Council spy cameras to stop commercial waste at tips

RESIDENTS who take rubbish to the tip are being tracked by a series of hi-tech cameras.

RESIDENTS who take rubbish to the tip are being tracked by a series of hi-tech cameras.

People who visit Weston's recycling centre in Aisecombe Way are having their vehicle number plates logged by North Somerset Council in a bid to stop commercial rubbish being dumped.

But the effectiveness of the £30,000 system, which uses auto number plate recognition cameras, normally used by the police, has been rubbished by a surveillance watchdog.

Privacy International spokesman Simon Davis said: "Money spent on visual surveillance is wasted in this case because serial fly-tippers will simply cover up their plates."

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The unitary authority is yet to issue anyone with an on-the-spot fine or to write to anyone it believes is dumping waste, despite installing the system two years ago.

The authority is one of only 10 across England and Wales to use the measures. The cameras are at three different sites including amenity sites at Coles Quarry in Backwell and Valley Road in Portishead.

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A council spokesman said anyone who is identified by the system would be approached by staff at the centres in the first instance.

Offenders who fail to heed advice will be written to before any action is taken and the council says the scheme is 'educational' rather than punitive.

Officers monitoring the scheme, which costs £5,000 a year to maintain, are informed by text message of 'suspicious' registration plates, which can then be checked with the Driver and Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) to get personal details.

The council can also issue fines to residents who put their rubbish out early or on the wrong days, but so far none have been issued, although it has written to some people.

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