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Sofia's Letters from London #3
by Sofia Gkiousou
2006-10-07 10:47:19
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Antisocial behaviour is currently a big thing in Britain. So big in fact that in many towns Big Brother is not only watching you but He can also talk to you. George Orwell was more of a seer than we give him credit for.

Many towns in Britain are now using what is officially labelled as ‘public address voice activation’, or simply loudspeakers to go with their CCTV cameras. This means that an operator watching the camera’s feed can issue warnings, like “The police are coming” and other such niceties.

Let me be absolutely clear here. I don’t want to analyse this as an expert – which I am not - but I do want to offer my thoughts as a citizen; a very uncomfortable citizen, at that. You see, when I read the news I initially thought that this is a scheme utilising the shame factor. In other words, you tell off a child in public, embarrass them and so the behaviour stops. Or so public misinformation goes because most children just hold a grudge if you embarrass them in public. Not to mention how utterly impolite it is to do so.

And then I thought; assume I was kissing my boyfriend in the streets and some operator shouted out ‘stop fondling each other, you are insulting people’. A grotesque example but it will do. How would I feel then? If it was a good day I’d probably laugh, if it was a bad day I’d probably throw stones at the camera. And this is me talking, law-abiding, tax-paying, thoroughly-part-of-the-system kind of a gal.

Go on. Imagine something simple. And then imagine someone telling you off from loudspeakers.

Oh, yes, I hear you say, but surely this will only target criminals! Well, not necessarily. It targets antisocial behaviour, which is a fuzzy concept at the best of times. A law does exist, of course, but I am at a loss as to how they came up with it as what is antisocial for me might not be for my neighbour. At least that would explain the fighting at 2 in the morning.

Irrespective of all that, who thinks that real… naughty people will be deterred by loudspeakers? What utter stupidity. And I have the perfect example for you. One night my sister woke up at 3 in the morning, opened the window of her first floor bedroom and caught two youngsters in the act of stealing the mirrors of our motorbike. Annoyed, surprised and frightened her first impulse was to shout out, which she did. “What the fuck do you think you are doing?” she enquired the industrious youths. To which one of them looked up, smiled and answered as cool as you please “What do you think we are doing”?

There you have it. Loudspeakers on CCTV cameras show - very much like my lovely sister – annoyance, surprise and fear. What a waste.

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Asa2006-10-06 16:31:00
I feel like I'm under surveilence all the time...

Sofia2006-10-07 17:00:28
Hey... I seem to recall a great Hitchcock movie - Rear Window. Lisa (Grace Kelly) trying to talk some sense into Jeff simply says that if under surveillance we all do things that would appear suspicious to any outsider.

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