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CCTV Protest

BOB & BETTY | 25.07.2006 22:20 | Social Struggles | Birmingham

A local protest about the installation of a CCTV camera on a residential road without the residents being consulted.



People living on Birchwood Road in Balsall Heath took part in a street protest on Sunday the 23rd of July 2006 about the CCTV camera that was sited on their street and was due to ‘go live’ that day. The BBC ‘Midlands Today’ news programme briefly showed the protest and the views of two of 2 of the protesters. Balsall Heath in Birmingham, like some other parts of the country has seen an escalation in the use of CCTV cameras in the community. Most of these are at road junctions, but this is the second on a that is on a residential road.
Birchwood Road and Alder Road were the roads most severely affected in last years Tornado. The Alder Road houses were so badly damaged that they are still not completely fixed and are still not occupied. The ‘Tornado Affected Neighbourhood Group’ (TANG) formed by and linked with the Balsall Heath Forum have had regular meetings since the tornado and some people at the meetings have spoke of their wish for more CCTV cameras. However, it appears that a small number of people wha attend these meeting pursued the idea of a camera on Birchwood Road/Alder Road.
The first time that people on the roads heard about the proposal was when a ‘CCTV in Operation’ sign went up on the road 8 weeks ago, the post for the camera appeared shortly afterwards. Residents spoke of their concern and on the 23-05-2006 one wrote to a local councillor, Salma Yaqoob of the ‘Respect’ party. She replied on the 26-06-2006 and said she was going to make enquiries. However, when people on the road learned from the TANG ‘news update’ of the 21-07-2006 with news from Rohan and John that the CCTV camera was due to go live on Sunday (23-07-2006) they decided to call for the street protest.
They are very concerned that no one on the 2 roads (apart from the 2 residents who initiated it all) have been consulted or asked for their opinion about having a CCTV camera. Their concern is about the infringement of their civil liberties.
The oft stated reason for CCTV cameras is Anti-social behaviour and crime, but some residents believe CCTV cameras are more about social control and are apprehensive of ‘1984’ (George Orwell book) type scenarios.
Incidentally, not all of the anti-social behaviour on the street has been from the local young people (teen age boys/men mostly), last year two residents put black tar on their low front walls to stop people sitting on them. Local lads often do sit on walls on the street, but their behaviour is very far from anti-social as they’re just chatting and socialising. The old lady with poor mobility also uses the walls to sit on as she walks slowly up the street.
We need to challenge measures like CCTV being brought in with the excuse of anti-social behaviour and youth crime. The authorities have more insidious motives and it appears they intend for us to live in society like inmates in an open prison.
The people taking action on Birchwood Road want more information about the pros and cons of CCTV cameras an wish there to be a proper consultation process of their views.
They are going to attend the next TANG meeting on the 7th of August 2006 to ask why there wasn’t a proper consultation process before the camera went in. Below is the leaflet that was distributed on the day before the CCTV camera ‘went live’ and ther are photos of the protest and the placards.


As you are probably aware local organisations and individuals have arranged for a CCTV camera to be sited on Birchwood Road. It is now known via the ‘Tornado Affected Neighbourhoods Group’ newsletter that the camera is due to be fitted and go live on Sunday (tomorrow 23-07-2006).
Do you want to be spied upon by unknown individuals in your home and on your street? Or do you believe like the original ‘Big brother’ that if you’ve got ‘nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’.
There has been no direct consultation with residents on our road – we have not been given the opportunity to consider the pros & cons of having a camera or give our opinion on the extending of the use of cameras to monitor our lives.
Lets join together to show our opposition to this infringement of our civil liberties and demand full consultation with local residents prior to any decision to fit a camera!

Meet at the base of the camera pole tomorrow (Sunday) at 10am.



Balloons and Laser pens blind CCTV

26.07.2006 19:51

A team of Austrian computer activists have demonstrated a method of hijacking police CCTV cameras, in protest over increased surveillance of public areas in their country's capital. A group called Quintessenz used an off-the-shelf satellite receiver to intercept the video signal transmitted by a surveillance camera overlooking a busy square in the capital Vienna. The feed had been crudely scrambled by modifying the analogue video signal but the activists were able to unscramble it using commercial video processing software. This enabled them to view everything recorded by the camera, and revealed both its capabilities and shortcomings. "The funny thing was, the camera wasn't able to see right below itself," says Christian Moch, a spokesman for Quintessenz, "so people could carry out drug deals underneath it without being seen".
Moch says Quintessenz decided to hijack the camera to protest over a law introduced in Austria in 2005 permitting police to install surveillance equipment in public places without obtaining a warrant. "They're watching our every move and that's just wrong," he told New Scientist. "It's too close to the book 1984." Part of the stunt saw the activists experiment with different ways to block the video camera's view – they found that laser pointers and balloons were both effective. Since they carried out the prank, the police have started using cameras that transmit their video feed via a cable instead of using a radio link.

Quintessenz members Martin Slunksy and Adrian Dabrowski demonstrated the camera trickery at the 22nd annual Chaos Communication Congress, an event for computer security buffs held in Berlin, Germany, between 27 and 30 December. The event is coordinated by the German Chaos Computer Club, a renowned European activist group.
Campaign groups in the UK have similar concerns over CCTV surveillance. The UK has 4 million public CCTV cameras – more than any other country in Western Europe.
"On occasion it can be very useful," says Doug Jewell, campaign coordinator at the UK organisation Liberty. "But we don't think it's the magic bullet that the government thinks it is." Jewell says studies have shown that changing street lighting can have a bigger impact on crime reduction than the introduction of CCTV cameras. He adds that those who live in London are likely to be captured on CCTV cameras up to 300 times a day. "It's also the databases that accompany these systems that are concerning," he warns. In December 2005, the British government disclosed plans to track all vehicles with software that recognises registration plates. Records of these vehicle movements may then be kept on a database for between two and five years.

Thats a nice repost to end on ! Good luck.



Display the following 3 comments

  1. Reply to CCTV article Birchwood Road, Birmingham. — Ted Ryan
  2. Enquiring — Nigel Burke
  3. How do we get one? — Ed