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Councils Recruit Unpaid Volunteers To Spy On Their Neighbors 521

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the this-sounds-familiar dept.
Several readers have written to tell us that a recent move in the UK has councils relying on info from "Citizen Snoopers" to report the transgressions of their neighbors. Currently only implemented as "environment volunteers" designed to keep watch on things like litter, dog habits, and improper trash sorting, there is a certain amount of trepidation that this could grow into something more sinister. "It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society, following the revelation this week that the Home Office is extending some police powers to council staff and private security guards. Critics said the latest scheme could easily be abused and encourage a culture of bin spies and curtain twitchers. Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Snooping on your neighbors to report recycling infringements sounds like something straight out of the East German Stasi's copybook.'"
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Councils Recruit Unpaid Volunteers To Spy On Their Neighbors

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  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:49AM (#24829959)

    I know its fashionable to see the UK government as a bunch of closet dictators , but really this is more about money - or lack of. Rather than it being the beginning of the UKs version of the Stasi its simply a case of the government not wanting to cough up cash for real police so they hope they can fob us off with cut price gimmicks like this. They've already given us the Community Support Officer (the plastic police) which is effectively a policeman with limited powers - and crucially a lower salary , but by getting the curtain twitcher types to report on people they don't have to pay any salary.

    Of course what will happen to a private civilian with no backup or weapons of any sort trying to stop or ticket some 250lb drunk lout with attitude chucking his beer can over a fence is anyones guess...

    • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:54AM (#24830029)

      They've already given us the Community Support Officer (the plastic police) which is effectively a policeman with limited powers - and crucially a lower salary

      Sorry I have to beg to differ, The phrase is Glorified Traffic Warden

      • by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:19AM (#24830233)

        Really? I thought it was Brainless Womble

        • by Bazman (4849) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:46AM (#24830517) Journal

          I like 'improper copper'.

          • by aproposofwhat (1019098) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:04AM (#24830699)
            I prefer "plastic plod"
            • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:17AM (#24830833) Homepage

              "Hobby Bobby", although that's more often used for a "Special Constable"

              • by MindKata (957167) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:48AM (#24831995) Journal
                From the article...
                "The 'covert human intelligence sources' keep watch on suspected law-breakers"
                "Volunteers will be involved in reporting issues in their area"
                "The recruits will also be involved in the 'promotion of recycling and waste minimisation"

                Sounds more like "Thought Police" than Special Constables.

                For example...
                "Snooping on your neighbours to report recycling infringements" - i.e. Watching others.
                "Volunteers will be involved in reporting issues in their area" - i.e. Reporting others.
                "The recruits will also be involved in the 'promotion of recycling and waste minimisation" - i.e. Changing how people think and so behave.

                So its far more like "Thought Police". Yeah they are there to protect us all, so its good warm feelings for all of us. Yeah right. The problem is this new Thought Police are also there to enforce whatever new rules petty councils think up. As usual the minority of power seekers, who seek to dictate rules and terms to others, also seek to encourage and lead their mini armies of sheep minded people to follow what they want. (Power seekers are sadly so predictable. Their names and ideas change thoughout history, and from country to country, but what always remains, is their constant need to find ever more ways to dictate their rules to others and always, ultimately they are the ones who gain from their power seeking, even these want-to-be petty council dictators with their free army of sheep minded people).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        two words from the beautiful german language:

        "Blockwart", a low ranking official in the german nazi party whos job was to be a link (read: spy on and report to) between the neighborhood and the party/ secret police.

        "AbschnittsbevollmÃchtigter", the eastern german continuation of a fellow totalitarian tradition, namely the "Blockwart".

        • by camelrider (46141) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:57AM (#24830621)

          Reaction to the same activity in Budapest was a major tipping point in the uprising of the late 1950's.

          While it became an anti-USSR movement the initial disorder was the sometimes violent reaction to local block monitors by fed-up citizens, according to some of my friends who were there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by foobsr (693224)
          Not so sure whether German is a beautiful language, but I well remember that my mother refused to talk at normal loudness level at home due to implanted fears of being spied upon (I am born 1951). On a broader level, this transformed into a variety of conditions like depression, anxiety etc. to be found within the 'post-war generation" here.

          CC.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364)

        Sorry I have to beg to differ, The phrase is Glorified Traffic Warden.

        So you're suggesting that no one should worry about Citizen Snoopers until someone in power (and unfamiliar with history) enacts a law requiring all transgressors to attend mandatory re-education camps?

        Dear God, man! Have you ever been to Traffic School before? I have, and I can say that it's the social indoctrination equivalent of waterboarding, but the torture is spread out over a long number of hours, but with a coffee break in betwe

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Community Support Officers make a lot of sense. When the public were asked what they wanted they said they said they wanted to see more police officers. They didn't say they wanted police officers to solve more crimes just that when they were out and about they wanted to be able to see police officers.
      Given that it is very rare for a police officer to actually see a crime being committed when they are just walking around it really doesn't make sense to spend tax payers money on fully fledged police officers

      • by xaxa (988988) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:35AM (#24830397)

        You are right!

        I was recently sent a survey from the police. It asked if I'd seen any policemen walking round recently, which I had. They wanted to know if I felt much safer, a little safer, or no safer. I crossed that out and wrote that I felt less safe -- I'd wondered what was going on that required police to be walking past my house.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's good that you are trying to add some info to the survey, while perhaps making a point, but unfortunately the way surveys work is that the data is inputted into a database. This means that extra or unsupported data is not collected. Your comment was discarded. Sorry.

          • Surveys (Score:5, Informative)

            by Arker (91948) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:56AM (#24832133) Homepage

            It's good that you are trying to add some info to the survey, while perhaps making a point, but unfortunately the way surveys work is that the data is inputted into a database. This means that extra or unsupported data is not collected. Your comment was discarded. Sorry.

            Not necessarily true. A proper study design will *always* allow for this sort of input. At the very least, someone will collate any such write-ins that they get and account for them. Afterwards there's a chance that the analysts may then go ahead and decide that it's noise and disregard it, but they can only do that AFTER tallying up this and any other write-ins. IF they get a significant number of write-in answers, particularly a significant number with the same or very similar answer, the database will have to be altered to account for them, and in the report it will have to be noted that there was this unexpected response, which was statistically significant, and which might likely have been even more significant had it not required a write-in to record. The next iteration of the survey should then have that response available without a write-in.

            This is the proper way to do it. I'm not saying there arent fly-by-night survey outfits that cut corners, and I'm not saying it's impossible that some of them cut this particular corner - but to do otherwise is disreputable and scientifically unsound.

        • by damburger (981828) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:19AM (#24830861)
          They might visit you for that. The police are good at fishing out easy convictions; they often go after 'chavs' and intimidate them until they either strike the officer or try to resist arrest - because both of those things will get put through a magistrates court in about 30 seconds - whereas many more serious crimes like domestic assaults are very difficult to get a conviction out of because the victim usually retracts the accusation. Having worked for the police doing paperwork, I got really fucked off with the phrase 'hes OK when he isnt drinking/smoking crack'...
    • by Candid88 (1292486) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:25AM (#24830303)

      It does seem to have become a Slashdot theme of late.

      Something I've noticed though is that the vast majority of the "horrific loss of privacy in Britain" stories refer to proposed ideas, often by people low down in their government whose job it is to think up new ideas (whether good or - as is most often the case - bad) but few of which have yet shown any real signs of actually being implemented.

      Here, Bush prefers doing these sort of things in secret and using every dirty trick in the book to keep it secret. I'd prefer to have my government announcing plans which will infringe on my privacy before they are implemented rather than them being uncovered by reporters several years in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by internewt (640704)

        It does seem to have become a Slashdot theme of late.

        Something I've noticed though is that the vast majority of the "horrific loss of privacy in Britain" stories refer to proposed ideas, often by people low down in their government whose job it is to think up new ideas (whether good or - as is most often the case - bad) but few of which have yet shown any real signs of actually being implemented.

        The current UK government loves its PR and spin, and seems to have a technique for breaking bad news to the public.

        Far too often the government has a "leak" of a proposed new scheme, to let the press have a field day bitching about it (and people on internet forums, and discussions in the pub). There will then usually be a statement from a minister or someone, who will turn a around and say "it was a leak, so it wasn't official policy, what we want to do only XYZ to fight terror/protect the children/fight o

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rapiddescent (572442)

      funnily enough, I was out as an observer on Saturday night with our local Community Officers as a "Community Council" representative in our town (popn 20,000), aka unpaid volunteer as per article. In Scotland, the community police are real police officers and are used for city centre crime and so on. They are not armed and many police officers here do not want to be armed. The PC I was with said the best weapon he had was his voice.

      Whilst I was with them, it was mostly drunken & disordly, one drugs

  • hm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:49AM (#24829961)
    Reminds me of the kids in 1984 spying on their parents and reporting on the poor Parsons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why reference a work of fiction? The Nazi government encouraged citizens to report each other as well, and ironically, the Nazis launched missiles at and dropped bombs on England.
  • Whats so special? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:50AM (#24829967) Homepage Journal

    Here in Michigan we also do this. If your neighbor wont cut his grass in a timely manner there is usually a municipal number you can call. The city agents will come out and issue a fine. This applies to more than grass though. Animals, noise, etc. If there it is a "private" neighborhood then you can have other things written into the charter or whatever its called for that area.

    Its really only concerned with property related things though. If you see your neighbor growing pot plants, you'd have to find another number to call...

    • Pot Plants? (Score:5, Funny)

      by msgmonkey (599753) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:01AM (#24830077)

      Growing things in pots is a transgression in Michigan?

    • by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:05AM (#24830107)
      WTF. You actually have a law for ... cutting grass in a timely fashion??? Is that a normal thing in the US, or is it something that you only find in certain towns/cities?
      • Get off YOUR lawn (Score:4, Informative)

        by stupidflanders (1230894) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:21AM (#24830267)
        These are usually local ordinances. They are fairly rare as whole cities go, but if you live in a community with a "Homeowners Association" then they can have all sorts of crazy "laws" [youtube.com]. Junk vehicles in your driveway, bushes are too high, need to rake leaves, children are ugly, daughter is a floozy, etc. More often than not, the elderly are in charge of the Homeowner's Association, and spend their days looking through binoculars to see if that no-good 30-something couple's dog is making on their lawn again... and they didn't pick it up!

        Welcome to The 'Burb's [imdb.com].
      • Re:Whats so special? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:24AM (#24830291)

        Actually, the US does seem to have a much stronger sense of 'keep your local suburb/community respectable looking' than other countries I've lived in. (Lived in Australia, US, UK and Japan for various periods in my life)

        I'm Australian by birth and the lawns here (Canberra) are mostly awful. Full of weeds, some are never mowed, most are dying because of the drought anyway.

        In the US though (or at least in suburban Wisconsin and Illinois where I have been), everyone's lawn is immaculate. It's sorta freaky actually ... house after house of perfectly cut, beautifully lush green grass. First time I went there I actually said "omg, I thought it only looked like this in movies - it's actually like this??".

        Whereas in Australia you can guarantee every 3rd or so house is a complete dump, old rusting cars parked out the front and piles of weeds and dirt.

        This responsibility to your community extends into winter. I was interested to learn that homeowners have a ~legal obligation~ to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their house within x hours of a snowfall, in the US. That kind of law would never, ever exist in Australia. Half of us just don't care about our yard or what it looks like.

        But interestingly, in every other respect though, Australia is WAY more regulated than the US. Americans just love their lawns, I guess (and they have the climate to support growing a great one).

        • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:13AM (#24830785)

          I don't understand why you put lawn care and snow clearing in the same category.

          Lawn care is pure eye candy. It hurts nobody to let your lawn go to hell, except that it looks bad and poor weak-brained people can't withstand that.

          Snow clearing is important to allow the sidewalks to remain open and functional. It's no fun to have to wade through deep snow to get to where you're going. You essentially have charge of a public pedestrian road, so it's your responsibility to keep it passable.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Lawn care is pure eye candy. It hurts nobody to let your lawn go to hell, except that it looks bad and poor weak-brained people can't withstand that.

            Well, it depends on what part of the country you are in. In my area, near the swamps, if you don't maintain your lawn, pine straw and grass will build up very quickly. Very quickly, you will find your home and neighbor's property (if close, like in a subdivision) full of cockroaches, ants, and mice.

            I do agree, though. Places with more arid climates seem to do this sort of thing more for the sake of vanity. But I say that being unaware of what sort of pitfalls a lot of growth near housing structures come wit

    • by knaapie (214889) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:06AM (#24830119) Homepage

      Ehm, if you fail to cut your 'grass' you get a fine, but you're suspicious when you grow pot plants?
      I must say I fail to see the logic.....

    • by ultranova (717540) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:12AM (#24830173)

      Here in Michigan we also do this. If your neighbor wont cut his grass in a timely manner there is usually a municipal number you can call. The city agents will come out and issue a fine.

      The Land of the Free, where the allowable length of the grass in your yard is regulated. But as long as you don't have free public healthcare like we have here in the evil socialist countries, I guess it's okay.

      I wonder if some libertarian will reply and rave about the evils of socialized healthcare while ignoring the grass-trimming regulations...

      • by grahamd0 (1129971) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:34AM (#24830389)

        The Land of the Free, where the allowable length of the grass in your yard is regulated. But as long as you don't have free public healthcare like we have here in the evil socialist countries, I guess it's okay.

        I support public healthcare, but calling it "free" is disingenuous.

        And yes, the grass thing is stupid.

        • by Scudsucker (17617) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:18AM (#24830841) Homepage Journal

          I support public healthcare, but calling it "free" is disingenuous.

          No, it's not - when people say free health care, they mean free to use, like your local library or an interstate highway.

      • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:09AM (#24830743) Homepage

        The Land of the Free

        Errrm.. You mean Land of the Fee.

      • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:11AM (#24830771) Homepage

        Funny?

        That's bloody insightful.

        Americans have a pretty bizarre idea of freedom (not to mention, a complete lack of awareness and/or understanding of the world around them)

        Even the libertarians seem to have absolutely no problem outlawing abortion, regulating marriage, or giving state and local governments as much power as they please.

  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:50AM (#24829969) Homepage Journal

    Like fuck it won't.

    I don't like my neighbour, the dog. Yup, the neighbour didn't clean up after their dog.

    Yes, they are not sorting their recycling.

    This sort of shit moves society away from an open society to a society of fear. I would have thought that getting people to work together and trust each other (and deserve that trust) would be much better then getting them to mistrust and fear their neighbours.

    Same sort of shit where doctors for children and podiatrists are mistaken for "paedophiles".

    • by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:14AM (#24830189)

      Face it, our society is broken. (I'm British).

      The place is full of busybodies and curtain twitchers, people who think they know best, the "think of the children" pro-censorship crowd, the people who fully support the government's creeping "terror" legislation (yes they exist, in droves. Only bad people fall under suspicion, remember?), reactionary anti-europeans and nationalists (I agree the EU has problems, but the "they'll never take our pound!" crowd piss me off)...

      That's coupled with a government who run the country by knee-jerk and grant themselves ever more power, money and manpower, bring in badly defined bans (extreme porn anyone?) and seem to get off on stripping us of rights.

      The law is out of touch with reality and with society; though if it actually reflected the people we'd all be in trouble too, hanging would be back in a week. OTOH if the law was actually sensible and the government stopped their weekly crackdowns on freedom then more people might start to respect it and not just break the law and disregard everyone else. Currently the attitude seems to be "Everything's iullegal, so I'll just do what the hell I like when I think I have a chance not to be caught".

      No politician has the balls to do what needs to be done though (legalise drugs, review speed limits, take away hundreds of little pieces of legislated social engineering, castrate and massively cull the public sector), so IMHO we're fucked.

      Frankly I'm getting the hell out of here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        Although I'll agree with you for a large part, the British politicians do still seem to have the country's best interests at heart.

        Some things aren't too bad. CCTV in public places honestly doesn't bother me, and the speed cameras allow police to focus on more important issues than patrolling the motorways.

        In America, those "good interests" were lost to corporate interests many years ago. Hell, we're involved in a war that virtually everyone agrees will harm the country as a whole.

        So, as long as Britain s

      • by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:37AM (#24831067) Homepage Journal

        I remember a time when I actually believed we lived in an enlightened time, a time where tolerance and liberal ideals were being enacted - equality for women and people of different ethnicities and gay people.

        And I look around now and I see growing intolerace, authoritarianism.

        Where once I saw a news report about North Korea where it seemed shocking that they couldn't use a public phone box without fear of being listened in on by their government, I see that now I live in a country that spies on my email contacts and who I'm in touch with over the phone and what websites I visit (and so technically what newspapers I may read and where my political sympathies may lie).

        I wonder how long it'll be before we get the formation of the first Anti-Sex League?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:27AM (#24830321)
      I'm from Romania and I remember the way it was before the 1989 revolution, during the communism years. The biggest differences are that the people that would spy on you were getting paid for that and you'd get burned if anyone heard you say anything about the regime. FTFA, criticizing the current regime won't get your ass in jail and these people aren't getting paid to spy on you; other than that it's just the way it was pre-1989 Romania. - Anonymous Coward for a good reason.
  • Unpaid volunteers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Errtu76 (776778) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:50AM (#24829973) Journal

    Isn't voluntary work by definition unpaid?

  • I'll just tick that off my "You know when your country resembles the novel 1984 when..." list

    Right, I'm off down the pub for a quick 1/2 litre.

  • by dattaway (3088) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:52AM (#24829995) Homepage Journal

    Don't worry. I have a drug house in front of mine. That means we get a lot of vandalism, theft, noise, car crashes, and a loss of sleep at night. So I bought a top of the line camera ($2500) to catch the action and turn it into the police. They like the pretty pictures of the drugs and cash trading hands, but after a few months, the drug house is still going strong:

    http://rs6.risingnet.net/~dattaway/shame [risingnet.net]

    Here's the Axis network webcam for you to play with (you'll quickly find out I'm in the USA where bandwidth SUCKS!)

    http://www.dattaway.net/ [dattaway.net]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dunnius (1298159)
      The police are interested in the smaller crimes that make their area lots of money rather than major crimes that hurt people. In California, they are more interested in people talking on cell phones than actual crimes. I have multiple drug houses in my area and nothing seems to be done about it.
  • Germany, Hilter, gestapo, WWII.

    Britian, Brown, Citizen Snoopers, ...

    Sounding familiar?

  • Simon Pegg will show up as the big city cop in a small town that takes his job too seriously and brings down the corrupt and evil snoopers.

    Or

    John Hurt's neighbor's kids will overhear their father talking anti-government in his sleep and they'll turn him in for re-education by the system, and the big evil system will continue on it's merry way.

    I'm hoping more "Hot Fuzz" than "1984" on this one.
  • 1984 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elh_inny (557966) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:53AM (#24830019) Homepage Journal

    Why is it that UK seems to lead in privacy-crippling, big-brother style techniques?
    All corners covered, CCTV, spying on each other and clearly, there's still no good evidence of any of this wrking twards any good results...

    From my experience, if there are some really bad things happening, neighbour will not report, being too scared.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828)

      Its about control. The psychos in charge of the country believe the way to make things better is to measure them, and then work to create quantitative improvements in the chosen metric. This is how we ended up with shit like the 'Rural vibrancy index' which incorporates the 'birdsong index'.

      When these hair-brained classification and target schemes inevitably die on their arse (as any such attempt to reduce the complexity of human society to a number of arbitrary measurements will) the government decides tha

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's pretty bad in many places, my home town, along with about twenty others has CCTV cameras with speakers [homeoffice.gov.uk] on them. They are used to disperse crowds and complain about littering or all manner of other things. The curious thing is, despite the heavy coverage they have done nothing to prevent numerous assaults, rapes or other violent incidents and quite often fail to produce useful evidence - which was the main argument for their introduction.
  • Big Brother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:54AM (#24830027)

    It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society

    Uh, perhaps some people need to read 1984 again. By the time people start "informing" on one another, Big Brother is already here. "Lurching"? More like "Arrived".

    Britain is lost behind an iron curtain of it's own making.

  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by upside (574799) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:55AM (#24830035) Journal

    I think it's sad when people can't behave responsibly without being snooped upon, whether it's the police or neighbours.

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:03AM (#24830087)

      i think it's sad that there are legions of people willing to report each other to the authorities over pretty much nothing.

      And laws? We have too many, and the more the petty laws are enforced on normal people (especially with most in the UK seem to think the police are woefully inadequate at dealing with "real" crime) the more people will get pissed off and start to ignore the law completely.

  • already happening (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:58AM (#24830059) Journal

    I purchased a car a few months ago.
    It didn't have any tax when I got it.
    I had it parked on the side of the road for 2 days whilst I was waiting for my insurance documents to come through so that I can get tax (it's impossible to get tax without insurance).
    I was in a catch 22 situation, it was impossible for me to get tax.
    Anyhow, one of my neighbours dutifully phoned up the DVLA (a government agency) who promptly clamped my car and gave me a £200 fine which I payed promptly.
    A few weeks later I received another letter from the DVLA this time threatening to fine me £83 for not licensing my vehicle or they were going to take me to court.

    I'm going to go to court as I hope that the judge will see that they put me in an impossible situation (but I expect I'll probably end up having to pay an even larger fine)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by badfish99 (826052)

      If you drove the car to your road without tax or insurance, that was already illegal. You should have arranged tax and insurance before buying it. Insurance companies will fax documents to you if you are in a hurry, or else an insurance broker could issue a cover note on the spot.
      If you still have not taxed your car after a few weeks, perhaps you are not really trying?

    • I had it parked on the side of the road for 2 days ...

      Sorry, mate, you are shit-out-of-luck. You may not park an unlicensed (taxed) vehicle in a public place. The law is quite clear on this point.

      So, you have a vehicle with nowhere to park it, kind of short sighted of you, isn't it ?
  • Switzerland (Score:3, Informative)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:06AM (#24830121)

    I have a friend who lives in Switzerland who says that getting reported to the authorities by your neighbours for petty rule violations is a fairly common occurrence there.

  • by onion2k (203094) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:13AM (#24830181) Homepage

    "In Hampshire, Eastleigh council wants locals to 'monitor local environmental quality' and report 'issues' involving recycling and waste."

    If you take the single quotes out and read it without your tin foil hat on there's nothing to object to. It's just the council asking for people to report problems which they'll then look into. Surely every local government in the world does that.

    • If you take the single quotes out and read it without your tin foil hat on there's nothing to object to. It's just the council asking for people to report problems which they'll then look into. Surely every local government in the world does that.

      Eventually people will learn that tin foil, (in its metaphoric state), is a healthy additive in any mental diet.

      I'm guessing that this lesson won't sink in until those people find themselves on the wrong side of some barbed wire. But we don't like to think of such

  • by Ganty (1223066)

    This rubbish is the sort of thing that made me leave the UK eight years ago. Right now I'm a couple of thousand miles away and I couldn't be happier.

    Ganty

  • by Z-MaxX (712880) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:15AM (#24830203) Journal

    My parents recently returned from a trip that included visiting Croatia and Serbia. One of the things that touched them the most was the tall, gray, nondescript cement block apartment buildings that stretched for miles and miles, built by the fascist communist government. In these dreary buildings, the interior walls were intentionally built thinner than usual. It was not only for cost reasons, however... it is said that over 50% of people eavesdropped on and informed on their neighbors to the communist government, and the paper-thin walls made it so that people had to constantly whisper for fear of being overheard.

    • by value_added (719364) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:36AM (#24830421)

      it is said that over 50% of people eavesdropped on and informed on their neighbors to the communist government, and the paper-thin walls made it so that people had to constantly whisper for fear of being overheard.

      My parents were from that generation. Despite the fact that they had moved to a new continent and that Tito was long dead, politics, even American politics, was always discussed in hushed tones. And then, never over the telephone.

  • by TimberManiac (851670) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:16AM (#24830205)
    Betray your family and friends. Fabulous prizes to be won! And don't forget to vote fascist for a third glorious decade of total law enforcement.
  • by Butisol (994224) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:21AM (#24830265)
    This isn't something to worry about if you're rich. No one's going to come out to your country estate and spy to make sure that your caviar jar is sorted into the glass recycling bin. See, creeping fascism isn't about government trying to control everyone, it's about motivating us to become better (that is, rich) so we don't have to worry about such things. I'm glad when governments care so much about encouraging their citizens to reach their full potential.
  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:24AM (#24830289)

    The core of the problem is there is no duty to recycle. No one sees a problem with neighbor reporting a murder, yet you seem to see a problem with neighbor reporting failure to recycle.

    The problem is not with the denunciation per se, but the fact that the law is unjust, and the sole result of a coercive monopoly on trash collection, aided by an ecological agenda undermining individual freedom.

    You should have screamed when recycling became mandatory, you should have screamed at the monopoly on roads and trash collection.

    Obviously the danger with these schemes is that the government will push more unjust law, and use its own citizens to report on other's violations.

    The only way this works is because people have a false reverence towards the state, they believe that by making law, it has the power to make just what is unjust, and unjust what is just.

    From experience, most people on Slashdot have a good intuition, nevertheless when pressed a little they fall back on a positivist view of law, giving governments the authority to define what is and is not a crime for example. Sad.

  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:40AM (#24830459) Homepage

    "It's for the greater good." Did none of these idiots see "Hot Fuzz"??? Sheesh!

  • by Whatever Fits (262060) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:43AM (#24830485) Homepage Journal

    Here we call it Home Owner's Associations. They have the legal right to lien your house if you don't cut your lawn. In my experience, the "police" for these groups are bored, older, retired people who volunteer to spy on their neighbors, their neighbor's neighbors, etc. Did I mention they were bored?

  • Switzerland (Score:4, Informative)

    by carvalhao (774969) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:01AM (#24830671) Journal
    This is already common practice in Switzerland, where your neighbor will turn you in for not having you car's road tax updated even though you don't drive and your car is parked in the common building garage or you have the crazy idea of flushing the toilet after 22 h. Yes, both are actual examples...
  • Hello? 999? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Clever7Devil (985356) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:34PM (#24833855)

    My neighbour is spying on me!

    How do you mean sir?

    Well, see, I was peaking out my curtain...

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

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