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Councils Recruit Unpaid Volunteers To Spy On Their Neighbors

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-sounds-familiar dept.

Privacy 521

Several readers have written to tell us that a recent move in the UK has councils relying on info from "Citizen Snoopers" to report the transgressions of their neighbors. Currently only implemented as "environment volunteers" designed to keep watch on things like litter, dog habits, and improper trash sorting, there is a certain amount of trepidation that this could grow into something more sinister. "It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society, following the revelation this week that the Home Office is extending some police powers to council staff and private security guards. Critics said the latest scheme could easily be abused and encourage a culture of bin spies and curtain twitchers. Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Snooping on your neighbors to report recycling infringements sounds like something straight out of the East German Stasi's copybook.'"

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First report of a subversive perverse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24829947)

This guy [shapeways.com] plans to bluid some s3x toys or b0mb device, check out!

Re:First report of a subversive perverse (1)

advid.net (595837) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830025)

And a Cowboy Neal 3D also "comming soon".

Actually they could face legal problems with some copyrighted materials, along with censorship / creativity tradeoff.
To bad you can't escape "Citizen Snoopers" with a special profile tag in real life...

Its cut price police - again (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829959)

I know its fashionable to see the UK government as a bunch of closet dictators , but really this is more about money - or lack of. Rather than it being the beginning of the UKs version of the Stasi its simply a case of the government not wanting to cough up cash for real police so they hope they can fob us off with cut price gimmicks like this. They've already given us the Community Support Officer (the plastic police) which is effectively a policeman with limited powers - and crucially a lower salary , but by getting the curtain twitcher types to report on people they don't have to pay any salary.

Of course what will happen to a private civilian with no backup or weapons of any sort trying to stop or ticket some 250lb drunk lout with attitude chucking his beer can over a fence is anyones guess...

Re:Its cut price police - again (4, Funny)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830029)

They've already given us the Community Support Officer (the plastic police) which is effectively a policeman with limited powers - and crucially a lower salary

Sorry I have to beg to differ, The phrase is Glorified Traffic Warden

Re:Its cut price police - again (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830233)

Really? I thought it was Brainless Womble

Re:Its cut price police - again (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830283)

No no, Wombles are the Traffic Agency types who drive up and down the motorways in their pretend Police-cars.

Re:Its cut price police - again (5, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830517)

I like 'improper copper'.

Re:Its cut price police - again (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830351)

two words from the beautiful german language:

"Blockwart", a low ranking official in the german nazi party whos job was to be a link (read: spy on and report to) between the neighborhood and the party/ secret police.

"AbschnittsbevollmÃchtigter", the eastern german continuation of a fellow totalitarian tradition, namely the "Blockwart".

Re:Its cut price police - again (5, Informative)

camelrider (46141) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830621)

Reaction to the same activity in Budapest was a major tipping point in the uprising of the late 1950's.

While it became an anti-USSR movement the initial disorder was the sometimes violent reaction to local block monitors by fed-up citizens, according to some of my friends who were there.

Re:Its cut price police - again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830197)

Community Support Officers make a lot of sense. When the public were asked what they wanted they said they said they wanted to see more police officers. They didn't say they wanted police officers to solve more crimes just that when they were out and about they wanted to be able to see police officers.
Given that it is very rare for a police officer to actually see a crime being committed when they are just walking around it really doesn't make sense to spend tax payers money on fully fledged police officers when someone who looks a bit like one will do.

Re:Its cut price police - again (4, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830397)

You are right!

I was recently sent a survey from the police. It asked if I'd seen any policemen walking round recently, which I had. They wanted to know if I felt much safer, a little safer, or no safer. I crossed that out and wrote that I felt less safe -- I'd wondered what was going on that required police to be walking past my house.

Re:Its cut price police - again (1, Informative)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830549)

Commuity Support Officers make me feel no safer, because they have no powers and using resources for them means less resources for actual Police. They do fuck all. Well, except stand by and watch kids drown [guardian.co.uk] .

Re:Its cut price police - again (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830299)

Over here, we've already seen what happens when you give poorly educated, poorly paid pole police powers.

You get the goons in TSA

Re:Its cut price police - again (5, Insightful)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830303)

It does seem to have become a Slashdot theme of late.

Something I've noticed though is that the vast majority of the "horrific loss of privacy in Britain" stories refer to proposed ideas, often by people low down in their government whose job it is to think up new ideas (whether good or - as is most often the case - bad) but few of which have yet shown any real signs of actually being implemented.

Here, Bush prefers doing these sort of things in secret and using every dirty trick in the book to keep it secret. I'd prefer to have my government announcing plans which will infringe on my privacy before they are implemented rather than them being uncovered by reporters several years in.

Re:Its cut price police - again (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830373)

Well, the problem is that the reality is almost as bad as a lot of the proposals.

the local councils have been using the CCTV networks to stalk people for things as trivial as checking whether they live where they said and are eligible for the school they've tried to register their kids at.

I'm just waiting for the first "council worker uses CCTV to stalk and murder ex girlfriend" story to come out, as the abuse of these resources seems to be overdue, especially given how trivial the security in the UK public sector seems to be.

Re:Its cut price police - again (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830481)

the local councils have been using the CCTV networks to stalk people for things as trivial as checking whether they live where they said and are eligible for the school they've tried to register their kids at.

What's your problem with that, exactly? 'Council uses CCTV to prevent fraud' doesn't seem like such a shocking story to me.

Re:Its cut price police - again (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830513)

1) not fraud

2) I don't think that it's anywhere near important enough an issue to justify watching an entire family. Especially given that those doing the watching are not even police.

3) As I said, it wasn't the police doing this. It's not even a criminal matter, it's a trivial social matter and the fatheads at the local council shouldn't be allowed access to the public CCTV networks over this. Or anything else.

Re:Its cut price police - again (2, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830605)

the local councils have been using the CCTV networks to stalk people for things as trivial as checking whether they live where they said and are eligible for the school they've tried to register their kids at.

I've never understood the objections to that kind of thing. How the hell are the council supposed to do their job if they can't do something as trivial as check to see if what they say is true? Should they simply believe everything they are told? We're not talking about bugging people's homes or rifling though their possessions while they're out - it's watching someone in public, on the street.

hm (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829961)

Reminds me of the kids in 1984 spying on their parents and reporting on the poor Parsons.

Re:hm (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830141)

Why reference a work of fiction? The Nazi government encouraged citizens to report each other as well, and ironically, the Nazis launched missiles at and dropped bombs on England.

Whats so special? (4, Informative)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829967)

Here in Michigan we also do this. If your neighbor wont cut his grass in a timely manner there is usually a municipal number you can call. The city agents will come out and issue a fine. This applies to more than grass though. Animals, noise, etc. If there it is a "private" neighborhood then you can have other things written into the charter or whatever its called for that area.

Its really only concerned with property related things though. If you see your neighbor growing pot plants, you'd have to find another number to call...

Pot Plants? (4, Funny)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830077)

Growing things in pots is a transgression in Michigan?

Re:Whats so special? (3, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830107)

WTF. You actually have a law for ... cutting grass in a timely fashion??? Is that a normal thing in the US, or is it something that you only find in certain towns/cities?

Get off YOUR lawn (4, Informative)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830267)

These are usually local ordinances. They are fairly rare as whole cities go, but if you live in a community with a "Homeowners Association" then they can have all sorts of crazy "laws" [youtube.com] . Junk vehicles in your driveway, bushes are too high, need to rake leaves, children are ugly, daughter is a floozy, etc. More often than not, the elderly are in charge of the Homeowner's Association, and spend their days looking through binoculars to see if that no-good 30-something couple's dog is making on their lawn again... and they didn't pick it up!

Welcome to The 'Burb's [imdb.com] .

Re:Whats so special? (4, Interesting)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830291)

Actually, the US does seem to have a much stronger sense of 'keep your local suburb/community respectable looking' than other countries I've lived in. (Lived in Australia, US, UK and Japan for various periods in my life)

I'm Australian by birth and the lawns here (Canberra) are mostly awful. Full of weeds, some are never mowed, most are dying because of the drought anyway.

In the US though (or at least in suburban Wisconsin and Illinois where I have been), everyone's lawn is immaculate. It's sorta freaky actually ... house after house of perfectly cut, beautifully lush green grass. First time I went there I actually said "omg, I thought it only looked like this in movies - it's actually like this??".

Whereas in Australia you can guarantee every 3rd or so house is a complete dump, old rusting cars parked out the front and piles of weeds and dirt.

This responsibility to your community extends into winter. I was interested to learn that homeowners have a ~legal obligation~ to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their house within x hours of a snowfall, in the US. That kind of law would never, ever exist in Australia. Half of us just don't care about our yard or what it looks like.

But interestingly, in every other respect though, Australia is WAY more regulated than the US. Americans just love their lawns, I guess (and they have the climate to support growing a great one).

Re:Whats so special? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830487)

Methinks you be comparing Apples to some other fruit.

Re:Whats so special? (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830533)

That's just all the HOAs here in America. Some of us try to avoid living in neighborhoods with HOAs (and take care of our yards without some association forcing us to). My current neighborhood has one but it's very hands-off (I wish they were a little more hands-on though). The one good thing about HOAs is they are not governmental institutions. They do have legal rights, of course, but at least they are not governmental.

Re:Whats so special? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830317)

It is prevalent. It is more or less a zoning thing (people can't have cars sitting on blocks in their front yards either, and there are often rules about shoveling snow).

The penalty is generally a fine, and enforcement is generally rather lax.

Re:Whats so special? (4, Funny)

knaapie (214889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830119)

Ehm, if you fail to cut your 'grass' you get a fine, but you're suspicious when you grow pot plants?
I must say I fail to see the logic.....

Re:Whats so special? (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830173)

Here in Michigan we also do this. If your neighbor wont cut his grass in a timely manner there is usually a municipal number you can call. The city agents will come out and issue a fine.

The Land of the Free, where the allowable length of the grass in your yard is regulated. But as long as you don't have free public healthcare like we have here in the evil socialist countries, I guess it's okay.

I wonder if some libertarian will reply and rave about the evils of socialized healthcare while ignoring the grass-trimming regulations...

Re:Whats so special? (4, Insightful)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830389)

The Land of the Free, where the allowable length of the grass in your yard is regulated. But as long as you don't have free public healthcare like we have here in the evil socialist countries, I guess it's okay.

I support public healthcare, but calling it "free" is disingenuous.

And yes, the grass thing is stupid.

Treatment is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830435)

But you have to pay insurance to cover it.

National Insurance contributions.

Re:Whats so special? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830341)

Yes, that's code enforcement, not criminal law enforcement. It lets neighborhoods establish the prevailing level of neatness they want...here in the Denver 'burbs there are laid-back neighborhoods like mine, where I can park my sailplane trailer in the driveway, and broomstick-up-the-ass neighborhoods where you can't put your trash out front the day before pickup day.

rj

And this won't be missused... (5, Interesting)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829969)

Like fuck it won't.

I don't like my neighbour, the dog. Yup, the neighbour didn't clean up after their dog.

Yes, they are not sorting their recycling.

This sort of shit moves society away from an open society to a society of fear. I would have thought that getting people to work together and trust each other (and deserve that trust) would be much better then getting them to mistrust and fear their neighbours.

Same sort of shit where doctors for children and podiatrists are mistaken for "paedophiles".

Re:And this won't be missused... (5, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830189)

Face it, our society is broken. (I'm British).

The place is full of busybodies and curtain twitchers, people who think they know best, the "think of the children" pro-censorship crowd, the people who fully support the government's creeping "terror" legislation (yes they exist, in droves. Only bad people fall under suspicion, remember?), reactionary anti-europeans and nationalists (I agree the EU has problems, but the "they'll never take our pound!" crowd piss me off)...

That's coupled with a government who run the country by knee-jerk and grant themselves ever more power, money and manpower, bring in badly defined bans (extreme porn anyone?) and seem to get off on stripping us of rights.

The law is out of touch with reality and with society; though if it actually reflected the people we'd all be in trouble too, hanging would be back in a week. OTOH if the law was actually sensible and the government stopped their weekly crackdowns on freedom then more people might start to respect it and not just break the law and disregard everyone else. Currently the attitude seems to be "Everything's iullegal, so I'll just do what the hell I like when I think I have a chance not to be caught".

No politician has the balls to do what needs to be done though (legalise drugs, review speed limits, take away hundreds of little pieces of legislated social engineering, castrate and massively cull the public sector), so IMHO we're fucked.

Frankly I'm getting the hell out of here.

Two more things (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830337)

1) yes, I am aware that complaining about people who think they know best and then proclaiming that the law shouldn't reflect the immediate desires of the greater population makes me a hypocrite. I can live with that.

2) No America, you aren't free of these things either, though they are developed to a different extent in each country.

Re:And this won't be missused... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830403)

bring in badly defined bans (extreme porn anyone?)

Look, that was a perfectly well constructed law and was passed for all the right reasons. Some poor Daily Mail reading womens kinky daughter was killed, no, SLAUGHTERED at the hands of her consenting partner while engaging in a consensual sex act which the poor womens kinky daughter enjoyed and had requested her partner to perform.

Now I don't know about you, but clearly when a person who is engaging in a dangerous kink is accidentally injured, it's clearly the fault of the internets and those dangerous perverts who inhabit it's every nook and cranny. Like the Daily Mail reading womens daughter, for example. Obviously her daughter never would have enjoyed breath-play if the internet was banned. Or something.

Shit, have I left my sarcasm on again? Oh I'm terribly sorry.

Re:And this won't be missused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830531)

Face it, our society is broken. (I'm British).

You are lucky enough to live in one of the priveliged, prosperous, peaceful countries of the world. It's not 'broken' (see below).

Frankly I'm getting the hell out of here.

When you go off to your new paradise, do try to visit somewhere like Somalia along the way (or one of the African countries with no effective government or law and order). You might find that the UK is not as 'broken' as you thought when you visit a place that actually is.

And:
No, I don't think the UK is perfect, I think id cards etc are oppresive and sinister etc.
No, I don't support and won't vote for the current government (or the Tories).

It's just an insult to the people living in countries that *are* broken to use this term for the UK.

Re:And this won't be missused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830579)

The law is out of touch with reality and with society; though if it actually reflected the people we'd all be in trouble too, hanging would be back in a week. OTOH if the law was actually sensible and the government stopped their weekly crackdowns on freedom then more people might start to respect it and not just break the law and disregard everyone else. Currently the attitude seems to be "Everything's iullegal, so I'll just do what the hell I like when I think I have a chance not to be caught".

No politician has the balls to do what needs to be done though (legalise drugs, review speed limits, take away hundreds of little pieces of legislated social engineering, castrate and massively cull the public sector), so IMHO we're fucked.

Frankly I'm getting the hell out of here.

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers.

It's truly sad how true dystopia novels and various quotes (many from America's founding fathers) are becoming. I think the competition now is which novel is most prophetic. I'd probably say 1984, though I can't ignore pieces from other ones.

Re:And this won't be missused... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830321)

I'm from Romania and I remember the way it was before the 1989 revolution, during the communism years. The biggest differences are that the people that would spy on you were getting paid for that and you'd get burned if anyone heard you say anything about the regime. FTFA, criticizing the current regime won't get your ass in jail and these people aren't getting paid to spy on you; other than that it's just the way it was pre-1989 Romania. - Anonymous Coward for a good reason.

Unpaid volunteers (2, Insightful)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829973)

Isn't voluntary work by definition unpaid?

Re:Unpaid volunteers (4, Interesting)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830017)

No. In many cases volunteers are paid expenses and, perhaps, a small stipend. (Depending on the organisation, job, etc.)

Not to mention, if you're in a volunteer army, presumably you are being paid (just don't volunteer for anything else, you'll get paid the same rate, and you'll face more danger).

Re:Unpaid volunteers (3, Funny)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830237)

A lot of people would actually pay for the opportunity to legally harass their neigbours, so I think the councils aren't even close to what they could have done, after all, they'll need a lot of money to staff their soon to be overwhelmed homicide divisions.

Oh, there goes another one (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829991)

I'll just tick that off my "You know when your country resembles the novel 1984 when..." list

Right, I'm off down the pub for a quick 1/2 litre.

Re:Oh, there goes another one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830467)

As an insulting American I can't decide which I should pick on first; your use of the metric system or your weird spelling of "liter".

Re:Oh, there goes another one (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830523)

Right, I'm off down the pub for a quick 1/2 litre.

Is that anti EU (as featured in the Daily Mail), a reference to the Polish pub that wasn't allowed to use proper Polish beer glasses, or a suggestion that serving 568ml of beer is somehow essential to British culture?

I'd quite like 0.5 and 1 litres of beer. One practical use it it would be much easier to calculate the number of units in the drink (50 centilitres x 4% = 2 units). I have no problem with calling that a "pint" though.

Police don't do anything (5, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829995)

Don't worry. I have a drug house in front of mine. That means we get a lot of vandalism, theft, noise, car crashes, and a loss of sleep at night. So I bought a top of the line camera ($2500) to catch the action and turn it into the police. They like the pretty pictures of the drugs and cash trading hands, but after a few months, the drug house is still going strong:

http://rs6.risingnet.net/~dattaway/shame [risingnet.net]

Here's the Axis network webcam for you to play with (you'll quickly find out I'm in the USA where bandwidth SUCKS!)

http://www.dattaway.net/ [dattaway.net]

Re:Police don't do anything (3, Insightful)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830065)

The police are interested in the smaller crimes that make their area lots of money rather than major crimes that hurt people. In California, they are more interested in people talking on cell phones than actual crimes. I have multiple drug houses in my area and nothing seems to be done about it.

Re:Police don't do anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830305)

Wow talk about a good way to get yourself shot.

Has it ever occurred to you if they know the camera is there & flip it off, that your actions are putting your whole family at risk?

Re:Police don't do anything (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830339)

"So I bought a top of the line camera ($2500) to catch the action and turn it into the police."

You're braver than I would be. The crims only have to spot you taking their picture or one of the "friends" in the police let them know who took it and you and your house will be getting more attention than is healthy.

Re:Police don't do anything (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830349)

Seriously though dude, your photos aren't really that incriminating.

Yeah, a bong, but unless "drug paraphernalia" is illegal (unsure in your jurisdiction), I can't see anything illegal going on. Sure, you say it's pot that's being smoked, but I know folks who would smoke tobacco through a bong...

As for switching plates, yeah, that's suspicious, but there are legitimate reasons for doing that too. Say the car got sold or something. (In [wikipedia.org] some [wikipedia.org] places [wikipedia.org] , the plates are for a person, not a car, your jurisdiction may vary.)

Yeah, maybe if you captured a murder going on the cops might be more interested.

Re:Police don't do anything (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830367)

Don't you have a local TV reporter who loves stuff like that?

rj

History repeats.. (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830005)

Germany, Hilter, gestapo, WWII.

Britian, Brown, Citizen Snoopers, ...

Sounding familiar?

Re:History repeats.. (1)

PJCRP (1314653) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830567)

What's a Britian? Is it some sort of country in the east?

I've seen this movie and it will end one of 2 ways (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830009)

Simon Pegg will show up as the big city cop in a small town that takes his job too seriously and brings down the corrupt and evil snoopers.

Or

John Hurt's neighbor's kids will overhear their father talking anti-government in his sleep and they'll turn him in for re-education by the system, and the big evil system will continue on it's merry way.

I'm hoping more "Hot Fuzz" than "1984" on this one.

queue (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830013)

Queue slashdot apologists.

1984 (2, Insightful)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830019)

Why is it that UK seems to lead in privacy-crippling, big-brother style techniques?
All corners covered, CCTV, spying on each other and clearly, there's still no good evidence of any of this wrking twards any good results...

From my experience, if there are some really bad things happening, neighbour will not report, being too scared.

Re:1984 (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830479)

there's still no good evidence of any of this wrking twards any good results...

They can't even find the cutthroats who made off with your O's!

Re:1984 (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830575)

From my experience, if there are some really bad things happening, neighbour will not report, being too scared.

Which is why governments would want you to be more scared of them than your neighbo[u]r. Fear is powerful stuff.

Big Brother (4, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830027)

It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society

Uh, perhaps some people need to read 1984 again. By the time people start "informing" on one another, Big Brother is already here. "Lurching"? More like "Arrived".

Britain is lost behind an iron curtain of it's own making.

Sad (3, Insightful)

upside (574799) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830035)

I think it's sad when people can't behave responsibly without being snooped upon, whether it's the police or neighbours.

Re:Sad (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830087)

i think it's sad that there are legions of people willing to report each other to the authorities over pretty much nothing.

And laws? We have too many, and the more the petty laws are enforced on normal people (especially with most in the UK seem to think the police are woefully inadequate at dealing with "real" crime) the more people will get pissed off and start to ignore the law completely.

Re:Sad (1)

QJimbo (779370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830179)

They do, just councils are desperate to find any means they can to fine people to get extra money.

already happening (4, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830059)

I purchased a car a few months ago.
It didn't have any tax when I got it.
I had it parked on the side of the road for 2 days whilst I was waiting for my insurance documents to come through so that I can get tax (it's impossible to get tax without insurance).
I was in a catch 22 situation, it was impossible for me to get tax.
Anyhow, one of my neighbours dutifully phoned up the DVLA (a government agency) who promptly clamped my car and gave me a £200 fine which I payed promptly.
A few weeks later I received another letter from the DVLA this time threatening to fine me £83 for not licensing my vehicle or they were going to take me to court.

I'm going to go to court as I hope that the judge will see that they put me in an impossible situation (but I expect I'll probably end up having to pay an even larger fine)

Re:already happening (2, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830151)

If you drove the car to your road without tax or insurance, that was already illegal. You should have arranged tax and insurance before buying it. Insurance companies will fax documents to you if you are in a hurry, or else an insurance broker could issue a cover note on the spot.
If you still have not taxed your car after a few weeks, perhaps you are not really trying?

Re:already happening (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830607)

I'd already arranged the insurance, but how pray tell do you arrange tax without having purchased the car? I taxed my car within two days since that was the time it took for the cover note to come through.

Re:already happening (2)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830177)

I had it parked on the side of the road for 2 days ...

Sorry, mate, you are shit-out-of-luck. You may not park an unlicensed (taxed) vehicle in a public place. The law is quite clear on this point.

So, you have a vehicle with nowhere to park it, kind of short sighted of you, isn't it ?

Re:already happening (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830627)

kinda short sighted of the people who allowed planning for the housing without adequate off-road parking.

Re:already happening (2, Informative)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830625)

D'oh. All you needed to do was phone up your insurance, then phone up the DVLA. They'll check for the insurance (it's all electronic, no need to wait by the post) and give you a code to display in lieu of the disk. The code normally runs out after a week or two.

Any problems with that and you need to put it in someone's drive, and if it's going to take long do a SORN.

It's worth some dilligence when buying a car. Phone up the insurance company, both to check prices and to get them to determine if it's been written off (they do not bother until you ask or there is a claim!). This isn't just for your safety; insurance does not pay out for a car that any insurance company has written off. You can also check the DVLA's vehicle enquiry page [direct.gov.uk] .

I sympathise with your position, and cannot fathom why the DVLA do not put the above solution in their FAQ, but it should be obvious to anyone that motoring is a cash cow for the UK gov't and they milk every drop.

really all about revenue (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830099)

Really, safety may be the justification, but the driving forces are actually greed and power!

Beware, when government uses automation to dispense justice, there's really no reasonable limit to how much mechanical injustice these systems can and will produce.

Sadly, the burden will again fall hardest on those with the least financial herewithal.

Destroying trust is the end of society (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830101)

Trust is one of the tenants on which civilisation and a modern society is built on,
i trust my neighbour wont kill me, i trust that random joe i pass on the street doesnt want to stab me, etc etc
when you can no longer trust anyone but yourself what kind of civilisation are we living/building ?
perhaps i should be proactive and kill/attack anyone who comes near me or my property, just to be safe of course

does the gov think its a healthy thing to encouraging that you to trust nobody ?
what is the correct response to someone who you dont trust ? and will that improve society ?

perhaps some anthropologists would like to chime in

Re:Destroying trust is the end of society (2, Interesting)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830209)

perhaps i should be proactive and kill/attack anyone who comes near me or my property, just to be safe of course

does the gov think its a healthy thing to encouraging that you to trust nobody ?

That's the way it is in Texas [cnn.com] .

Re:Destroying trust is the end of society (1)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830407)

perhaps i should be proactive and kill/attack anyone who comes near me or my property, just to be safe of course

I live in the US where Bush has legitimized this type of behavior.

Switzerland (2, Informative)

pubjames (468013) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830121)

I have a friend who lives in Switzerland who says that getting reported to the authorities by your neighbours for petty rule violations is a fairly common occurrence there.

Re:Switzerland (1, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830591)

I knew someone who used to live in Poland, who said that getting reported to the authorities by your neighbours was once fairly common there too. One day someone reported him and his wife and children. He managed to escape but the rest of his family sadly did not.

How a journalist can spin something.. (4, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830181)

"In Hampshire, Eastleigh council wants locals to 'monitor local environmental quality' and report 'issues' involving recycling and waste."

If you take the single quotes out and read it without your tin foil hat on there's nothing to object to. It's just the council asking for people to report problems which they'll then look into. Surely every local government in the world does that.

Re:How a journalist can spin something.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830537)

Surely every local government in the world does that.

Yes, every government does that. It's called salami tactic. Start with something reasonable or meaningless, then work your way up.

"This new law that cripples privacy and takes a few rights away from you, will only be applied to terrorists. Oh no, we won't add another paragraph next year, that makes it applicable to any petty misdemeanor, nosir. Never going to happen. Look here: terrorist, terrorist, evil, terrorist, terrorist. Don't look away! Look at the evil terrorist!"

I Left Eight Years Ago (2, Interesting)

Ganty (1223066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830201)

This rubbish is the sort of thing that made me leave the UK eight years ago. Right now I'm a couple of thousand miles away and I couldn't be happier.

Ganty

Re:I Left Eight Years Ago (1)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830419)

Where do you live now?

In Communist Britain? (3, Interesting)

Z-MaxX (712880) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830203)

My parents recently returned from a trip that included visiting Croatia and Serbia. One of the things that touched them the most was the tall, gray, nondescript cement block apartment buildings that stretched for miles and miles, built by the fascist communist government. In these dreary buildings, the interior walls were intentionally built thinner than usual. It was not only for cost reasons, however... it is said that over 50% of people eavesdropped on and informed on their neighbors to the communist government, and the paper-thin walls made it so that people had to constantly whisper for fear of being overheard.

Re:In Communist Britain? (3, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830421)

it is said that over 50% of people eavesdropped on and informed on their neighbors to the communist government, and the paper-thin walls made it so that people had to constantly whisper for fear of being overheard.

My parents were from that generation. Despite the fact that they had moved to a new continent and that Tito was long dead, politics, even American politics, was always discussed in hushed tones. And then, never over the telephone.

Re:In Communist Britain? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830573)

fascist communist

...

Fabulous prizes to be won! (4, Funny)

TimberManiac (851670) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830205)

Betray your family and friends. Fabulous prizes to be won! And don't forget to vote fascist for a third glorious decade of total law enforcement.

Re:Fabulous prizes to be won! (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830449)

For people who don't know, this is reference to an episode of Red Dwarf (Back to Reality, season 4 ep 6).

I know everyone likes 1984 (1)

ChrisRN (1355265) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830255)

But I doubt this is for people to report whenever a neighbour makes a mistake. It's for people who regularly and deliberately break the law when they know that no police are watching.

There is a driver who lives near me who regularly skips red lights and speeds, unless there is a police car about. Currently, I have no power to report him, even if I have evidence so he carries on knowing full well that he can get away with it.

In an ideally policed state, there would be sufficient police employed to witness or prevent every deliberate crime but this is impractical.

So I doubt that, as the article suggests "Councils are unlikely to ignore tip-offs" if they are a one off, but if several come in from different people, then they may pay attention.

Re:I know everyone likes 1984 (2, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830545)

In an ideally policed state, there would be sufficient police employed to witness or prevent every deliberate crime but this is impractical.

Really? Very many things that we do every day are technically crimes. Even the most careful driver will sometimes exceed the speed limit by 1mph. So we depend on the lack of ubiquitous policing in order to be able to live our lives as we do.

That's one reason why the sudden imposition of automated, mechanical law enforcement is so unpopular. Everyone knows that the speed limit is (say) 30mph, but everyone breaks it occasionally. If you had to drive such that you never exceeded the limit, you would have to drive at 10mph less than the limit, just to make sure. So what appears to be enforcement of the limit is really a reduction of the limit.

Re:I know everyone likes 1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830577)

Perhaps if the traffic lights were changed to flashing reds at off peak hours, people wouldn't be forced to practice civil disobediance?

Only for the proles (4, Insightful)

Butisol (994224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830265)

This isn't something to worry about if you're rich. No one's going to come out to your country estate and spy to make sure that your caviar jar is sorted into the glass recycling bin. See, creeping fascism isn't about government trying to control everyone, it's about motivating us to become better (that is, rich) so we don't have to worry about such things. I'm glad when governments care so much about encouraging their citizens to reach their full potential.

Looking at the communist regimes for inspiration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830269)

Is it just me, or does this look like the old East Germany, where everybody spied after everybody else?

keeps reminding us of the infamous 'n' word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830273)

nazi. fear is unprecedented evile's primary weapon. that, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' greed/fear/ego based hired goons' agenda. Most of yOUR dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'war', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid scheme. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & the notion of prosperity, not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/world/middleeast/03kurdistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080708/cheney_climate.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080805/pl_politico/12308;_ylt=A0wNcxTPdJhILAYAVQms0NUE

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece
 

There is no duty to recycle (3, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830289)

The core of the problem is there is no duty to recycle. No one sees a problem with neighbor reporting a murder, yet you seem to see a problem with neighbor reporting failure to recycle.

The problem is not with the denunciation per se, but the fact that the law is unjust, and the sole result of a coercive monopoly on trash collection, aided by an ecological agenda undermining individual freedom.

You should have screamed when recycling became mandatory, you should have screamed at the monopoly on roads and trash collection.

Obviously the danger with these schemes is that the government will push more unjust law, and use its own citizens to report on other's violations.

The only way this works is because people have a false reverence towards the state, they believe that by making law, it has the power to make just what is unjust, and unjust what is just.

From experience, most people on Slashdot have a good intuition, nevertheless when pressed a little they fall back on a positivist view of law, giving governments the authority to define what is and is not a crime for example. Sad.

In Germany as well (2, Informative)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830307)

I know that in Germany (living here, have heard it from people dealing with government official agencies) a comparable system is being deployed as well. People are being hired to check for "incongruities" in the neighboorhood; to what full extent i don't know, but i do know that it encompasses the first listed things as well, like checking for litter, unsafe locations, etc.

Doesn't sound very good to me.

History repeats itself (0, Offtopic)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830383)

My mother grew up in Stalinist Russia. One of her neighbors had some land that another neighbor wanted. One night, the police showed up, claimed she had "old money" which was paper money from before Stalin took power, and she was taken away and never seen again. Here is further evidence that environmentalism is the new flavor of fascism. Call these people on their bullsh*t every chance you get.

How long... (1)

cephah (1244770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830393)

... Until they recruit children to spy on their parents? Honestly, this is the road they're going down here.

We've already tried this over here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24830395)

... in Germany, these people were called "Blockwart" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockwart). Worked fine from the governments view, I think. On a grander scale, the Soviets and Allied fortunately stopped us from extending this system over all of Europe. I guess the Britains try to develop the high art of learning from those you defeated. Its a kind of Zen, really.

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November..."

Re:We've already tried this over here... (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830597)

Well, we've already got a PM with about as much electoral legitimacy as Hitler did. Adopting Nazis snooping tactics is just the next logical step.

Remember remember (1)

KirkTBrujah (860102) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830455)

Remember, remember The Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason and plot. I know of no reason Why the Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot. People shouldn't be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

It's for the greater good. (2, Interesting)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830459)

"It's for the greater good." Did none of these idiots see "Hot Fuzz"??? Sheesh!

We've had this in America for a long time (2, Informative)

Whatever Fits (262060) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830485)

Here we call it Home Owner's Associations. They have the legal right to lien your house if you don't cut your lawn. In my experience, the "police" for these groups are bored, older, retired people who volunteer to spy on their neighbors, their neighbor's neighbors, etc. Did I mention they were bored?

Ask the East Germans how that worked out. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#24830539)

Not to mention the Cubans, the North Koreans, and any other country where people were encouraged to spy on their neighbors.

-jcr

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