Scary eyes in Stratford?

Stratford-upon-Avon has suffered a lot recently.  The Bancroft Gardens have been covered in heartless concrete and stained granite.  The art deco interior of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s home theater has been gutted and bizarre tower raised.  Fields and terraced cottages have been dug up and demolished, turned into rat-runs of flats and Americanised three story town-homes.  World Class Stratford has spent millions on harebrained schemes while Holy Trinity Church has been reduced to begging for donations to repair its historic structure.  The town center’s local shops have been priced out, the tourist tat and sandwich shops that filled the void have been hit by the credit crunch and now  many empty shells and vacant storefronts line the streets.

What more could happen to bring infamy to the town?  How about this…

A firm called Internet Eyes will be allowing members of the public to monitor CCTV footage taken in the town and offer up to one thousand pounds if the “viewers” spot a crime in progress.  If this sounds like 1984 meets bingo it gets even better because on the Internet Eyes website they state:

Users are individuals watching random video feeds. Users can register for free with no recurring fees.

The locations of the feeds are not disclosed and users reporting remain anonymous.

So the cameras are monitored by members of the public, who are not trained professionals, aren’t licensed or insured, and have not had a background check carried out. So basically any Peeping Tom can join in the fun, but that is okay because the “locations of the feeds are not disclosed” except unfortunately that isn’t completely true because:

The private company scheme – due to go live in Stratford-upon-Avon in November – aims to stream live footage to subscribers’ home computers from CCTV cameras installed in shops and other businesses.

– BBC News – Public to monitor CCTV from home

and

The project will be trialled in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks, next month, but the consortium behind the idea hopes that it will eventually attract a global audience of viewers monitoring Britain’s 4.2 million security cameras.

– The Telegraph – Snoopers could win £1,000 prizes for monitoring CCTV cameras on the internet

Wow, I’m fairly certain there aren’t that many CCTV systems in Stratford but they’ll soon be available to a global audience of spies watching for crimes and prizes!  Now I know that in this modern world of heightened security cameras have been the silver bullet for so many fears of the age, but I agree with Charles Farrier, director of the No-CCTV pressure group, who said:

“It is an appalling idea for a game and will create a snoopers paradise.

“It is something which should be nipped in the bud immediately. It will not only encourage a dangerous spying mentality by turning crime into a game but also could lead to dangerous civil rights abuses.

Especially when James Woodward, head of the technical team for Devon-based Internet Eyes, is quoted in the Telegraph saying:

“Whoever has a CCTV camera, be it the police, local authorities or business or home owners can sign up to have their cameras watched. We hope to include police cameras very soon.”

Who exactly will be monitoring the monitors?


In September 2009 Britain had 4.2 million CCTV cameras

– the equivalent of one per 14 people.

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