Bin lorries being fitted with CCTV cameras to spy on what residents are up to
Cameras are being put on bin lorries to try to catch out residents.
Bin lorries are being kitted out with CCTV cameras to monitor refuse collection with footage used as a tool to check what residents are putting in their bins.
Boston Borough Council is just one which has installed the surveillance equipment on its fleet – and some authorities across the country have as many as seven cameras per truck, monitoring every angle.
The spy cameras are said to be aimed at minimising false claims for damages or injuries supposedly caused by the trucks as well as mediating disputes between residents and binmen and reducing fraudulent insurance claims following accidents.
Footage has already been used to disprove claims damage caused to parked vehicles – and property – was caused by bin lorries.
But councils are also reviewing footage to check what residents are putting in their bins.
In one case Boston council used the cameras to discover a man was putting hypodermic needles in his rubbish, and he was later filmed swearing and threatening binmen.
He pleaded guilty at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court at the end of July to possessing an offensive weapon and using threatening, abusive and insulting words and behaviour. He was fined £120 and ordered to pay £40 costs, Lincolnshire Live reported.
With multiple complaints each year over missed collections, the length of time between collections and poor service, residents are growing increasingly frustrated.
The cameras are being used in an attempt to disprove some complaints, such as bins not being collected when actually residents did not put them out on time.
Councillor Michael Brookes, Boston Borough Council’s portfolio holder for refuse collection and recycling, said: “Some may have felt uneasy when the CCTV systems were installed on the lorries, but they have proved worthwhile and are only used responsibly and lawfully.
“They have proved invaluable in the case of fraudulent claims, which would have cost council tax payers to defend against, and provide savings to all where people just have not presented their bins and have demanded that we call again.”
And the Government’s surveillance cameras commissioner described Boston Borough council’s CCTV processes as “a beacon of good practice for others to follow”.
An inspector from the commission, which makes checks on covert surveillance, said the council “remained entirely focused on the nature of its responsibilities and the need to ensure that, even if the event is unlikely, if and when the need may arise, its activities will be lawful.”
A report ‘Lifting the lid on bin complaints’ released last month by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found 81 per cent of complaints were upheld last year, a jump from 59 per cent the year before.
Some of the shocking revelations the report uncovered was one women who had to resort to phoning her council every fortnight for three months before her rubbish was collected.
One man was forced to take his refuse to a relatives for three months after the council failed to collect his bins.
And a man, receiving assisted collections, did not have his bin put back in right place by refuse workers for 10 months.
The report found that savings initiatives may have contributed to a dip in quality, and outsourcing waste collection to save money was found to be at the heart of complaints.
Michael King, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Councils can contract out their waste services, but they cannot wash their hands of it.
“They are responsible and accountable for delivering those services, and for putting things right when they go wrong. Outsourced should not mean out of touch.
“Many thousands of bins are collected successfully every day in England. But the complaints we investigate tell the story of real public experiences.”