Council considering using CCTV to monitor traveller groups

Croydon’s Labour council wants to use Big Brother to help to stop groups of travellers from dumping piles of rubbish on the borough’s green spaces.

bigbrotheriswatchingyouStuart Collins, the cabinet member for slogans and T-shirts, is understood to be considering calling in mobile CCTV units to monitor traveller encampments – a scheme which the disgraced former Croydon Tory leader Mike Fisher ordered to be implemented six months ago.

Travellers have been accused of leaving a “Grand Canyon of rubbish” on playing fields in Ashburton and Purley Way last month, but as Collins and other council officials have been forced to admit, proving who was responsible for the costly mess is often difficult to the point of being impossible.

“The problem has always been proving, to the level needed in court, that travellers were responsible,” Collins said.

Such prejudicial comments could undermine any enforcement action in these cases, if any is ever brought. “This particular community think they can get away with it,” Collins said. “They’re quite well up on the law and they’re not stupid. They don’t leave things around that can be traced back to them.”

Some groups of travellers have been known to tour neighbourhoods offering cash-in-hand rubbish removal “services”. But instead of taking any bulky items to licensed dumps – where the travellers would incur a charge – they leave the refuse behind on their camp site, where once they move on, it can become someone else’s problem, to be cleared at other people’s expense.

The scene in an Ashburton park over one August weekend. The council has cleared the site, at public expense. But who dumped it?

The scene in an Ashburton park over one August weekend. The council has cleared the site, at public expense. But who dumped it?

The major fly-tips at Ashburton and Purley Way were an immense embarrassment for Labour’s new council, making a mucky mockery of its “Don’t Mess With Croydon” campaign, which was launched before Collins had been able to ensure that the responsible departments are fully staffed. Nine new council employees have been recruited, and all should be in place by the end of October.

Among the plans for deterring traveller camps from misconduct is to keep them under 24/7 closed-circuit television surveillance, a scheme which was first put to council officials in March by the then leader of the council, Mike Fisher.

According to Coulsdon West Conservative councillor Mario Creatura, Fisher “directed the council to get a security firm…”, ahhh, outsourcing, the favourite fall-back of the Tories  when they have stripped the council offices of too many staff… “to be present at traveller sites monitoring their activities 24 hours a day. Whilst this would not be cheap it would be no more expensive than removing these mountains of rubbish.

“In addition, it would have one of two effects,” Creatura said. “Either it would prevent the dumping of rubbish (which would deny the travellers an income stream) or alternatively, if rubbish was dumped, we should have enough evidence to prosecute or take other action.”

Creatura called the measure a “seemingly sensible policy suggestion”, but could not elaborate why something put forward by the borough’s most senior elected official had failed to be implemented by council officers.

There are privacy issues with CCTV monitoring operations, but senior council figures have been briefed that in future, when a traveller group rolls up on a piece of public land in Croydon, when police and council officials first visit them – usually to serve them with notice to quit – they will also issue a letter that will state that they may be subject to surveillance.

“The letters won’t say ‘Smile, you’re on Candid Camera,’ but they should be enough that the council is covered legally, and the letters alone may be enough to make any fly-tippers think twice before messing with Croydon,” our suitably on-message source in Fisher’s Folly told Inside Croydon.

“Fly-tipping is a crime and serious anti-social behaviour. If anyone does try to dump stuff, then in future we will have the video evidence to successfully prosecute and bring in significant fines.”



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Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

 

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Ashburton, Crime, Croydon Council, Environment, Fly tipping, Mario Creatura, Mike Fisher, Refuse collection, Stuart Collins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Council considering using CCTV to monitor traveller groups

  1. The cabinet member for slogans and t-shirts (I didn’t say rubbish councillor) might as well join the “effing Tories”.

  2. britasjo says:

    These people are a blight on any open space and there is enough evidence for generalisations to be made nationally. If they are not responsible then the council’s cameras will prove their innocence.

  3. mraemiller says:

    Some years ago (about 2007) I was cut up by a speeding driver on Croydon roundabout who crashed the lights and clipped my nearside wing.

    So I put in an FOI request to Croydon Council to ask if the incident had been caught on any of the many cameras in Taberner House.

    A very nice man from the council explained that while Croydon does indeed have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in London the Council only possessed ONE video recorder and could only record from one feed at a time. Which makes you wonder what use all these cameras are if they can only be viewed in real time…? So anyway has technology improved enough for any of these cameras to record to a hard drive yet?

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