED explores the scale of Britain’s surveillance state and asks what it takes to avoid detection.

Going off-grid is now a near impossible task. Our surveillance society catches us on CCTV up to seventy times a day, but the ever-watching eye can see much further than that.

Now everything from cash withdrawals and purchases to our telephone calls or social media posts can be monitored. Cameras, phones and oyster cards track our journeys. The places we visit are stored, and our most personal of details sit on scores of anonymous databases. Our every habit and behaviour leaves a data trail of who and where we are.

So is it ever possible to slip through the net and avoid detection in a surveillance nation?

If you had to disappear tomorrow and become a fugitive, could you escape the tracks of your electronic footprint and head off grid? And just how would you go about it?

This summer, 14 ordinary brits were challenged to find out if it is possible to slip through the net and disappear. Alone or in pairs with little notice they had to give up their lives and try to evade capture from a team of expert hunters for up to 28 days.

Where they went and what they did was entirely up to them: from the highlands of Scotland, campsites, and canal towpaths to taking refuge in temples, inner city anonymity or relying on friends close to home. Each made their own plan and were told a few simple rules including that they must abide by the law and they could not leave the UK.

All gave permission to be tracked as the state might track a fugitive - cash cards and phones were monitored, houses searched and friends and family questioned. But not every method required permission; Today’s investigators are more than likely to employ the specialist skills of online investigators who use the huge amount of information openly available on the internet to research each fugitive and follow their tracks.

The fugitives’ tactics ranged from organised and cunning to haphazard and risky. Each approach presented unique risks - a plan that was too organised could offer a clear pattern of clues for the expert team of hunters to follow, a scattergun approach could lead to mistakes, easily exploited by the Hunters. One thing bonded the fugitives – they wanted to prove they could outsmart the hunters who use their knowledge and skills to track down their prey.

Across six weeks viewers will see the highs and lows of the fugitives’ time on the run and how their plans hold up against the might of the hunters.

Each team of fugitives was filmed by a dedicated cameraperson accompanying them on the run so that every moment of being on the run was captured on film: their panic and paranoia increasing with each day as they remained oblivious to how near, or far, they were to be caught. Their stories will be told across each episode, their attempt to go dark will be told alongside the efforts of the hunters to capture them.

The hunters are led by Brett Lovegrove, former Head of Counter Terrorism for the City of London Police. His team of 30 specialists include former and serving police and intelligence personnel, an ex CIA agent and cyber intelligence experts.

From Hunter HQ they researched and tracked those on the run, directing their teams on the ground to follow up leads in order to gain new information and ultimately capture the fugitives.