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Big Brother is shouting at you (in the UK)

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=405477&in_page_id=1770 Big Brother is shouting at you Last updated at 21:02pm on
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17, 2006
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      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=405477&in_page_id=1770

      Big Brother is shouting at you
      Last updated at 21:02pm on 16th September 2006

      Big Brother is not only watching you - now he's
      barking orders too. Britain's first 'talking' CCTV
      cameras have arrived, publicly berating bad behaviour
      and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly.

      The system allows control room operators who spot any
      anti-social acts - from dropping litter to late-night
      brawls - to send out a verbal warning: 'We are
      watching you'.

      Middlesbrough has fitted loudspeakers on seven of its
      158 cameras in an experiment already being hailed as a
      success. Jack Bonner, who manages the system, said:
      'It is one hell of a deterrent. It's one thing to know
      that there are CCTV cameras about, but it's quite
      another when they loudly point out what you have just
      done wrong.

      'Most people are so ashamed and embarrassed at being
      caught they quickly slink off without further trouble.

      'There was one incident when two men started fighting
      outside a nightclub. One of the control room operators
      warned them over the loudspeakers and they looked up,
      startled, stopped fighting and scarpered in opposite
      directions.

      'This isn't about keeping tabs on people, it's about
      making the streets safer for the law-abiding majority
      and helping to change the attitudes of those who cause
      trouble. It challenges unacceptable behaviour and
      makes people think twice.'

      The Mail on Sunday watched as a cyclist riding through
      a pedestrian area was ordered to stop.

      'Would the young man on the bike please get off and
      walk as he is riding in a pedestrian area,' came the
      command.

      The surprised youth stopped, and looked about. A look
      of horror spread across his face as he realised the
      voice was referring to him.

      He dismounted and wheeled his bike through the crowded
      streets, as instructed.

      Law-abiding shopper Karen Margery, 40, was shocked to
      hear the speakers spring into action as she walked
      past them.

      Afterwards she said: 'It's quite scary to realise that
      your every move could be monitored - it really is like
      Big Brother.

      'But Middlesbrough does have a big problem with
      anti-social behaviour, so it is very reassuring.'

      The scheme has been introduced by Middlesbrough mayor
      Ray Mallon, a former police superintendent who was
      dubbed Robocop for pioneering the zero-tolerance
      approach to crime.

      He believes the talking cameras will dramatically cut
      not just anti-social behaviour, but violent crime,
      too.

      And if the city centre scheme proves a success, it
      will be extended into residential areas.

      The control room operators have been given strict
      guidelines about what commands they can give. Yelling
      'Oi you, stop that', is not permitted.

      Instead, their instructions make the following
      suggestions: 'Warning - you are being monitored by
      CCTV - Warning - you are in an alcohol-free zone,
      please refrain from drinking'; and Warning - your
      behaviour is being monitored by CCTV. It is being
      recorded and the police are attending.'

      Mr Bonner said: 'We always make the requests polite,
      and if the offender obeys, the operator adds 'thank
      you'. We think that's a nice finishing touch.

      'It would appear that the offenders are the only ones
      who find the audio cameras intrusive. The vast
      majority of people welcome these cameras.

      'Put it this way, we never have requests to remove
      them.'

      But civil rights campaigners have argued that the
      talking cameras are no 'magic bullet', in the fight
      against crime.

      Liberty spokesman Doug Jewell said: 'None of us likes
      litterbugs or yobs playing up on a Saturday night, but
      talking CCTV cameras are no substitute for police
      officers on the beat.'

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      (12)

      12 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us
      what you think below.

      Here's a sample of the latest comments published. You
      can click view all to read all comments that readers
      have sent in.

      It's not about what the adults think. Consider this
      "generation zero" for the infants and toddlers who
      will grow up not knowing a time when the Government
      wasn't watching and correcting. Sad.

      - R, Rhode Island, USA

      Orwell's 1984 was a dire warning to ward off the
      totalitrianism of public monitoring authorities. This
      camera/speaker system is not 'like' Big Brother, it
      'is' Big Brother incarnate. Monitoring public
      behavior, except for emergency services, is
      completelty unaccepatable in any free society and
      should be received with outrage by responsible
      citizens. It's a slippery slope to dictatorship and
      reminicent of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet
      Union. Don't let this situation prevail.

      - Mike, Boston, USA

      I don't think this would work in Atlanta. Nobody
      cares. They would steal the cameras.

      - David, Atlanta, USA
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