Shepway District Council installed the device to tackle fly-tipping by a set of industrial bins. Unlike a normal CCTV camera, the system takes the photo of every person who walks near the bins, and plays a loud message warning you not to fly tip and announcing that it is taking your picture.
Given that you don’t need to be in immediate physical proximity to the bins to trigger the system, the likelyhood is that photographs are being taken – and stored – of people who have committed no offence, other than using a public right of way.
A spokesman for the council told the Folkestone Herald: “This is not so much about catching people as it is about stopping antisocial behaviour, like fly-tipping, from happening in the first place.”
Exactly what evidence this is based upon is a mystery. It is, to our knowledge, the first ‘shouting lamppost’ in Britain, and it has not been established as a pilot scheme.
Once again a Council has jumped to intrusive surveillance rather than ask why a problem exists – Big Brother Watch has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what happens to the images and how much the system has cost.
In the mean time, if you come across your own ludicrous examples of council snooping, let us know.