Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Social Irresponsibility.

The British were a nation of shopkeepers according to a dismissive comment from Napoleon however he was soon about to have his Waterloo so to speak. These days the British have a new reputation as a nation of animal lovers. Whenever a  generalisation is made, there are the exceptions that come to the forefront. Following on from Social Responsibility and Social Interaction. Today I bring you Social Irresponsibility.

You know me, I'm all for dog walkers clearing up when a dog has to do, what a dog has to doo doo. However, I think that there are limits to what you can do, before whatever you are doing becomes disproportionate and a questionable activity, when practised at night. In a night time activity that would only make a foaming at the mouth "Disgusted of Hyndburn" feel happy. Settle down children and "Watch with Mother Big Brother" if only it was with the wonderful Daphne Oxenford. *

Step forward Hyndburn Council in Lancashire. In a country where spying on the populace apparently knows no bounds. In a country where street cameras are a constant reminder of the late arrival of 1984 by George Orwell. Hyndburn Council has taken night time dogging surveillance techniques to a new level of expertise. Ultra sophisticated night vision equipment has been issued to a small select band of council workers. Covert wardens are now being plotted up in public places in Hyndburn.

I wonder if the wardens get issued with hard hats and body armour.  Can you imagine the furore if a dogging surveillance warden. Kitted up with his night vision equipment should be spotted by a high profile local dignitary, engaged in a bit of, extra curricular Ugandan of an evening.

The equipment it is alleged is being used to catch errant pet owners walking their dogs at night. Add to this the use of plain clothes council officers and surveillance vehicles being used to monitor the public areas. Miles Parkinson, council leader in Hyndburn said "It's difficult at those times because the person has to be caught in the act. However, with night vision, wardens can see much further along footpaths where the problem occurs and catch offenders. We hope that if people know that night vision is available to our wardens, it will serve as a deterrent. Hyndburn's wardens new technology allows them to work at all hours in areas not illuminated by street lighting."

Now, call me an old and cynical pet person if you must, but this is a voyeurs charter. Ask yourself, why would a cash strapped council want to purchase expensive night vision equipment and surveillance vehicles. Then pay wardens to go out on a night shift to monitor popular places where people are out and about doing various activities one of which might also include walking a dog.

Now one of the things I know about night vision equipment (I own some myself for my observing bat activities)  is that it does not perform very well if a flash light is used by people to illuminate an area when out walking. Point the light at the night vision equipment and you can see jack shi nothing! The one night time activity when a flash light is used is when walking a dog. Night time activities where you might not want to use a torch and where night vision equipment might work - I will leave to the readers imagination. In the past three years, a very proactive Hyndburn Council has fined around 50 people during daylight hours for failing to clear up after their pets. This is a very expensive sledge hammer to take to a doggie style walnut whip.

* Listen with Mother on radio and Watch with Mother on television were a great success in the 50's and 60's and are fondly remembered by many.

Later....





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