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Talking CCTV to Scold Offenders in UK 486

linumax writes "The most monitored nation of the world is getting an interesting new service. According to a BBC News story, "Talking" CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England.They are already used in Middlesbrough where people seen misbehaving can be told to stop via a loudspeaker, controlled by control centre staff."
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Talking CCTV to Scold Offenders in UK

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  • 23 years off? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:35PM (#18616019)
    'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'

    A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston's body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while the instructress raised her arms above her head and -- one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency -- bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:37PM (#18616041)
    who, while wearing bag over their head, publicly masturbates to one of the scolding cameras goes the contents of my Amazon Mechanical Turk account.
  • by CPE1704TKS ( 995414 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:43PM (#18616101)
    1984 is/was taught in school so that kids would learn that things like that are bad, ie. a totalitarian system, government lies, etc. A big part of 1984 was how monitored people were, and one of the scariest moments for me was when the main character Smith had his own little secret corner of the room where none of the cameras could watch him, and he had his privacy albeit momentarily. The whole point was that this system was horrible!!!

    Yet, somehow, this has morphed into a seemingly-large group of people believe that this is a GOOD thing. A doubleplus good thing. WTF went wrong??? Don't they realize they have become the EXACT thing that George Orwell was warning about??? What happened to the 60 years of knowledge that this book brought us about what life would be like living in a society like this?
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:03AM (#18616265) Homepage Journal
      Maybe it's just inevitable.

      To me the concept of people being free to do whatever they like so long as it doesn't prevent anyone else from doing the same is self evident. Unfortunately, I think the majority of people think the exact opposite: there is a list of things the majority of people believe we should not be allowed to do and there should be perfect enforcement of that list. The absolute tyranny of the majority of the minority is considered by most people to be the best form of government.

      As such, the only arguments you'll see the mainstream make against perfect enforcement is the posibility of corruption or misuse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SerpentMage ( 13390 )
        I think you have this inverted. It is not that the majority wants this, but a minority. Most governments are representational governments and thus authoritarian as the people who represent you are also authorities. When people become authorities they like to dictate terms because they think they know what you want.

        In contrast Switzerland is a true tyranny of the majority and there are many many libertarians in this country that like their privacy. And privacy in Switzerland is part of the constitution (Arti
      • As such, the only arguments you'll see the mainstream make against perfect enforcement is the posibility of corruption or misuse.

        Oh, you mean like how the camera monitors currently pay extra special attention to pretty girls, blacks, and muslims? Now the cameras can make them feel uncomfortable not just by following them, but can spew forth racial slurs and wolf-whistles.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, those people are known as authoratarians. Authoratarianism is a sickness. It's an arrested state of development that prevents the sufferer from
        progressing to full adulthood where they understand their relationship to other human beings and their real responsibilities
        in the world. In this state all reason is by appeal to authority, real or imaginary. It's based on unresolved fear of loss and vulnerability and leads to religious beliefs, superstition and sociopathy. It is possibly a conflicting basis at
    • by rocketman768 ( 838734 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:08AM (#18616305) Homepage
      Hey...hey...I got one:

      In America, you scorn the television.
      In England, television scorns YOU!
    • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:19AM (#18616393)
      It's always for our own good, or so they say. In the US Bush had a lot of Americans convinced giving up civil rights was for their own good. Oddly enough it wasn't americans bombing the Trade Center. It was simply an excuse to take rights away. Britian is doing it for the people's own good but at what price? If the goal is to end all crime then I guess we lojack everyone and place cameras in every home and business. Good news/bad news, they'll catch a whole lot of "criminals" but the bad news is we'll all be guilty. They say ignorance of the law is no excuse but there are tens of thousands of laws on the books and even the police don't know them all. It's impossible to not break laws you aren't even aware exist. Some things are perfectly legal here in one state but are felonies in others. There are even laws in some states governing sexual behavior among consenting adults. There are obscure laws on the books no one is aware of. The point shouldn't be to prosecute every human possible but to maintain order and protect individuals. The government is supposed to protect individuals from each other but if Constitutional law is ignored who will protect the people from the government?
      • if Constitutional law is ignored who will protect the people from the government?
        Eric S. Raymond: Open Source Superconfused and Gun Nut Inadequate.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mike2R ( 721965 )
        That sounds more like an argument for having a more sensible legal code, rather than against CCTV. I reckon you could use the exact same argument against having a police force.
    • by Vskye ( 9079 )
      You know, 1984 this was required reading back in the late 70's when I was in high school. Matter of fact, a lot of the things I was taught are pretty much ignored now days. (such as the holocaust) Personally, I think the British people have put WAY to much trust in their government. And before I get bashed here, I didn't vote for the current government we have in the US, and totally disagree with most of "their" policies. I don't know ANYthing about UK government politics/policies btw.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mike2R ( 721965 )
      People see a distinction between having cameras in a public and private place?

      Shoot me, I don't mind CCTV. In fact I frequently welcome it since it makes places considerably safer. I really don't see the problem with CCTV as it's currently implemented in the UK - it's used in public places and you can see the cameras; 1984 comparisons simply don't work.

      Whatever slashdot thinks, CCTV is generally put up due to public pressure for it, not by some shadowy government group executing a long range plan to o
  • by Chief Wongoller ( 1081431 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:50PM (#18616153)
    Unfortunatly, there has grown up a culture of yobbish behaviour amoung a small but significant minority of manily young people who, for whatever reason, feel the need to express their anti-social anti-establisment feelings at every opportunity. There is a TV program in the UK called "police Camera action" which is a little like America's 'worlds wildest police videos' (or whatever). This has led to an increace of car theft and speeding, wreckess driving etc. also the UK courts award "Anti-social behaviour" (ASBO) notices to yobs who wander the streets drunk or stoned carring out vandalism and other petty thefts. This has led to an increase in crime and the offenders wear these ASBOs as "badges of honour". The types of people whom the talking cameras are targeted at will react with a similar negativity. These yobs will deliberatly act anti-socially so that they can promp a response. Why is all this so? Well in the UK the law gives insufficient protection to the state and the law-abiding masses and too much to the criminals. Crazy eh?
    • by Tim C ( 15259 )
      Well in the UK the law gives insufficient protection to the state and the law-abiding masses and too much to the criminals. Crazy eh?

      You do realise that our prisons are currently full, don't you? We're not locking as many people up as some people would like because there simply isn't space. As you say, a hardcore minority of people treat ASBOs as some kind of badge of honour; given that they can't be jailed and fining them is a waste of time (as they have no substantial assets or money to speak of) and we c
  • by psaunders ( 1069392 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:51PM (#18616167)
    1. Pedestrian is spotted leaving can on bench
    2. Talking Camera: "Please fetch your can."
    3. Talking Camera: "The bin is behind the phone box."
    4. Talking Camera: "Thank you for using the bin."

    5. Pedestrian comes back at 2am and beats Talking Camera to death with cricket bat, or other clubbing instrument of choice.

    • 5. Pedestrian stops complaining about how filthy the beach is and why doesn't the goverment do anything about it.

      Your argument sounds a lot like dog owners who complained about fines for letting their dogs crap on the sidewalk BUT also complained about crap on the sidewalk.

      Is it really that hard to make sure your dog does NOT take a dump were everyone, including yourselve is walking? Is it that hard to drop your litter in a can?

      You see, the problem for me, a middle aged white male, is that I see two choi

      • by 1lus10n ( 586635 )
        Or you could stop relying on the government. Pick up a history book, its literally chalk full of instances of the government/royalty/TPTB abusing things like this. What makes you think you can trust the people operating the cameras ? Whats to say that they dont steal your identity using the data they collect. Whats to say they dont start stalking people. You claim this wont affect you, but it will. The sad part is you wont realize it until its too late.

      • 5. Pedestrian stops complaining about how filthy the beach is and why doesn't the goverment do anything about it.
        Do it like Germans: have a refundable tax on drink containers, which you get back when you bring back the empty bottle or tin to the shop. Result: no more empty beer bottles and tins along the German roads!
  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:51PM (#18616169) Homepage
    the loudspeakers are augmented, for the public good, with servo controlled sedative dart guns?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Dart guns? Nah! You know those guns that shoot out a net? Now that would be so much cooler. And add a target laser. Oh, and make it a gattling gun type of gun. Just picture this:

      Pedestrian litters.
      Camera gives warning.
      Pedestrian ignores camera.
      -Sound of gattling gun reaching operation speed-
      Camera give last warning.
      Pedestrian starts to run away, fearing for his life.
      Camera shoots net and captures pedestrian.

      I can't wait to see the Youtube movies!
  • by KingKaneOfNod ( 583208 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:59PM (#18616225)
    This just reads like a Monty Python sketch to me (sympathies to those who live in the UK and will have to live the joke) ...

    An old man walks up to a street corner, looks around, sees no-one. Ever so slowly he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a cigarette and lighter. He puts the ciggie in his mouth, holds the light up to it, and:

    CAMERA: Oi! You there! Do you really want to do that?
    OLD MAN: What?! Who's there?
    CAMERA: Look up, and a couple of metres to the right.
    OLD MAN looks up and faces the camera.
    CAMERA: You know smoking's bad for you right?
    OLD MAN: I just wanted one, and I can't have them at home because the wife gives me grief.
    CAMERA: Just one??! Just one you say??! You can't have just one, because once you start, you're hooked!
    OLD MAN: I know that, I got hooked a long time ago.
    CAMERA: Well you can get yourself unhooked right now. I won't have your type stinking up my town.
    OLD MAN: I beg your pardon? I live here!
    CAMERA: Not if I can help it! Now clear off before I send out the coppers!
    OLD MAN makes a rude gesture at the camera.
    CAMERA: Right! That's it! You've done it now!
    OLD MAN: Done what? I haven't even got to have my smoke yet!
    CAMERA: Don't play innocent with me, we've got the whole thing recorded.
    Police siren blares.
    OLD MAN: You bastard! All I wanted was a smoke and you call the bloody cops?!
    Police arrive, old man runs off.
    CAMERA: He went that way! After him!
    Not funny? If only it were just a bad joke.
  • I work in a Japanese technology incubator, and one of our researchers has an image recognition program which can remove the human from this loop. The target market is convenience stores and the like, where the camera will watch everyone in the store and, if your movements look "shifty" (via comparison with a couple thousand tapes of people who were later determined to have shoplifted), the shelf will talk to you! Its like a loss-prevention Clippy! "Hello, it looks like you are trying to put that packet o
  • demo man (Score:3, Funny)

    by wolfgang_spangler ( 40539 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:07AM (#18616299) Homepage
    John Spartan, you are fined 10 credits for littering...

  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:07AM (#18616301)
    For once, I'd like to see news of a protest in Britain about all those friggin cameras.
    • Are you silly? Do you want to end up on tape that recorded how you protest... -- oh.
    • From what I can tell, of the few people from Britain that I regularly talk to, is that they really don't care.

      There is sort of an epidemic -- perceived or actual, I don't know, and it hardly matters -- of obnoxious, petty crime, mostly committed by youths, in many British cities. There's the whole "happy slapping" thing, but that's just really the tip of the iceberg, it's just a lot of vandalism, shoplifting, street crime, etc. It's the kind of thing that just really gets to people, because it directly degrades the quality of life when you walk around.

      In some ways, I think it sort of mirrors feelings that people in the U.S. had back around 10-15 years ago, at the height of the violent crime wave in the inner cities, except in Britain it doesn't seem to really be violent crime. (In fact it seems to be the kind of shit that would probably get you shot by one of the more serious criminals here in America -- maybe we have some sort of natural selection in the ghettos here that keeps this stuff to a minimum? Or maybe everyone with the means to in the U.S. abandoned the inner cities so long ago that we just don't notice.)

      But at any rate, the people who have influence -- mostly white, middle income and up -- aren't too bothered, because they're looking rather desperately for any way to knock the "yobs," "chavs," and other varieties of scum in line. There's a sort of (and again, this is just based on the people I've talked with) "well, nothing else has worked, so what the hell" attitude.

      To be honest I can't really blame them. Here in the U.S., there were a lot of Generally Bad Ideas being tossed around back in the 90s before the crime wave crested and began to recede (and I don't think even now there's a clear consensus on why that happened -- some people, the authors of Freakonomics in particular, argue that it was actually the echo of Roe v. Wade from a generation earlier reducing the number of potential criminals; feel free to posit your own theory). If the tide hadn't turned when it did, we'd probably be looking at things like this all over the place right now.
      • A clarification on one sentence:

        But at any rate, the people who have influence -- mostly white, middle income and up -- aren't too bothered by the cameras and other "innovative" policing techniques...

        The way I had it written, made it ambiguous as to whether I was saying that people with influence weren't bothered by the crime or the cameras. I meant the cameras.

        The people I know, who are all over-30, middle- or upper-middle-class whites with families, seem a whole lot more annoyed by the speed cameras (whic
      • by mike2R ( 721965 )
        You pretty much nail it I think. CCTV is simply not seen in the 1984esq light of the typical slashdot story, and "antisocial behavior" (which is a somewhat totalitarian name for it I agree) is/is perceived as a major problem.

        Maybe it's a difference between an armed and unarmed society - a group of 15 year olds is going to think twice about harresing someone who might possibly be carrying a gun.
      • by badfish99 ( 826052 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @03:13AM (#18617371)
        There is sort of an epidemic -- perceived or actual, I don't know, and it hardly matters -- of obnoxious, petty crime

        So, after installing all those cameras, there is an epidemic of exactly the sort of crime that they are supposed to prevent? And the solution is to install more, and more expensive, cameras? It's working well, isn't it?

        It certainly matters whether the epidemic is perceived or actual: no amount of law enforcement is going to reduce crime if the crime is not "actual", but just in the minds of the right-wing press.
      • in the 90s before the crime wave crested and began to recede (and I don't think even now there's a clear consensus on why that happened -- some people, the authors of Freakonomics in particular, argue that it was actually the echo of Roe v. Wade from a generation earlier reducing the number of potential criminals; feel free to posit your own theory).

        DeoxyriboNucleic Acid profiling: "DNA profiling was developed in 1984 by British geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys,[107] and first used in forensic science to convi

      • It's not just us whiteys. The minorities I've talked to really dislike the current youth behaviour and also pretty much want any way to stop it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arkhan_jg ( 618674 )
      Mainly because the people who oppose have given up. 2 million people marched in peaceful protest against British involvement in the Iraq war in London alone; The US equivalent in population size would be 10 million on the streets of Washington. It had absolutely zero effect.

      Near 2 million people signed a petition on the governments own website opposing per-mile road charging plans (likely enforced by satellite trackers) and the government's response was basically 'you don't understand, we have to do this, s
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of the biggest issues I have:
        Why are there so many people who don't know how to behave on their own? What are mothers teaching these days?
  • One of the things that it screams at people is
    "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"
  • "CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England."

    Will one of those be Buckingham Palace? "Oooi! Prince Harry! Put out that fatty!"
    Follow a recent royal tradition "Pardon Guvnor! That lady most certainly is not your wife!"
    Or "Horses *must* be housed in the stable! Oh sorry, 'Mam"

    Realistically: One of the guards will leave the loudspeaker on:
    "Cor Blimey! Check out the norks on that bird. Would love to get me some of that crum
  • They need to add a laser to the camera mount. Something with enough power to inflict a minor burn. Dump your trash on the street? ZAP!
  • by Omicron32 ( 646469 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @03:09AM (#18617355)
    I'm from Warrington, in Cheshire, and they have these in place already. People are starting to complain about them though.

    The only one I've seen so far (at least, the only place I've seen it 'triggered') is in the outdoor centre bit of our local shopping center, where there is a pub and some construction work going on. A few friends and I came out of the pub a bit drunk and saw some "wet floor" type cones lying around... anyway, so yeah, we're messing with these cones in a non-destructive way (just putting them on our heads - hey, look, we were drunk, stfu) and then this booming yet completely intelligible voice starts talking to us telling us to put the cones down!

    Over Christmas they had a fake ice rink there and they kept telling people to get off it at night.

    We're not sure where the speaker itself is, but pretty much every place in town is covered by cameras. I'm pretty sure that's not the only place they cover with these things. Having read 1984, it's extremely disturbing.

  • Being beaten up at night is not a right that I want preserving. Cameras have cut crime. and you know, I like my safe-feeling. I live in the UK but my only experience of mugging was Los Angeles and Paris. The British would get upset if someone tried to take away important rights. If some religion-inspired leader told us that we cannot buy alcohol until the age of 21. We'd say "What is this? Some kind of Police state?".
    • That's nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cheros ( 223479 )
      Walking alone at night in Singapore or Zurich feels a truckload safer than London. In both those places you can see kids as young as 8 travel independently (without parents) to their friends and school and walk around in freedom - I wouldn't recommend that in London either.

      Yet both those nations are not so nannied and camera infested as the UK - explain?

      the only difference I can see straight away is that the police in those places is (a) very available and (b) doesn't take any BS. Oh, and public transport
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @05:44AM (#18618019) Journal
    ...of standing with my back to CCTV cameras, slightly bent over with my legs should-width apart, shaking about a bit while holding a bottle of water upside-down at waist height with both hands.
  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @07:02AM (#18618395) Journal
    Went there once on a 6 month contract...

    Likely message from the cameras...

    "Hey, you...What you doing climbing the camera pole..yes you in the football shirt (half of Middlesbrough turns around thinking it's them)..put down those bolt cutters...this is police property and...hey..what's that sound? Are you cutting my brackets...I'm warning you, there's a car on its way...stop that right now...don't you know these cameras are very hard to resell...we have the serial number&*£(...."

  • by Saunalainen ( 627977 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @07:23AM (#18618503)

    What worries me isn't so much the invasion of privacy by CCTV, or being patronised by being told to pick up litter, but rather that this technology threatens to render CCTV ineffective.

    CCTV is pervasive in British cities, but there are too many cameras and too few operatives for every camera to be monitored all the time. Criminals are deterred by the uncertainty of whether they are being watched. However, once CCTV becomes reactive, the absence of a verbal warning could be taken as confirmation that you are not being watched.

    Suppose you're a would-be mugger in the centre of Midlesborough. You drop some litter and mess about with traffic cones, and if there's no verbal warning then you know there's a good chance that you're invisible to surveillance for the time being. Knowing you're relatively safe from being caught, you can now select your victim with impunity.

  • How many cameras are surrounding the estates of the wealthy who actually steal real money? I'd imagine if any exist, they point out at the hoi polloi, never in at the lives of the powerful, who never are monitored without their consent.

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