Just getting home from a photo-taking expedition in the snow and my neighbour points the camera out to me.

Now, the flash camera has been there for a while, we’ve complained about it before and we’ve been told the objective is to move people on. Seeing as this is our communal garden I’ve never really felt that was an adequate explanation.

There’s no illegal activity here, no anti-social behaviour. The worst it ever gets is the kids running round which, I understand, some people might not like, but frankly kids should run round – it’s their job.

But this was new. Watch the film and be aghast!

Who the hell do Camden Council think they are?




  1. Stephen Lee says:

    It makes you wonder why these councils are such arseholes.

  2. John Hodgson says:

    Disgraceful. Have you contacted The Manifesto Club about this?

  3. Nick says:

    Clearly it’s a security measure, like a burglar alarm, and this not intended for you.

    Have you tried just ignoring it and having some fun, instead?

    • James says:

      Why should he have to hear a burglar alarm in his garden?

      If you want everyone to ignore it then who is going to listen to it?

    • Gerald says:

      I can see why people would object to having this camera in their garde. On the other hand I doubt if it is placed there to stop children playing, my guess is that it is to deter street drinkers, drug addicts and people who would attack residents. Think carefully, how could things be without the camera. I am no advocate of the Big Brother State, however I really do feel that the camera in question has the potential to be of great use.

  4. CT says:

    Agree with Nick. If you know an alternative, not-so-robocop way of deterring vandals/protecting the investment then constructively suggest it to CC.

    • Cathryn says:

      You miss the point. What vandalism? As Jim clearly says, there isn’t a problem with vandalism in Walker House. Why do you think residents should be told not to use their own communal areas?

      • Numpty says:

        “Head & Shoulders? But you don’t have dandruff! ”
        “Exactly! “

        • Tim says:

          Wait, so the camera is solely responsible for crime deterrant in a place where no crime happened before the camera was installed?

          It’s safe to say the person didn’t have dandruff to begin with, and magically attributed the continuation of said lack of dandruff to a new shampoo.

          Which is ridiculous.

    • James says:

      Even if this was an area with problems, assuming that everyone is guilty first is somehow against the way the justice system should be and is sold to us I would think?

  5. Jim Jepps says:

    There is no crime in Walker House, none. Crime stats website shows this. This is totally unnecessary.

    It was much more fun in the garden before I was told I was in a restricted area.

    • Alex says:

      I’d find it more fun knowing it was a restricted area. You know, that little thrill of danger at being somewhere you’re apparently not supposed to be.

  6. Nick says:

    Yes, but because there’s no crime doesn’t mean Camden Council shouldn’t take precautions for that eventuality.

    Do you have a contact for whoever maintains that part of the property?

    You might get more of a response by talking to them directly, rather than implying to the Internet that you’re a powerless victim of big brother’s panopticon.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      Precautions? What, everywhere? Who are you – Stalin?

      I’m not powerless, and never said I was. The council is responsible for that ‘part of the property’ and they don’t work weekends!

      Obviously I’m going to contact them, why wouldn’t I? It’s outside my front door!

      Sorry, outside my ‘restricted area’.

      • Nick says:

        Stalin? You really are hysterical, aren’t you.

        Clearly it’s not an area restricted for you or anyone else who lives there. Call your council.

        • Tim says:

          Do you work for Camden council Nick? I cant imagine any other reason you would think this is ok.

        • Ken Raas says:

          @Nick, you can surely see the unpleasantness of disembodied voices barking threats at people indiscriminately simply for being in communal areas.

          Management of crime has to be balanced with quality of life for the many. Heavyweight authoritarian methods may/may not have an impact on anti-social behaviour, but is the controlled, paranoid society it accompanies one worth living in.

        • John says:

          All councils seem to be the same. Its like they take this high and mighty attitude sort of un-human like and treat the people who are paying their wages with contempt.

  7. GerryMiller says:

    Nick this is crazy a camera that take your pic to be monitored just for standing in your garden!! how can you say thats all right. its invation of Privacy.

  8. Adolf Hitler says:

    I bet the people who run the camera equipment are private wheel-clampers by day.
    Fucking Nazi scum the lot of them.

  9. Em says:

    Er. Why is there a pleasant-looking gazebo and benches for sitting on if it’s a ‘restricted area’ and you’re not supposed to be there?
    Don’t make it look attractive to sit and linger if you don’t WANT anyone to do so!

  10. Dave says:

    It might be worth asking whoever you speak to at the council whether there was any sort of consultation with residents about the installation of the camera or if it was an executive decision taken unilaterally by the council. The best thing to do in this scenario is to kick up a stink and get as many of your neighbours as possible to contact the council to complain about it. If they think they are going to lose votes in the area over the issue when the next council elections roll round then that camera will be removed in no time.

  11. Ken Raas says:

    You have 20 seconds to comply

  12. Simon says:

    Just ignore it. Put a bucket over it and ignore it. It’s a communal garden. You have your fun and do what you want in the garden providing the bucket is over the camera.

    • Nuwave says:

      Better yet, stick a picture of Jeremy Clarkson’s face to the inside of said bucket. That ought to blow some fuses at the council.

  13. Can’t believe there are people who don’t find this offensive, and worse, think it’s a good thing.

    I would love to be a cop in their world. Just imagine being paid to go around screaming threats in the faces of the people who foot your bills, then smugly insisting it’s okay because they should just ignore you. Hell, even a traffic warden would probably get to indiscriminately kick people in the nuts. It’d be brilliant. Bit crap for everyone else, but screw them for being potential criminals, right?

  14. John Hodgson says:

    Sinister, I have to agree. This is a no-brainer, at least in a society that I want to live in. It reminds me of the talking CCTV that Middlesbrough council installed about five years ago where some disembodied minimim-wage bod barked at passers by who dropped crisp packets* – a scene which would slot into Bladerunner.
    *Dropping crisp packets is naughty, but two wrongs etc….

  15. Cathryn says:

    And this at a time when they’re cutting needed services in Camden. Still, I can think of a job that could go – whoever thought this was a good idea.

  16. rob cornelius says:

    can I make a suggestion… get as many people as you can to trigger this off as often as possible. If its really doing what it says its doing and taking pictures and “processing” them then the more you actually trigger it the less cost effective its going to be for the council.

    So the eventually it becomes a hassle to the council to keep “processing” the images and so get rid of it and learn a lesson.

    On the other hand its might be just a motion dector triggering the audio recording and the actual camera is a fake. Worth a try though. Oragainse a big snowball fight today for a start.

    • Rossi says:

      I think the snowball fight is an awesome idea. :) Basically, organise as many nice, normal, non-offensive group activities as you can in the ‘restricted area’ and watch the Council try and justify them as potentially criminal.

      “As you can see in this photo, the accused were clearly loitering with intent…”

      “It looks more like an afternoon tea party to me…”

      “But it’s a restricted area! The camera told them so!”

      “And what do you think they were planning to do with those scones? Maliciously eat them?”

  17. Sartori says:

    Like most others I’m stunned some people seem to think that this is ok.

    Even if you take the ridiculous view that it is there to combat crime, of which there isn’t any there, then how did it come to be that surveillance is the way to combat it?

    How many cameras such as this were around 20-30 years ago? Surely all our homes were broken into and our cars vandalised back in those technological dark ages? Well, no, they weren’t and although cameras can play a role in certain situations, this isn’t one of them.

  18. Steven says:

    Does this happen when you visit during the day or just at night? I could understand if it just operates between, say, 10pm and 6am

    • Jim Jepps says:

      Good question. Just nipped out to test it, dodging the snowmen.

      Don’t think it’s on (but there are loads of people playing in front of it which might mean harder to trigger…) so I reckon it’ll be on when it gets dark… which is about 6pm at the moment.

      Sorry can’t give details as council is shut and they only just put it up!

      • Annik Piriou says:

        The thing that I find most sinister is the bot’s accent. British bots for British restricted areas, and that’s “Leave the area, please”.
        Seriously though, it’s horrible. Imagine during a summer night, someone would be triggering it every few seconds & you’d be driven mad by it.

  19. Andrew Tindall says:

    just bloody smash it.

    there should be no place for authoritarian surveillance and movement control in this country.

  20. Matt Wardman says:

    I can see the sense in a camera for use as evidence after-the-fact, in case a crime (eg a mugging) has occurred.

    An auto-kneejerk ‘bugger, off – scum’ camera?. Er – no.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      In some ways bugger off scum would be better at least that would be ‘Camden’. The council were too lazy to even change the US settings so we have robocop going on about restricted areas -restricted area? Really Camden?

  21. Jim Jepps says:

    By the way in case I’d forgotten to mention it council worker emailed last night to say that these things cost about £25,000 – who needs libraries?

    • smilr says:

      Really? 25 thousand pounds for 1 camera, a motion detector and a speaker? I could see it being a couple hundred for a good quality camera, computerized detection of humans vs animals etc. and a sturdy weather / vandal proof housing. But the better part of the cost of a house for a single camera?

      Screw the annoyance of the talking, I would consider the outrageous cost a far more troubling issue!

  22. BigJoeCanoe says:

    To be fair, If you were wandering around my garden filming stuff and breathing like a sex-offender, I would have done a lot worse than take a pic of you.

  23. Dom says:

    If this was Wandsworth you would have to pay to enter the restricted area

  24. Grownupandproud says:

    Fantastic idea, stats show that it works. Hope they roll this out nationwide.

  25. Rigmarole says:

    It’s a fair bet that, come next week, some luckless individual on the council will be pushed forward to announce that it was all a regrettable mistake or someone else’s fault – the installers forgot to deactivate the voice, or they didn’t realize there was a RoboCop option, or the squirrels ate the instruction leaflet, or something.

    … and “We take your security very seriously.”

  26. Padster says:

    I think you’d be in the right to smash the bloody thing. Shin up the pole and smash it with a brick. It (£25k down the drain) would be the only thing these idiots would understand.

  27. Why not get one lot of Camden bureaucrats to investigate and if necessary to prosecute and fine the other lot for creating an illegal Noise Nuisance?

    This is clearly “machinery noise” operated by Camden Council who are not exempt from environmental protection laws and regulations.


  28. Nick says:

    Thanks for exposing this – we’re right behind you in stopping it!


  29. Natalie says:

    One of the madder things about this location for this camera (not that it would be acceptable in any communal garden) is that Walker House is arranged as a quadrangle, so the entrance for all of the flats overlook the garden, and there are always people coming and going. That helps to encourage a lovely sense of community that sees young children playing out in happy groups. We don’t need Neighbourhood Watch because we have community. People say hi and chat.

  30. Peter says:

    You brits vote for socialism ala 1984. This is what you pokey little nobodies get for being so nosey about your own fellow people.

  31. John Hodgson says:

    What a crass generalisation, Peter. What’s with this “you Brits” nonsense? I didn’t vote for Big Brother policies.

  32. Peter says:

    You may not have. But “Brits” do and did. Keep wailing against the councils to no effect. They don’t care about you now. Only London matters and the royalty.

  33. Jacques says:

    Take a grinder to it and cut the bastard off.

  34. BillyBloggs says:

    What a bunch of tossers, Residents should protest, and tell the useless burghers where to stick the lampost

  35. ED says:

    This is totally awful, but at the same time I find it hard to believe that the council would just push this through with absolutely no provocation. My suspicion is that there are a few paranoid curtain-twitchers living in that block, who happen to be the only people who turn up to local council meetings. It’s good that you’ve brought this to the attention of the public at large. Please let us know how the situation develops.

  36. Rocko says:

    I am genuinely staggered anybody is attempting to defend this. Unless it is magically able to distinguish between “people who are supposed to be here” and “people who aren’t supposed to be here” it’s indiscriminately telling every single person it detects to move on as well as taking their picture. Unless you don’t mind your picnic being soundtracked by an American robot telling you to go away, or pictures of you sunbathing being forwarded to the Council for their delectation, surely the effect of this is to render the garden unuseable?

    The base assumption (and the mentality of whoever decided to put it there, presumably) is that anyone in that garden i) shouldn’t be there, and ii) is up to no good. What a dim view Camden council has of its taxpayers.

  37. Happy says:

    Perhaps if you spoke to it nicely instead of all this abuse, it might leave you alone. Go and do something less boring instead!

  38. Mike Tonge says:

    Watch Cool Hand Luke then go and get yourself a bottle of whisky and some pipe cutters. You should be able to sneak up on the thing from behind and decapitate it without to much trouble.

    As an alternative, you could use it to take group photographs with your neighbors. To get the pictures from the Council, just make an Access to Personal Information request under the Data Protection Act 1998 (costs £10) and wait a few weeks for your prints to arrive. If each tenant did this once each, a week apart, you could keep the fun going for a long while.

  39. Mr F says:

    What a fuss over nothing, move back to china you communist

  40. Bursty O'Barney says:

    Cock up rather than conspiracy IMO
    Its just a configuration option that is inappropriately set for the area and the council will fix it when they realise their mistake… Won’t they

    LOL at the indignation and Double LOL @ the fool who thinks that this is OK

  41. Ali says:

    So apply for judicial review. The court will determine if they’ve overstepped their powers.

  42. Eddie Willers says:

    I’ll bet that the brown-nosing bureaucrat, who thought of this idea as being a good one, is related to those who acted as Oven-Door Closers in Auschwitz.

  43. James says:

    So. . . nobody has a stick long enough to rid the Garden of that Abomination?

    Wouldn’t take any longer than it took to shoot this video. Sneak up behind it if possible, a Guy Fawkes mask and a hat if not – bust it off of the pole. Drop a playing card (carefully cleaned of fingerprints) just to confuse the Tax Leeches.

    You paid for it, after all. . .

  44. Daephilia says:

    …what’s stopping criminals from gathering just outside it’s range?
    …it should be able to spot everyone everywhere…
    …but then what’s stopping criminals from plotting crime at home?
    … it should be able to hear everything everywhere
    …but what if no crime is committed yet?
    …sooner or later *EVERYONE* does something illegal… we will be there…

  45. dave says:

    I differ with Jim and, I’m sure, many others involved on the site in terms of civil liberties. I don’t see the problem with ID cards. I am generally in favour of cctv, and I often agree with deterrent arrests. I’m very much of the view that if you didn’t commit the crime you’ve nothing to fear.

    But how anyone could argue for this ridiculous camera in Camden is beyond me. It is intrusive. It is ineffective. And it was imposed on residents. Very glad the Council have seen sense and I hope they get rid of it asap.

  46. Ali says:

    These things aren’t new, I met one years ago on my way home, in the alley I think behind Tommy Flynn’s on Camden High Street. I’m glad to hear it’s real, at the time I thought I was hallucinating! They must have turned off the voice soon after, it only happened once.

  47. Camden Cuntcil WTF...... says:

    I live in the crapness of Camden Cuntcil where let me tell you we on our estate desperately needs CCTV to monitor the illegal trespassings and comings and goings and burglaries and Class A drug use which is rife. Then there’s the drug dealings of the residents. What do we get NOTHING. This cuntcil, all its employees, all the Councillors, MPs, are incompetent at best duh stoooopid with a special test they have to FAIL to get the job and at worst backhanders, corruption, deceit, cover-ups, jumping in bed with property developers, SKY TV, bar & club owners – and no regard for residents who pay for their insane ideas. This CCTV frankly is the very tip of the iceberg – no doubt installed with a nice fat cash backhander from the contractor to a Project Manager. You can’t even laugh at them, it’s not even funny ha ha or funny peculiar, it’s a tragedy of what solid Labour control of a borough for 28 years can do – socialism don’t make me laugh, we’d be better off with the Tories – at least they don’t sell of social housing in their boroughs.

  48. Anon says:

    Awful, Where you on the wanted list or does passing under it trigger a automated rant passed a certain time etc or was that a “live” power hungry civilian on minimum wage !……….Anyway (and I suspect with the new internet and phones laws coming in I’ll be arrested for saying this)
    Why don’t a group of you grow some balls and tear the things down! Under the circumstances criminal damage could be morally justified and besides your taxes paid for this liberty taking ….and before voting for these councillors who pass such agendas they should be made and quizzed by the locals to make clear their beliefs on such matters

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  50. Cam Den says:

    I think maybe just a camera and a sign would be enough. The voice command is not helpful. Of course people will object. What a thoughtless action on Camden’s behalf. Not to sound ungrateful for social housing but this system is insensitive.

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