Watchers of the night

I have been contacted by a resident of Friezland Lane, Walsall Wood, who understandably would like to remain anonymous. They have noticed that a CCTV surveillance camera has appeared in the lower end of Friezland Lane, mounted high on a lamp post. It apparently appeared one day without warning.

The resident doesn’t know who installed the camera, or why, and who’s watching the pictures, and is understandably somewhat concerned. I share their concern. I’d also be a bit worried that it’s at bedroom height in a residential street.

I’m appealing here to whoever may be responsible – Walsall Council, West Midlands Police or whoever – to come clean with the local community. I had a quick scoot round, but couldn’t find any more such devices, but if you know of any, please do drop me a line.

Big brother watching you? High up on a lamp post in Freizland Lane, Walsall Wood, there’s a surveillance camera. But who installed it, who’s watching the output, and why? 6:36pm, Sunday, 9th September 2012.

The device is a 360 degree, apparently wireless camera powered from the lighting column, capable of viewing anything in the surrounding street. Wonder if the people opposite are happy for it to be peering in through their windows? 6:37pm, Sunday, 9th September 2012.

This entry was posted in Bad Science, Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Council, Walsall Wood stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Watchers of the night

  1. Rich Burnell says:

    This is most unusual. If it was a public body or business they would be required to have a sign explaining why images are being recorded and who to contact for information. Covert police surveillance is heavily regulated under RIPA and in my humble (and slightly dated) experience would not be carried out in this manner. It appears to be a microwave transmission device, which unless very expensive usually only have a range of a mile or two to the controller. Given the residential location I would report this to west mids police, asking it to be crimed as a suspected voyeur under the sexual offences act 2003.

  2. Rich Burnell says:

    Unless the council have consented to this they could also asked for it be crimed and investigated as abstracting electricity under the theft act.

  3. There’s a house round the corner from us where the police were regularly called out for anti-social behaviour, dodgy looking cars turning up at funny hours, that sort of thing. One of these, or very similar, appeared on the lamppost outside there. I think it’s gone again now.

  4. Rich Burnell says:

    Interesting Peter. If it is police surveillance it will have to have been authorized by an officer ranked Superintendent or higher depending on what’s being watched. It would also have to be intelligence driven (i.e. good evidence of illegal activity prior to installation in a specific location.) It would also be subject to constant review. I’d say a no comment from the council or police on the subject would be a good indication this is the case.

  5. This is a Domehawk camera, which are portable cameras that can be installed on street lights or buildings to temporarily monitor activity. It is not a covert camera, as it is quite plainly visible and anyone looking at it could guess what it’s doing.

    It is not covered by RIPA, as the camera is overtly placed to monitor an area, not directed surveillance at a particular person. The images will most probably be recorded by Walsall Council’s CCTV unit. There will be safeguards under the Data Protection Act, which cover the use of these systems. The council is registered under the Act.

    All council cameras are programmed so that they cannot be directed into any private dwelling. I would guess that the same applies to these cameras as well.

    These and other cameras managed by the council can be used by the police to track the movements of individuals, but then it does become Directed Surveillance and the appropriate authority is required. However, to place such a camera in a residential street with the intention of monitoring the movements of an individual would not be the best tactic to use,

    Don’t ask me why it’s there, because I don’t know, but I hope that clears up some of the mystery?

  6. Rich Burnell says:

    In the event that the last post is correct, that this is general temporary surveillance as opposed to targeted surveillance, being coordinated by the council, then my understanding is that to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 there should be an accompanying sign. The sign should explain who is responsible for the system, why images are being recorded and who can be contacted for more information. The purpose of these signs is to prevent uncertainty about the nature and use of CCTV, and to prevent the need for a blog post to uncover what’s going on. I know there are some limited exceptions to the need to place a sign, I don’t think they would apply to this scenario but would be happy to hear otherwise. It would be handy to now know the following: 1) Is this CCTV legitimately installed and being monitored by Walsall Council 2) If so, why has the council either not placed a sign explaining why images are being recorded, who is responsible for the CCTV and further contact details as required by DPA 1998 or why does the council feel this CCTV equipment is exempt from such requirements?

  7. Julie Le-Moine says:

    My mum lived in this lane and it is used as a rat run in rush hour…maybe they are monitoring the traffic?…If so…long overdue

  8. Tim Lewis says:

    Make a BIG show of disabling it (NO vandalism, simply cover it up). Then see who complains!

  9. jimbo says:

    It’s my understanding that these cameras can be fully remotely controlled from vehicles e.g. police cars using a mobile transmitter/receiver within a 2.5 mile radius and have a 23x optical zoom + 16x digital zoom.

    To say this device is programmed so it cannot peer through windows is a mistake if the operator so chooses they can zoom in and look at anything in detail record video capture stills or just watch live!.

    Apparently one camera was stolen in Caldmore Walsall in April this year the cameras cost approximately £7.500 but alarmingly the theft wasn’t noticed for 5 days….

  10. Walsall Housing Group says:

    The CCTV camera was installed by whg in response to a complaint from residents in the street. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our customers and the camera was installed to aid our investigation.

    The residents concerned have been informed that the camera has been installed.

    • Hello.

      I’m pleased we’ve finally found who the device belongs to, and what it’s doing.

      I would tenure you haven’t been communicative enough with residents concerned, as three have written to me with concerns that this unit is either spying on them, or is at bedroom height.

      WHG’s communications being poor isn’t new, and that comes as no surprise, frankly.

      Can I ask who’s monitoring this and where the video goes? Security is important. Pop over to YouTube and search for Walsall CCTV, and understand why residents and members of the public feel concerned about such a thing installed without notification or information.

      Looking forward to a reply

      Bob

  11. Walsall Housing Group says:

    Here’s a link to our CCTV leaflet which explains what happens to our footage. http://www.whg.uk.com/mediaFiles/downloads/40899612/All_about_how_we_use_CCTV_Aug12_FINAL.pdf

    I will pass on your concerns to our Head of Housing Neighbourhood Services and he will look into the ways we communicate such issues with residents.

  12. pissed of resident says:

    i think u should mind your on business. ThIs would only bother people if they had somthing to hide so instead of going round taking silly pictures why dont you get a life.Also have YOU GOT PERMISSION FROM THE CAR OWNER TO DISPLAY THERE REG.????????????????????????????????????????.

    • Hi

      I was responding to an enquiry from several residents. It does no harm to find out who’s watching you. If someone asks me to help, I’ll help them.

      You don’t need permission to display a car registration. It’s not a private document, it’s on display to be recorded by all manner of camera devices as you drive.

      Using your own logic, if the driver has nothing to hide…

      Cheers

      Bob

      • peter says:

        Hi Bob, Keep up the good work.
        With reference to the “‘pissed of resident” I think of should have 2 f’s, I think on should be own and THERE ought to be THEIR.
        just a thought!!

  13. resident says:

    Its about time we got a camera should of been put up a longtime ago if
    WHG done there job right in the first place it wouldnt have come to this

  14. Another long suffering resident says:

    About time camera was up I live on that road and sick of certain family’s letting their kids run riot having parties outside doing drugs etc monitor them and evict them

  15. Pingback: Now they see us, now they don’t… « brownhillsdog

  16. Pingback: The all-seeing eye « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  17. resident says:

    ITS ABOUT TIME WHG LISTENED TO THE COMPLAINTS MADE AND ACTED ON IT

  18. resident says:

    cameras in friezland lane have been taken down
    and the drug dealing has started again

    • Walsall Housing Group says:

      Hi, I’ve just spoken to our Community Safety Team who have informed me that the camera will be re-installed this week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s