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UK Uses CCTV, Terrorism Laws, Against Pooping Dogs 303

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the let-this-be-a-lesson dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that it seems the UK is trying make up for their judicious use of surveillance cameras that, according to recent research, do not actually deter crime, by using the surveillance network to prosecute petty crimes. "Conjuring up the bogeymen of terrorists, online pedophiles and cybercriminals, the U.K. passed a comprehensive surveillance law, The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, in 2000. The law allows 'the interception of communications, carrying out of surveillance, and the use of covert human intelligence sources' to help prevent crime, including terrorism. Recent reports in the U.K. media indicate that the laws are being used for everything but terrorism investigations."
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UK Uses CCTV, Terrorism Laws, Against Pooping Dogs

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  • Slippery Slopes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:12PM (#23355986) Homepage Journal
    NOW do you believe us?
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:15PM (#23356012)
    I hate it when dogs piss and poop right in the middle of the sidewalk.

    By the way, the summary is wrong - that study the other day did not say the crimes didn't deter crime... only that they don't help much in SOLVING street robberies. Big difference, that.
    • by the 99th penguin (1453) on Friday May 09, 2008 @07:19PM (#23356548) Journal

      By the way, the summary is wrong - that study the other day did not say the crimes didn't deter crime... only that they don't help much in SOLVING street robberies. Big difference, that.

      Speaking of which (cameras deterring crime), here is an interesting article from SFGate [sfgate.com]

      From the article:

      Using a complicated method, researchers were able to come up with an average daily crime rate at each location broken out by type of crime and distance from the cameras. They then compared it with the average daily crime rate from the period before the cameras were installed.

      They looked at seven types of crime: larcenies, burglaries, motor vehicle theft, assault, robbery, homicide and forcible sex offenses.

      The only positive deterrent effect was the reduction of larcenies within 100 feet of the cameras. No other crimes were affected -- except for homicides, which had an interesting pattern.

      Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras, but the reduction was completely offset by an increase 250 to 500 feet away, suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.
        That is exactly what intuition would tell you should happen :)

        I'm not a big proponent of the CCTV cameras, but I just felt it necessary to point out that the study made no claim about the cameras' ability to deter crime.

        That, and this story just points to some blog. Whoopie.
      • by janrinok (846318) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @03:06AM (#23358994)
        What makes you think that US data is applicable to UK crimes?

        Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras.

        Murder is much less common in the UK than in the US, so much so that every murder is national news. Counting the murders that occur within 250 feet of a camera would probably result in a 0 count. [http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page40.asp]. The total for 2005/2006 is 765 which includes the results of the terrorist attacks in London. Even in a small country like the UK it would be a rare event indeed for a murder to be carried out near to a camera.

        The statistics used also refer to homicide, a term which includes a significant number of deaths that are not murder. For example, illegal immigrants who suffocated in the back of a lorry while travelling to the UK or who died while working illegally in the UK. e.g. the Morecambe Bay disaster in 2004.

    • well the fact that street crime is one of the categories that is increasing, they aren't detering it either.
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        Wouldn't you have to - at the very least - know whether street crime was increasing more in areas without cameras?

        I'm not exactly an advocate of these things, but this blog post was completely tangential to whether or not they work for their intended purpose.
    • The summary is completely wrong and the blog isn't that much better. I can summarise it with:

      - Complaining that CCTV is being used to witness crimes (yes, littering and fouling are crimes)
      - Complaining that the crimes that CCTV is being used to witness aren't important enough
      - Complaining that a law which specifically states that surveillance can be used to solve crimes is being cited when people want to use surveillance to solve crimes

      Of course, the submitter takes an incident where CCTV was used to witnes
  • 1984 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThePiratesWhoDontDoA (1113795) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:15PM (#23356014)
    Wasn't 1984 set in London? This seems awfully scary to me.
    • Re:1984 (Score:5, Informative)

      by mbone (558574) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:21PM (#23356068)
      It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

      Yes, it was set in London. And you can still see the building that suggested the Ministry of Truth to Orwell, just off Tottenham Court Road at UCL (University College London). During World War II it was the Ministry of Propaganda, and Orwell worked there.
    • http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ [craphound.com]

      I would recommend this book for how rapidly scary it can get in this day and age. I couldn't put this book down, everything about it screamed "FOR FUCK'S SAKE, IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!".

  • by mbone (558574) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:18PM (#23356036)
    Anyone who is surprised by this doesn't understand either the police, or politics.
  • Judicious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think "pervasive" is the word. "Judicious" is a word you use to imply a good thing, not the mark of a police state.
  • I, for one, don't consider allowing your dog to shit without cleaning it up, to be a petty crime... Have you seen the size of some of those reeking piles??...
    • Re:Petty crimes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:27PM (#23356120) Homepage Journal
      Its not about dog poo. its about private citizens being spied on with the assumption they are guilty and the loss of reasonable privacy.

      I bet you buy the 'its for the children' nonsence too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by calebt3 (1098475)

        I bet you buy the 'its for the children' nonsence too.
        After all, they walk on sidewalks, too.
      • The UK is a democratic society isn't it? I was under the impression that people voted for the CCTV to be there, and if enough people cared, they could vote it away as well.

        Who are you to impose your view of an ideal society on these people?

        The notion that CCTV will spread and take over the world is absurd, because when CCTV moves in, people opposed enough will move out. Even in the most extreme cases, you will always end up with ares where most of the population is opposed to CCTV, and the legislation wil
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LaskoVortex (1153471)

          I was under the impression that people voted for the CCTV to be there, and if enough people cared, they could vote it away as well.

          It's a lot harder to take a law off the books than it is to put one on. PROOF: number of laws now > number of laws 100 years ago. This formula holds for every stable political system. I know these cameras aren't "laws", but they are evidence of legislation. The problem is that people allow and ask for laws without proper consideration and their rights get nickel-and-dimed away. The price of this erosion of freedom is beginning to show. By the way, I am defining the word "right" as the right to do acti

  • Hot Fuzz (Score:4, Funny)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:20PM (#23356052) Homepage Journal
    Until I read this article, I thought that Hot Fuzz [imdb.com] was a comedy.

    -Peter
  • Waitasec... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:20PM (#23356056)

    It's one thing to argue that the new laws were unnecessary, but are you really saying it's a bad thing to use them to solve other crimes? Yes, they may be trivial crimes listed, but they are still crimes. If the ability is there to solve them, why shouldn't they? I don't want to dodge dog shit every time I walk down the street, and if there was a camera pointed at the area, I think police should look at the footage to see who is doing it.

    • Re:Waitasec... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:54PM (#23356358)

      It's one thing to argue that the new laws were unnecessary, but are you really saying it's a bad thing to use them to solve other crimes? Yes, they may be trivial crimes listed, but they are still crimes.
      I believe the point is that these powers were sold as necissary to battle dire threats. If it turns out that they're only useful for solving petty crime then it raises the question of whether the trade of civil liberty was really worth it.

      Sure - police using the tools they have available to deal with all manner of crime makes sense. Whether they should continue to have access to those tools is the question.
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:24PM (#23356088)
    of the anonymous flaming dog shit bags!!!!!
  • Actually.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wellingtonsteve (892855) <wellingtonsteveNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:28PM (#23356138)
    Actually I'm all for executing* people who don't clear their dog poop :-) As a dog owner I'm fed up of being tarred with the same brush..

    *For those with a sense of humour failure, this is a "joke" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joke [wikipedia.org]
    • I have a neighbor who walked her dog across the street to let it crap on my lawn. I was standing fifteen feet away from her. When I yelled at her, she said, "Sorry," then started to walk away leaving the stinking pile of shit on my lawn. So I hollered at her some more until she went back in her house to get a bag to clear it up. These are the kinds of people in the world.

      I don't really blame the dog so I wouldn't execute it.

      But the owner... hmmm.

      OK OK I kid. People shouldn't be executed for petty things li
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Spatial (1235392)
      Sorry dude, but that wasn't tar...
  • I miss the days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:33PM (#23356172) Homepage Journal
    When I could sit in front of my computer and feel smug when this happened in other countries.
    Hopefully when Bush and his cronies are out of office we can repair the damage and I can once again feel a smug attitude about my country.
    • Re:I miss the days (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:49PM (#23356310)
      In my current job, I've met over 50 Republican members of Congress and leaders of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," all the way back to the source of it all -- Richard Viguerie.

      I remember being a kid and watching Ruby Ridge, Waco, et cetera. I remember going to gunshows with my dad and stocking up on stuff, coming home and watching Red Dawn. I remember hating Bill Clinton and Janet Reno with a passion.

      I most certainly did not feel SMUG about being an American before Bush -- but I can tell you, I did feel PROUD.

      That is now long gone. Between the antics of Bush et al, and the bullshit, lies, half-truths and innuendos I have to endure at work, I am now perhaps the least "conservative" person I deal with on a daily basis anymore.

      I am leaving my job and leaving Washington to go back to school for mechanical engineering (I had started out as a comp sci and bio double the first time, ended coming out with a BA in English 'cause my heart wasn't in it at the time) and doing school right this time.

      I now hate politics with a passion and I can pretty much guarantee that I hate those in power now more than you ever will. I wanted to buy what they were selling before, but now not only do I want my money back, I want to sue for damages.

      I used to be a Ron Paul fan, but even in the last few months I've become so fed up that frankly, I don't want to have anything to do with any of those "let the market sort it out" people who only care what happens to you until you're born, then throw you to the wolves.

      Oh, by the way, they're the wolves.

      The corner stone of the whole operation, the lynch pin, the original vampire, is the National Right to Work foundation. They operate front groups, pimp fake economic numbers, et cetera.

      They're the ones that need to go down first, because they're the ones that have been pushing this crap since the 60s.

      Anyway... sorry for the rant. It's been a long week.
  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:35PM (#23356196) Journal
    Thank got they got their dog poop crime spree under control.
  • Good strategy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iosmart (624285) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:46PM (#23356272)
    It is thought that punishment of petty crimes deters the more violent and dangerous crimes. The reason is that if people see that they can get away with small stuff, they will push the boundaries and see all what else they can get away with. If small crimes are prosecuted, they won't dare try to commit a serious crime. This has been studied with strict treatment of graffiti artists in NY during the 1980s and 1990s. See this book for more information: http://www.gladwell.com/tippingpoint/index.html [gladwell.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      The reason is that if people see that they can get away with small stuff, they will push the boundaries and see all what else they can get away with.

            Are you sure about this theory of yours? Because although I have smoked marijuana in the past, some 20 years ago, and gotten away with it; I haven't really felt the need to kill or rape anyone so far...
      • by argent (18001)
        Because although I have smoked marijuana in the past, some 20 years ago, and gotten away with it; I haven't really felt the need to kill or rape anyone so far...

        What about littering?

        At least it'll be easier to take twenty seven eight by ten color photographs of the quote scene of the crime unquote with CCTV...
  • by QX-Mat (460729) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:48PM (#23356292)
    Available at http://www.noliberties.com/ [noliberties.com]

    and if you're a UK view, for free here,

    http://www.channel4.com/video/true-stories-taking-liberties/catchup.html [channel4.com]

    (WMP11 unfortunately)

    For anyone who's studied the UK constitution, and in particular, Lord Nicholls' dicta in Belmarsh, it is frightening to see so obviously what one Government has done to the UK in a way that will effectively bind successive governments: not for want of power, but for want of justification should they revoke popularist statues that give the illusion of service.

    Matt
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:49PM (#23356306)
    I just wanted to point out that the editors could have inserted several more commas into the title given to this submission, if they'd really tried.
  • It will keep them off my damn lawn!
  • Privacy VS. Security (Score:5, Informative)

    by silentcoder (1241496) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:52PM (#23356344) Homepage
    It's interesting how attitudes differ. People (including in the UK) seem to think the CCTV there is a terrible violation of privacy and the justifications for it, even if true, would be weak. In South Africa, CCTV is profligating faster than that and our tech is actually MORE advanced now. Here, it has gotten nothing but praise. People just don't care about privacy. There is a twofold reason for that I think. The first is that just a generation ago we were living under what was little less than a military dictatorship. A dictatorship that had propaganda SO effective that some people to this day yearn for their rule ! What's worse, people here seem to chaos and order as a black/white thing. Either everybody does what they are told all the time, nothing more, nothing less- or you have complete chaos. The idea of a free society in between those extremes, where the individual's rights matter is basically non-existent. Throw in a massive crime wave, and putting up CCTV will get you hailed as heroes, with nobody wondering if it may be abused. It is scary to see the same thing happening in the UK though - because it removes from the rest of us yet another example of liberty being respected - if the UK with their relatively small crime problems lose it... how will we with a crime wave possibly convince people that the little extra security you may or may not get out of CCTV may not be worth the incredible price we are paying ? We already live in a country where it is now a crime for teenagers under the age of 16 to HUG OR KISS. How long before we have teenagers arrested for making out - and CCTV used to find them/as evidence ? It's no less of a minor crime than dogpoop (of course, the kissing should never have been a crime at all but at least it's classified as minor). The biggest irony of all is, even in South Africa the camera's have not actually had a real positive effect, the criminals simply moved to other neighbourhoods. So the cycle ends up with every street everywhere being under surveillance in the end. 1984 Was not so far fetched.
  • Only Difference (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The only difference between the UK and USA is the UK has the decency to get the police to lock you up, in the USA any major corporation has the power to spy on you and attack you so harshly you have no come back. Welcome to the Digital Millenium Gentlemen.
  • by MLCT (1148749) on Friday May 09, 2008 @07:08PM (#23356460)

    Recent reports in the U.K. media indicate that the laws are being used for everything but terrorism investigations
    "everything but" - well no, actually, that is tabloid style summary hyperbole - in fact it isn't even hyperbole, just plan rubbish.

    The submitter should familiarise themselves with (off the top of my head) three ongoing terrorist trials where CCTV evidence is important to gaining a possible conviction. One in particular, that of the prosecution of associates of the 7th of July London bombers who travelled with them to London in advance to case targets, relies heavily on CCTV to link these people to the bombers, and will help obtain convictions (should that be what the jury decides).

    That is just an ongoing trial, and is publicly known, "terrorism investigations" covers a multitude of unknown (to the public) current investigations - monitoring people who have warranted the attention of the intelligence community.

    But god forbid the truth should get in the way of a hyperactive slashdot submission - desperate for 500 comments of "1984", "slippery slope" and every other cliché under the sun. There may be (and indeed I would personally say, are) valid criticisms of CCTV and how people are monitored in public places - but that debate is entirely short circuited and debased with juvenile submissions like this that are not interested in facts, only hyperbole.
    • by mobby_6kl (668092)
      Ok, so with the tens thousands of cameras and billions of pounds spend, and all they can do is possibly link a bunch of guys who didn't actually do anything themselves to 7/7... after the fact?

      I guess the only way not to get recorded all the time by CCTV is to be a Brazilian electrician. That's the only way to be safe.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MLCT (1148749)

        a bunch of guys who didn't actually do anything themselves

        Nope - a bunch of guys who (allegedly) knew what the 7/7 bombers were going to do in advance and (allegedly) actively helped them to do it. The parenthesised words can be removed if they are convicted.

        I'm not going to stand here and "defend the camera's at all costs" - I don't want to, or believe that they are the all singing all dancing saviours of civil society. What I do want to point out, and did so in my post, was highlight that the reactionary, hyperbole filled junk that characterises so much of

  • Remember (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houghi (78078) on Friday May 09, 2008 @07:11PM (#23356478)
    Remember, remember
    the 5th of November.
    The gunpowder, treason, and plot.
    I know of no reason
    why the gunpowder treason
    should ever be forgot.
  • Dog Fouling is in fact listed in the article. It's not just a creative Slashdot title. This has been a public service announcement.
  • Metaironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hacksoncode (239847) on Friday May 09, 2008 @07:49PM (#23356846)
    People have skirted around this, but I find it interesting to note that the crimes which the UK appears to *actually* be these CCTV cameras against are, in fact, bigger problems for the citizenry than the terrorists and pedophiles which were used to sell it.

    We need a new word for something that's ironic because it is designed to seem ironic but really isn't.

    The meta-irony here comes through in the point that terrorists aren't really a danger to normal people (statistically speaking), and in fact are probably less of a hazard than slipping on dog poop on the sidewalk. But you can get CCTVs pushed through based on the former and not the latter because almost all people have extraordinarily poor risk assessment skills.

    • Re:Metaironic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by startled (144833) on Friday May 09, 2008 @09:10PM (#23357438)
      The meta-irony here comes through in the point that terrorists aren't really a danger to normal people (statistically speaking), and in fact are probably less of a hazard than slipping on dog poop on the sidewalk.

      Are you really making the case that most people in the UK are more likely to be killed by sidewalk dog poop than acts of terrorism? I understand that the likelihood of either is quite low, but I'm still going to have to see a few cases of death by sidewalk poo before I believe they occur with any frequency.
  • Should not it go to "dog's rights online" section?
  • Hello,

    I, like many, have a problem if cameras are used as surveillance tools, i.e. watching in real time what people are doing, either automatically or in a supervised fashion.

    However I have fewer problems with cameras being used in a forensic context, i.e their data is analysed if a crime was committed and we want to catch the culprits, given the existence of a criminal investigation and strict guidelines being followed.

    Now I absolutely hate people who illegally let their dog poop in the middle of the stre
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >>I don't think these cameras who were installed for a loftier purpose should be used to catch them.

      That's like saying, "The 20 new police officers who were hired to help reduce drunk driving should not be used to catch burglars even if they happen to be the closest officer at the time."

      If your job was traffic law enforcer, and you saw a murder, would you just ignore it? What are you trying to say, that you believe that millions of taxpayer euros should be thrown away to prove some kind of point purel
  • R. v. Nature (Score:2, Interesting)

    by billcopc (196330)
    Dogs poop. It happens.

    Stray dogs poop. Slave dogs poop. Why should it matter if the dog has a home ? Pick up the turd and toss it out! If you don't like keeping your property clean, then don't be a property owner!

    Having an officer issue fines over stray poop is yet more proof that society has failed.
  • People who let their animals crap on the pavement or in public parks and don't clear it up should be made to lick up the mess. Curb your animal or let it crap on your own land.

    No, I am not joking.

    If they use CCTV to prosecute people for crimes, why is that a bad thing? That's kinda why it's there.

    If you don't want to be prosecuted then here's an idea, don't break the law.
  • FFS don't bite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mowall (865642) on Friday May 09, 2008 @09:07PM (#23357406)
    I work in the CCTV industry in London and was involved in some of the high-profile terrorist investigations in the last few years so I feel I have to comment.

    There seems to be a media campaign against CCTV which has been amplified recently despite the many successes of which I hear on a daily basis. The reports that I've being reading in the media strike me as being sensationalist and far from what I've been seeing "on the ground".

    The 3 percent figure which was touted the other day is utter rubbish. Maybe 3% of crimes were proven by CCTV, but the vast majority of those were likely to be violent crimes, in which case the police actually bother to obtain the footage. In many other cases CCTV is an enabling factor. For example, if there is a brawl outside a pub in a town or city centre, it is likely to be spotted on camera and the police can respond quickly. When the police arrive, they see the fight, and their visual accounts are sufficient for a prosecution - no need to obtain the footage in many cases. Doesn't mean the CCTV had no input.

    Most of these stories regarding policy are referring to "city centre CCTV" yet they always quote numbers of cameras in total, i.e. including private premises, shops, facilities, etc... In a lot of shops, the cameras are used to settle customer disputes ("I gave you 20 not 10", "Ok sir, let's check the camera and sort it out"), and most importantly, theft by staff. There is certainly a lot of crime committed within private organisations which gets settled behind the scenes, i.e. theiving employee gets fired. I'm sure that doesn't get accounted in the 3 percent figure.

    As just mentioned, these stories focus on city centres. It's not all-pervasive, it's more like: If your dog craps in the high-street or outside the shopping centre (mall to you guys!) you stand the risk of getting punished. The same thing applies to smoking weed and other minor offences. They don't monitor anything except the busy areas where families are out going about their business. If you want a cheeky smoke or underage drink, find somewhere quiet, nobody cares, just don't do it in the main high street. The bottom line is, if it didn't work, the authorities wouldn't keep spending money on it.
  • by antdude (79039) on Friday May 09, 2008 @09:27PM (#23357538) Homepage Journal
    Or do this clever four minutes YouTube music video [youtube.com], from The Get Out Clause [thegetoutclause.co.uk], an unsigned Manchester band who could not afford a camera crew for their video. Its members performed in front of a load of closed circuit television/CCTV [wikipedia.org] cameras, requested the footages from the camera operators under the Data Protection Act [opsi.gov.uk], and stitched the results together for their music video.

    Seen on Boing Boing [boingboing.net].

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