The shouting lampost: coming to a street near you?

Thanks to the Big Brother Watch supporter who highlighted his local council’s latest toy – the shouting lamppost.

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.



Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Bins, CCTV, Privacy | 4 Comments


  1. John Name
    18th October 2011

    This makes me want to conceal my face.

  2. CCTV Installer
    22nd October 2011

    I agree with you. A little too snoopy! Is there a sign for CCTV camera or is it hidden CCTV Camera?

  3. Kevin Gethin
    28th October 2011

    This council may find that it has shot itself in the foot. Imagine a few lads strolling home from the pub, as they pass the lampost roars out “no fly tipping” the lads have been drinking and might think that the lampost was saying “no fly zipping” we all know that young men can get aggressive with a drink inside them. Tired confused and emotional some lads could take umbrage and decide that they will do whatever they like with their flies and use the lampost as a peeing post. They may even decide to play the old school boy game of pee the highest. First pint down the pub to the one who hits the camera lens. If I lived near the shouting lampost I would take a couple of dogs along to visit this lampost at the first shout Fido and Rover would leap into action and mark their territory on the lampost, that would give it something to shout about.

    One can picture the headline in the Folkstone Herald “we had to withdraw the camera because people were just taking the piss” said a council spokeperson, if only. The council will install extra cameras and pee detctors and arrange for the Kent Police to run DNA checks so that they can discover just who or what is peeing on the lampost. They may even pay council staff overtime so that they can lurk inside one of the bins, ready to leap out and catch any phantom piddlers.

    Kevin Gethin

  4. Purlieu
    31st October 2011

    What are industrial bins doing on the public street in the first place ?