Yet more snoopers

Yet more snoopers! P1050664

Just spotted in one of this week’s freebies (the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen) that the local Council is to splash out £100,000 on yet more snooping devices… adding to the constantly growing list of such stuff that already burdens our over-surveilled society.

Apparently this is a thing called a “Roadflow mobile camera” that they’re proposing to bung in a Council car to patrol outside schools. Not a police car be it noted, but a Council vehicle. Seems the plan is to monitor the parking of vehicles outside schools, with the intention of nabbing motorists that are parking illegally.

They say its to deal with an “anti-social menace” caused by such illegal parking that they say represents an “absolute disregard for the safety of the children.” Ah yes. So its nothing whatsoever to do with the extra dosh (quoted as being somewhere in the region of £2,600-£3,150 per year) that they’re hoping to raise from parking fines?

Well, obviously not. Cos if it were then it’d take (by my possibly faulty reckoning… for I’ve never been very handy with figures) at least 31+ years just to recover the initial outlay. And that’s not allowing for the wages of the people manning it. Or other admin costs. Well, no doubt all the Council Tax payers of the area will be highly delighted by the Council blowing their hard-earned money in this way.

And is the camera likely to last that long, I can’t avoid asking myself. Or will it need to be replaced in, what, say another 5-10 years? At even more expense. Hmm.

Just what’s needed in these difficult economic times.

But, and this is the thing my mind keeps coming back to… these cameras are going to be monitored by Council people are they? Outside schools. Where kids are. So does this mean kids are going to be caught on camera as well? Now I wonder how parents will be feeling about some faceless anonymous Council snooper capturing their kids on camera when parents themselves are all too frequently prevented from or hindered in photographing their own children?

And presumably these anonymous Council people will be fully trained/qualified and, hopefully, trustworthy around children?

In fairness it is mentioned that motorists will be informed of this mobile snooping operation by the erection of road signs at the appropriate places… but how many non-motoring parents will actually notice those signs? Thus being unaware that their kids could appear in camera footage.

What I’m actually seeing here is yet more evidence that our society is encouraging of the deployment of cameras by local authorities, agencies of the State and suchlike, whilst at the same time hindering to an ever greater extent the activities of ordinary innocent photographers.

Unfortunately, the freebie reporting this story doesn’t appear to have included it in their on-line edition so I can’t provide a link to it… not at the moment! But they do invite local residents to contribute their views on the matter via email… just send ’em to editorial(at)timesandcitizen.co.uk

(Also published at yet another blog)

About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
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3 Responses to Yet more snoopers

  1. David says:

    Ah the joys of school gate parking.
    I have some (and I do mean some!) sympathy with he council here, in that the situation with parents parking in dangerous situations around schools needs to be addressed but that is about as far as my sympathies go because this must be a sledgehammer to crack a nut?
    2 options occur that would be cheaper:
    1/ deployment of traffic wardens/police outside schools at random times to book offending drivers, and I mean book them not just warn them coz that doesn’t work, if people know that their chances of being booked are greater then they will be less inclined to take a chance on it.
    2/ And this is the most radical idea and requires some capital investment, but probably not as much as their camera van option, hows about making it easier for parents to drop off their children? lets face it whether we like it or not parents will continue to drop their little darlings off to school by car, instead of bemoaning this situation why not do something? The school my sisters kids go to, in Somerset, has installed a crescent drop off zone, cars que nicely to get into this area and drop off their children right by the gates, under supervision of an adult. All other children, those who have to undergo the humiliation of the old fashioned walk to school use a completely different entrance, thereby keeping walkers away from cars, making it safe and easy for everyone.

    • fotdmike says:

      Well, as a photojourno mate of mine put it when commenting on this post elsewhere, “why not use a normal car and a £500 video? Would have the same result.” Though clearly that’s too simplistic for the Council. Never mind though, cos joe public’s paying the bill.

      The thing that really rattles my cage however is that whilst everyone appears totally complacent about virtually any form of “official” surveillance, there’s still a huge paranoia re photographers in general.

      As though people employed in “official” positions (in whatever guise… be that police, council, social workers or whatever), or indeed the State itself, are any more trustworthy than anyone else.

      But what I’m essentially saying is that the use of cameras and suchlike by various “official bodies” is becoming far too common a practise, to the point that folk seem now to be accepting it as the norm… a trend that I find incredibly disturbing.

  2. Pingback: Yet more snoopers… the ongoing tale | Adventures of an Idiot – occasional ramblings of a photography freak

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