I still can’t work up any enthusiasm for the various uses that cameras, technology, and software are being increasingly combined in order to net what can only be called Soft Targets, and decree them GUILTY of whatever offence they are programmed to detect.
We have speed cameras (disguised as safety cameras), red light cameras, and now the hunt is underway for the car occupancy camera, able to count the number of live bodies in a car, and automatically issue fines to any cars with only one occupant in a designated car-sharing lane.
I have no issue with the capture and conviction of offenders, but there is seems to be an increasing zeal in the creation of systems which can have some sort of trigger point set, and anyone that trips it is assumed GUILTY of the corresponding offence, and issued with a Fixed Penalty. This is accompanied by simultaneous initiation of a legal process which will lead to the escalation of the offence, and penalty, if the Fixed Penalty is not cleared in the allotted time interval, and can eventually have the police on your doorstep with a warrant.
This means we have a system that says you are guilty if any one of these systems ‘sees’ you, and you have been tried and convicted of whatever offence they are programmed to watch out for. If you wish to contest the penalty that has been served on you, YOU have to appeal, go to court, and spend time and money to prove your innocence. Not only that, there is a time limit in place, and if you don’t act fast enough, the opportunity will be lost, and those nice police officers will be knocking at your door with that warrant again.
I don’t want to get down to the nit-picking level of describing or arguing situations where the cameras get it wrong – sufficient to say that cases are dismissed, and circumstances are presented which nulify their guilty verdict.
There is also the crazy situation we have now where insurance companies have advised their clients, if stopped, NOT to pull forward and pass through a red traffic light to allow the police, ambulance, or fire service to pass, as they will trigger the camera and be issued with a fixed penalty that can only be cancelled by going to court, and that their appeal is unlikely to succeed.
Now that there are so many programmes following the police around as they try to do their job, I find it almost incredible that a camera can be set up to record potential driving offenders, and issue fines and guilty verdicts automatically, while at the same time a team of police officers that apprehend a individual carrying a bag of tools, and the proceeds of a burglary, cannot secure a conviction based on the evidence they have, and many of the the stories end with the poor victim claiming he just found them, or that he can’t actually be placed at the scene, and is released without charge.
How about a camera system linked to burglar alarm that takes a picture of the nearest person to a burglary, identifies them viasome face-matching software to known burglars, and then issues them with a fixed penalty? If they want to argue that it wasn’t them, then they can appeal against the the fine or conviction.
Better still, develop the camera so it is a bit smarter, and can read the target’s DNA, then all it will have to do is match it to someone on the forthcoming National DNA Database, and we can do away with the need to have any sort of human intervention in the process at all.