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Surveillance operators monitor CCTV feeds in London.  (Source: The Guardian)
Rights groups outraged

Hot off the heels of news indicating that widespread civic CCTV deployment has little meaningful impact on crime, new reports indicate that local UK governments are using CCTV to prosecute petty crimes, including cases of littering, the misuse of a disabled parking passes, and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets in public.

According to the BBC, local authorities have abused the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) more than 100 times in the past 12 months, based off of interviews with 46 out of the 468 local governments in the UK.

In one of the more infamous examples, a government council admitted that it invoked RIPA in order to track a family that it suspected was living outside of a school’s admissions area. James Welch, legal director for rights group Liberty, called the abuse a “ridiculously disproportionate use of RIPA,” noting that it would “undermine public trust in necessary and lawful surveillance.”

RIPA was passed in 2000, in response to a rapidly-growing usage of the internet and strong encryption. The law both allowed and governed the use of surveillance, interception, and “covert human intelligence sources” in efforts to combat crime and terrorism.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti compared the government’s current scandal with CCTV to using a sledgehammer to crack nuts. Her group, as well as others such as Privacy International, called for a complete, “root and branch” review of the country’s surveillance and privacy laws.

Accusations against local governments are compounded by a number of recently-arising facts, including one that found that only 3% of street robberies in London are solved with CCTV-gathered images – despite the UK’s highest per-capita deployment of surveillance cameras in the world. One such report, published in The Guardian, attributes their lack of use to police investigator laziness and citizens’ lack of fear due to the fact that they think that the “cameras are not working.” Police departments attributed it to a lack of meaningful collaboration, and have since called on work to produce a national database of offenders.

“There are strict rules to protect people from unnecessary intrusion,” said Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton. “Whenever a council applies to use these powers they must prove that it is both necessary and proportionate to the crime being investigated.”

Chakrabarti was not satisfied, however: “There are better ways to achieve the objectives without using counter-terrorism laws,” she said.

“You can care about serious crime and terrorism without throwing away our personal privacy with a snoopers' charter.”



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bravo
By wordsworm on 5/10/2008 9:49:27 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
CCTV to prosecute petty crimes, including cases of littering, the misuse of a disabled parking passes, and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets in public.


I'd welcome such great service in my neighborhood. It's about time that folks respect handicap space, that dog owners pick up after their animals, not to mention littering. All of these things have consequences for neighborhoods and are committed by folks who have little or no concern.

I welcomed traffic cams and as many cams as the government can throw around to watch the public. Sure it's a bit 1984, but it's also got the possible virtue of making laws effective. Even in the case where the kids were going to a school they weren't supposed to, it was a matter of securing the rules against abuse. Bravo to the UK.

What I wouldn't like about it is where these cams are abused to the point of corporations going after employees because they saw them going down the street topless at Mardi Gras. Also, I'm into the anti-drug-war 'movement,' and the last thing I want is to get caught with some green between my lips.




RE: bravo
By Gerbilhamster on 5/10/2008 4:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
But that doesn't tackle the fundamental fact that these people have no respect for the people around them. We need to address the root cause of these anti-social tendancies not slap them on the wrist after-the-fact.


RE: bravo
By exploderator on 5/11/2008 1:04:16 AM , Rating: 5
If you don't want your neighbours to do impolite and antisocial things, then ask them not to these things YOURSELF .

Don't steal my money for taxes to hire ARMED THUGS to do it for you.

FvCKING DISGUSTING. You deserve the facist police state you pay for. I refuse it.

And BTW, you can count on me to be a polite neighbour. I take responsibility for myself. And I will call you personally to task if you're a twat.


RE: bravo
By wordsworm on 5/12/2008 10:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And BTW, you can count on me to be a polite neighbour. I take responsibility for myself. And I will call you personally to task if you're a twat.


Yeah, so when you step in dog poop, you can take it to a lab and all the other dogs in your neighborhood to identify the dog that laid that poop. Then you can go next door and politely ask your neighbor to pick up after his/her/their dog. Maybe in England they could allow everyone to access the video records so that you can just watch the culprit in action and send them a polite little fine of £50. No thug is required.


RE: bravo
By feraltoad on 5/11/2008 1:40:46 AM , Rating: 2
Redlight cameras do not increase safety. In fact, exactly the opposite; they increase accidents. They are only cash cows for cities. Just like when a cop advises you he really "cares about safety" and hands you a fat speeding ticket for $150 on a lonely stretch of highway with no one in sight. Oh well, serve and taze...I mean beat..I mean protect.


RE: bravo
By wordsworm on 5/12/2008 10:45:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just like when a cop advises you he really "cares about safety" and hands you a fat speeding ticket for $150 on a lonely stretch of highway with no one in sight. Oh well, serve and taze...I mean beat..I mean protect.


Yeah, and what if you have passengers? Your act of speeding puts everyone at risk. Good for the pig... I mean police officer.


RE: bravo
By feraltoad on 5/14/2008 10:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think everyone would agree static speed limits are unreasonable for the changing conditions of the road. Next time you go 10 mph over the speed limit so you don't get ran down on the highway or because the limit doesn't seem reasonable considering current conditions I hope you think about how badly you deserve a ticket at that moment. The act of driving puts everyone at risk. Perhaps, no one should have a car.

I was commenting that their concern seems disingenuous considering their actions are generally ineffective, and at times opposite, in achieving their stated goals.


RE: bravo
By derwin on 5/11/2008 4:49:32 AM , Rating: 1
how about instead of installing cameras to catch people littering, misusing handicapped spots and pet owners leaving crap on the ground, we use this same new mantra of invasion of privacy to monitor a) our government officials - god knows they commit more crimes than their citizenery combined, and b) corporate executive, especially of "public" companies, so we cannot have another enron or worldCom scandal. I for one would much rather see my tax dollars spend on such things than making sure I don't step in literal shit - I'm more concerned about the figurative kind.


"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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