Big Brother is shouting at you: Robocop camera orders people off Camden estate
Camden Council has been accused of taking Big Brother surveillance a step too far after a Robocop-style talking CCTV camera began ordering people to leave an estate.
Jim Jepps, 41, was so disgruntled by the camera barking orders in an American accent that he posted a video of it on YouTube, which quickly went viral and has clocked up more than 66,000 hits.
The camera was designed to tackle anti-social behaviour and took pictures of people as they walked past communal gardens in the Walker House Estate in Chalton Road, King’s Cross.
But tempers flared when the device began barking “Stop, this is a restricted area and your photograph is being taken, it will be sent for processing if you don’t leave the area”.
Mr Jepps, who lives on the estate and is editor of the website Big Smoke, said: “For me the flash camera and the voice isn’t tackling anti-social behaviour, it is anti-social behaviour.
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“We are being discouraged from using our communal areas with this camera, which actually makes it less safe.”
The video shows Mr Jepps walking towards the camera as it issues the stern warning and is titled “Who the hell do Camden Council think they are?”.
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The camera was installed by Camden Council last September after residents expressed concerns the estate had become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.
But the council insists the voiceover was “inadvertently activated” when the camera’s batteries were changed a month ago.
A spokesman said: “We do not want to stop residents from enjoying open spaces and under no circumstances would we want voice messages to be used in areas where they may be disturbed.”
The talking camera has divided opinion.
Zeigniew Wlszewaski, of Walker House Estate, said: “Over the weekend and on Friday evenings there was lots of trouble. I think the camera has improved the area.”
But Haverstock Liberal Democrat Cllr Matt Sanders said: “Not only is Big Brother watching you - now he’s shouting at you as well.
“People want CCTV that makes our streets safer, not intrusive machines that verbally assault innocent residents.”