Law Enforcement

Just A Few Coppers Are Everywhere

The GURDIAN is visiting the home of the mother tongue and we are somewhat amazed at the use of video cameras, speed cameras linked to radar, and a near total absence of “cop cars.”

Seems the Brits are so accustomed to having clearly marked speed cameras everywhere they automatically slow down at the entrance to villages where a radar linked sign flashing the speed limit in red offers a gentle reminder.  They even use the cameras as land marks as in, “Turn left just past the next speed camera.”

The big cameras have a built in flash and the Royal Mail is happy to send the tickets to your home.  The cameras are EVERYWHERE and rather than trying to catch violators, they work hard to prevent speeding.  There are also redlight cameras–the GUARDIAN  may have inadvertantly tripped one of those sensors creeping forward into a vacant crosswalk.  No doubt Hertz will give up the info and USA Homeland defense will be visiting soon.

The traffic cameras in Boise pale compared to the more than 100 “video command centers” in the U.K.  The coppers just sit in the office and watch a bunch of locations simultaneuously, looking for bad guys and trouble.

Just a matter of time before our sense of “fair play” is surpassed with “internet-type” tickets.  Just keep on  truck’n when you get caught speeding, but send in your credit card number on a secure website at the local court to pay the fine.  Never speak to a human or a copper.

Technology is great.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The Boise Picayune
    Aug 25, 2008, 2:32 pm

    And those are just the cameras you can spot.

    Wired Magazine did an article on Britain’s Big Brother [ ] back in ’02.

    Bangers and Mash, Eel Pie, and Warm Beer.


  2. My personal favorite, the cameras with speakers so Big Brother can reprimand you if you drop a cigarette on the ground. 1984 anyone?

  3. This being the USA, the speed cameras will probably be outsourced to private contractors who would get a commission. That way any dude with a pair of chrome shades, a radar gun and a camera could become a Barney. There’s probably some law on the books requiring the Barneys to be duly deputized, which they won’t be. Then a class action lawsuit, and massive refunds will ensue. And guess who will pay for those refunds? Not Barney.
    File this under “History of Honolulu”. It happened.

  4. Some years ago, Phoenix installed cameras at traffic lights.
    People cited for running a red light fought the charges, saying, maybe my car did it, but I wasn’t driving. So cameras were readjusted to show driver as well as license-plate number.
    Got lots photos of folks holding notebooks or whatever in front of their faces as they went by the lights.
    Maybe headdresses like some of the Arab women have to wear would be fun.
    Of course, one could simply obey the speed limits and stop for red lights, but what fun would there be in that?

  5. Tom Anderson
    Aug 26, 2008, 9:07 am

    George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house
    The Big Brother nightmare of George Orwell’s 1984 has become a reality – in the shadow of the author’s former London home.

    It may have taken a little longer than he predicted, but Orwell’s vision of a society where cameras and computers spy on every person’s movements is now here.

    According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people in the country – and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

    Use of spy cameras in modern-day Britain is now a chilling mirror image of Orwell’s fictional world, created in the post-war Forties in a fourth-floor flat overlooking Canonbury Square in Islington, North London.

    On the wall outside his former residence – flat number 27B – where Orwell lived until his death in 1950, an historical plaque commemorates the anti-authoritarian author. And within 200 yards of the flat, there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.

    Orwell’s view of the tree-filled gardens outside the flat is under 24-hour surveillance from two cameras perched on traffic lights.

    The flat’s rear windows are constantly viewed from two more security cameras outside a conference centre in Canonbury Place.

    In a lane, just off the square, close to Orwell’s favourite pub, the Compton Arms, a camera at the rear of a car dealership records every person entering or leaving the pub.

    Within a 200-yard radius of the flat, there are another 28 CCTV cameras, together with hundreds of private, remote-controlled security cameras used to scrutinise visitors to homes, shops and offices.

    The message is reminiscent of a 1949 poster to mark the launch of Orwell’s 1984: ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

    In the Shriji grocery store in Canonbury Place, three cameras focus on every person in the shop. Owner Minesh Amin explained: ‘They are for our security and safety. Without them, people would steal from the shop. Although this is a nice area, there are always bad people who cause trouble by stealing.’

    Three doors away, in the dry-cleaning shop run by Malik Zafar, are another two CCTV cameras.

    ‘I need to know who is coming into my shop,’ explained Mr Zafar, who spent £400 on his security system.

    This week, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) produced a report highlighting the astonishing numbers of CCTV cameras in the country and warned how such ‘Big Brother tactics’ could eventually put lives at risk.

    The RAE report warned any security system was ‘vulnerable to abuse, including bribery of staff and computer hackers gaining access to it’. One of the report’s authors, Professor Nigel Gilbert, claimed the numbers of CCTV cameras now being used is so vast that further installations should be stopped until the need for them is proven.

    One fear is a nationwide standard for CCTV cameras which would make it possible for all information gathered by individual cameras to be shared – and accessed by anyone with the means to do so.

    The RAE report follows a warning by the Government’s Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that excessive use of CCTV and other information-gathering was ‘creating a climate of suspicion’.

    Originally printed on Thisislondon, author unknown

  6. I for one I’m in favor of that system. Police can’t seem to stop these people so lets take another step. Get tough seems to be all they understand.

  7. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 26, 2008, 1:09 pm

    And I thought WE lived in a police state. That is horrible. I won’t be visiting the UK.

    We need to take back the world from the busy-bodies, know-it-all’s, religious wackos, bureaucrats, and politicians who have screwed it up.

  8. And I thought Americans were the most frightend, paranoid people in the world.
    All that security explains, to some extent, why the Brits go nuts on vacation. Read about the commercial Limer alcohol and sex binge parties in Spain and Greece. Emotional and social repression by society and government, brings on a host of social problems. Witness the Middle East, Salt Lake City, China.

  9. Rod did you take your blood presure med’s?
    Bet if you were hit by some idiot on his cell phone that just ran the red light you’d think a bit differnt. Hummm just re read your message. Naaa you wouldn’t.

  10. Technology is great when its makes my life better not when it steals my privacy.

    Ft. Collins, CO has speed camera’s and red light camera’s set up all over town. The trick there was to take your front license plate off your car to avoid big bro from identifying you (of course not having a front license plate is against the law too).

    I’m sure the devils advocates out there will say “gee, never break the law and you don’t have to worry about it, think of the money saved, and we will be safer on the road.” For me this type of law enforcement is a slippery slope to a world none of us want to live in. Eventually you trade your freedom for safety.

  11. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 27, 2008, 11:35 am


    My blood pressure is just fine (110/68). Thanks for your concern.

    Read Tom Anderson’s and Werner’s comments. I agree with them – and wouldn’t trade freedom for safety. At the national level some politicians are still trying to scare you into voting for them.

  12. Folk do need to understand that these cameras, as well as the millions of surveilance cameras have had zero, as in no POSITIVE effect on crime in the UK. Violent crime is rising at close to double digit rates while it has dropped here. The things do serve as a nice tax source for the government. I prefer a real, live police officer over a camera and a command center any day. Local policing works, the ticket in the mail does not.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: