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The Laz Word.... on CCTV

Larry Neild wonders if the cameras are prying too far

Written by . Published on August 17th 2012.


The Laz Word.... on CCTV

AN Asda customer was arrested for drink driving after police were alerted by supermarket security staff who smelled booze on his breath. 

It was the latest swoop in St Helens, the town that seems to have transformed itself into a true life version of the Truman story. 

In St Helens, the cameras have netted a driver not wearing a seat belt, and somebody using a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle

Closed circuit TV cameras are being used to zoom in on wrongdoers, with the long arm of the law ready to swoop. 

It poses the question: What are those spy in the sky cameras really for?

Many people feel content that the presence of the eagle-eyed cameras are there to ensure public safety and to avert disorder. 

In St Helens, the cameras have netted a driver not wearing a seat belt, and somebody using a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Not exactly Old Bailey stuff, but could this high level spying actually deter people from venturing into the town centre? 

St HelensSt Helens

Even law abiding people may be reluctant to venture into a town where cameras are watching everyone, even for what are considered to be minor offences. 

Perhaps they should erect signs at the borough boundary … smile (but keep your eyes on the road) you’re on our candid camera. 

St Helens Council says more offenders are getting caught on camera as part of a fight against crime and anti-social behaviour. Here's the latest dossier:

  • Security staff at Asda in the town centre alerted CCTV staff to a male customer, smelling of alcohol, who had left their store. A St Helens Chamber Shopwatch radio system is used to keep in touch with the CCTV office and inform staff of the male’s actions. He is watched wandering around the car park in an apparent attempt to locate his vehicle. When he eventually leaves, police officers stop him and he is arrested for drink driving. A test reveals he is well over the legal limit and is charged.

  • Police share intelligence with CCTV staff about a vehicle acting suspiciously. They ask to be informed if the car is seen on camera. CCTV staff spot the car and inform the police. The male is using a mobile telephone and this info is relayed to the police. Using this valuable intelligence from the camera operators, officers issue a £60 penalty to the driver who also gets three penalty points.

  • Cameras being monitored by staff observe a male and female in a black Ford vehicle. This Bonnie and Clyde are not wearing seat belts and police are alerted. Two fixed penalty tickets are issued.

    The cameras also help in the arrest of a man ejected from a local pub, arrested for drunk and disorder and a second man thrown out of a bar by staff who (rightly) suspect he has drugs. 

Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Cabinet Member for Environmental Protection and Safer Communities said: "The close partnership working underlines how our bank of CCTVs are helping to make our town centre and streets safer for the benefit of residents and people who shop and visit our town." 

It proves one thing ….with modern camera technology there’s no hiding place. 

Question …. Would this high level of CCTV surveillance put you off visiting St Helens?

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2012.

I'm pretty sure that we dont want drunk drivers or mobile phone using drivers on the roads they endanger our lives and it seems a perfectly sensible use of the cameras to prevent those sorts of crimes.

However personal freedom is crucial for a democratic society and what matters with cameras isnt these live action bits of crime prevention its what happens to all the images and data afterwards, where are they stored? for how long? who has accsess? is it combines with other information like numberplate cameras is somone or could somone use this to follow your daily movements.

Also laz does liverpool city centre have the same similar set up? Isnt that one of the reasons it has a reputation for being a safe night out?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 17th 2012.

Liverpool City Centre has loads of CCTV cameras, but funny enough I've never felt threatened by the sight of somebody using a mobile phone whilst driving or not wearing a seatbelt. I'll have to be more careful for these miscreants when I am out and about. I've been living dangerously without realising it.

AnonymousAugust 20th 2012.

I've been nearly run down by a driver using a mobile phone in Wood Street. I was crossing the road when he tore around the corner driving his four-wheel-drive with one hand and shouted at me as he went past. These scum ought to be locked up.

AnonymousAugust 17th 2012.

I've never really felt the need to visit Saint Helens. Now I have a good excuse. I'm so camera shy.

AnonymousAugust 20th 2012.

The phenomenon of spy cameras everywhere is alarming because we now live in a country which will even arrest and deport ITS OWN CITIZENS (in contravention of EU law) to a backward foreign country which still has the death penalty.
Yes, the USA, from which our governments (both Tory and New Labour) get their orders.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 20th 2012.

If it where is contravention of EU law then would intended deportees not have excercised their right to appeal to the european courts and subsequently not been deported? just seems odd all their lawyers letting them be deported illegaly without apealing.

Oh any chance of you explaining why our governments take orders from the USA? I'd guess they have a good reason? perhaps you could share it with us?

Robert KingAugust 21st 2012.

"I've never felt threatened by the sight of somebody using a mobile phone whilst driving..."

They are absolutely terrifying for motorcyclists.

AnonymousAugust 21st 2012.

Puttering along the middle lane of the motorway swerving from side to side whilst the selfish imbecile at the wheel composes a text message to one of their equally dimwitted chums.

Darth FormbySeptember 1st 2012.

CCTV is part of the foundation of any self respecting dystopia isn't it?

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