[via freedom rules]
According to this local newspaper report from Hertfordshire, in the Royston and Buntingford Mercury :
Big Brother at the dump 10 November 2006
BIG Brother will be watching what residents take to the household waste site in Buntingford, what they throw away and how often.
High-clarity CCTV cameras costing around £12,000 are planned for the household waste recycling centre in Aspenden Road — and they will allow officials to read visitors' number plates.
Some 15 cameras are already spying on visitors to waste sites in York Way in Royston and in Stevenage.
Herts County Council claims the number plate information would only be used in the event of an "incident" and says it is "keen" to "protect" recyclers.
Protect them from what, exactly ?
Yet in the last three years there have been no incidents at Buntingford's waste centre and only two incidents at the Westmill site, in Ware, where cameras are also set to be installed.
The development raised concerns about civil liberties.
Town councillor Pat Whittaker said: "I think this is a Big Brother tactic and an intrusion of people's privacy. If they record people's number plates they can find out who they are and where they live.
"I think it could actually deter anyone concerned about their civil liberties from going there to recycle.
"Buntingford would be far better served by CCTV cameras monitoring the High Street or the community centre, where we've had incidents of vandalism and violence."
Even though we are sceptical about the value of such cameras in the "High Street or the community centre", surely these are more logical places for CCTV surveillance than the recycling centre ?
Mark Simpkins, the county council's assistant waste manager, said: "We use them to analyse trends by monitoring who uses the centre, what's thrown away and how often.
It is not necessary to know who is using the recycling centre
"Council employees at County Hall can remotely assist the on-site contractors if needed via a live secure internet connection.
A "secure internet connection" is a claim that needs to be justified.
"Due to the high clarity of the camera image, the council can confirm or deny if certain materials are acceptable for disposal at the site. They also act as a good deterrent to anyone abusing council employees or the centre itself."
A council spokesman said: "Number plates are readable but not logged. It just means that our operators can note a registration number and make of car if an incident has occurred.
A pencil and paper, and an "on-site contractor" who can read and write, must be cheaper than spending tens of thousands of pounds on CCTV cameras, and should surely be sufficient to prevent any abuse of the re-cycling facilities ?
"The event-based system is triggered by any movement within windows set up on the cameras."
Footage can be sent by email, answer-fax, SMS message or phone to a monitoring station in Stevenage. The information is stored for a month and then wiped.
So whatever security and privacy precautions there might be in the "secure internet connection", they are all wasted because of the subsequent distribution of the data via insecure "email, answer-fax, SMS message or phone" !