Children as young as seven are being recruited by councils to act as 'citizen snoopers', the Daily Mail can reveal.Presumably, this is with the full knowledge and acquiescence of their parents?
The 'environment volunteers' will report on litter louts, noisy neighbours - and even families putting their rubbish out on the wrong day.
…Islington Council in north London has recruited 1,200 'Islington Eyes' to report crime hotspots, fly-tipping and excess noise from DIY.And if they are seen, and assaulted, or worse? Will the parents then have the cheek to take the councils to court for child endangerment?
Volunteers are given a list of things to do when confronted with fly-tippers, including taking photos 'without being seen'.
Seriously, what parent could agree to this? What sort of outlook on life must they have, to allow their children to be used in this way?
Welwyn Hatfield Council in Hertfordshire has given its 13 volunteers handheld computers to take photographs of problem areas.Handheld computers, eh? I wonder just how much that cost.
The information is then uploaded to a map of trouble spots.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Community spirit is one thing, spying on your neighbours is quite another.Well, indeed.
'It is the job of the police to maintain law and order, and there is no reason taxpayers should have to pay twice for the same service.
'People are sick and tired of being spied on by their councils and in a recession we simply cannot afford luxuries like handheld computers at a time when the most basic public services are being scaled back.'
But don’t expect them to cut back on the ‘green’ issues along with the meals-on-wheels and road repairs. No-one made their political fortune championing the non-trendy causes of making sure the roads were free of potholes and the grass verges kept tidy.
A spokesman for the council said: 'Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and its project partner Serco do not conduct any surveillance of residents in enforcement of environmental crimes, and neither do the community champions that have volunteered.'Why have you dished out hand-held computers with camera capability then?
Especially when other councils have been far more sensible, at least on the money aspect:
…Hillingdon Borough Council in north London, which has recruited 4,800 volunteers from the age of 16 in the past 18 months, simply gives its 'Street Champions' pens and a folder of contact details.Just how do you close down a brothel without spying on your neighbours?
A spokesman said: 'Street Champions themselves have confirmed that it is not a scheme where people are asked to spy on neighbours. Street Champions are asked to act just as any other resident might to report issues in their local area.'
The spokesman added that two brothels had been closed down this year as a result of reports.
And of course, the progressives hit back in the only way they know how:
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: 'Environment volunteers are people who care passionately about their local area and want to protect it from vandals, graffitists and fly-tippers.There, you see? You can justify anything these days, as long as you ‘care passionately’ about something that the progressives profess to care about…
'These community-spirited residents are not snoopers.
'They help councils cut crime and make places cleaner, greener and safer.'