What is the point of all of this nanny state stuff
Thu 23 Nov 2006
Big Brother is watching you!
GEMMA FRASER (
SMOKERS stubbing out cigarettes in the street have been chased by environmental wardens armed with cameras in a city centre litter crackdown.
A council team has been scouring the Old Town this week trying to catch litter louts in the act, a drive which has raised more than a few eyebrows.
One girl was stopped and quizzed after discarding the end of her sandwich, while another untidy citizen was reprimanded during his music class after being followed by the wardens.
And the keen-as-mustard environmental officers even attempted to track a diner to an Old Town restaurant after he was spotted throwing away his cigarette.
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The council today defended the use of mobile cameras alongside the highly-visible wardens, and said the crackdown reassured local businesses and residents.
The Evening News joined traders and commuters watching in slight bemusement yesterday morning as the CCTV van parked up on George IV bridge.
Two large pivoted cameras and several smaller ones filmed passers-by, while at least two pairs of environmental wardens patrolled the streets.
Simon Angelosanto, 21, who works in the Elephant House coffee shop on George IV bridge, said: "It is a total waste of money - I dread to think what that van costs. They just sit there waiting for an unsuspecting member of public to be caught on camera dropping litter."
He said a friend had been caught out by the environmental wardens this week in the Grassmarket area.
"They interrupted his music class at Sound Control because they saw him dropping litter and he was given a £50 fine," he said.
Staff at an Old Town restaurant revealed that environmental wardens came in looking for a suspected litter lout. One worker said: "They came in and said they saw someone in an orange jacket throwing a cigarette and coming into the restaurant.
"They asked if we had any workmen on site, but we hadn't seen this man. It was just so bizarre."
Alice White, 18, who also works at the Elephant House, said: "My friend was eating a sandwich and she chucked her last bit of bread on the ground and they tried to fine her, but in the end they didn't.
"What's going to happen is the same as what happens with speed cameras - if people see these cameras and wardens then they're obviously not going to drop litter round here."
Smoker Michael Grant, 20, who also works on George IV bridge, said the cameras were "a bit extreme" and added: "It's definitely a bit 'Big Brother'.
But trader Abdul Mula, 33, who runs Mediterranean Gate on George IV bridge, is delighted the council is doing something.
"I think it's great," he said. "The cigarette ends are the worst. I think it's good that they're giving out fines because it might make people stop."
George Gear, 40, from Kirkliston, agreed the operation was a good idea. He said: "I think anything that keeps people on their toes is a good thing. Saying that, if I got lumbered with a £50 fine, I don't think I'd be very happy."
The CCTV unit, which is operated in partnership between the council and the police, has been used on a weekly basis in the Capital since 2004.
Sheila Gilmore, executive member for community safety, said: "Technology such as CCTV helps us to identify possible offences which otherwise may not have been picked up by the human eye.
"The presence of the mobile CCTV unit, which is a marked council vehicle, not only stands to reassure local business owners and residents but also to act as a deterrent to possible offenders.
"This is reinforced by the highly visible environmental wardens who work on the streets."
The council has issued 4847 fixed penalty tickets for littering and fly-tipping offences and 648 dog-fouling fixed penalties since October 2001.