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Councils to Install Microphones on Thousands of UK Streets to Catch 'Noise Polluters'


'Listening cameras' will join the AI trackers, ANPR cameras, pollution sensors, speed cameras, and 3D facial recognition cameras already installed.


The UK Government have given the go ahead for local authorities in England and Wales to install 'listening cameras' on thousands of roads across the country following a successful trial in Kensington and Chelsea last year.


The listening cameras are claimed to be needed to combat the 'modern scourge' or noisy car exhausts, and loud music. The microphones, which can detect anything above a whisper, will be set at 80 dbs. Upon hearing anything louder than that the camera will record an image of the vehicle, and its noise level, and automatically issue a fine set by the local Council.


Trials on the device took place last year with the Department for Transport unveiling funding of £300,000 for the initial phase. Two of the boroughs that fitted the devices were the London districts of Kensington and Chelsea, with locals being unaware of the

scheme in most cases. Borough officials issued a warning for the driver’s they caught for a 'first offence', but warned that a repeat offence could carry a fine of up to £2,500.


According to the Department of Transport road noise can be linked to people suffering from health problems like heart attacks, strokes and dementia. Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Boy racers are an anti-social menace and we have extensively trialled noise camera technology in various parts of the country over the past year."


To push through the listening cameras advocates have enlisted the help of the RAC who have published a supposed study claiming that the majority of drivers want to see the new “noise cameras” installed around the country to crack down on loud vehicles on the roads.

The motoring organisation states: "Almost three in five drivers (58 percent) are in favour of cameras that detect illegally loud vehicles, which have already been trialled in some areas. "

More than a third of drivers said they regularly heard people revving their engines or having “excessively loud” exhausts.


Simon Williams, RAC head of policy, said drivers had a strong desire to “end the scourge” of noisy vehicles that disturb the peace. He added: “It’s plain wrong that those who have fitted their cars with modified exhausts, some motorbike riders and supercar owners can currently just get away with making an unacceptable amount of noise. “Fortunately, the Department for Transport’s recent noise camera trials may provide the solution. We hope the findings are positive and that the technology can be quickly and cost-efficiently rolled out to the worst affected areas. “There is no good reason why cars and motorbikes should make so much noise, so the sooner effective camera enforcement can be put in place the better.”


Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Boy racers are an anti-social menace and we have extensively trialled noise camera technology in various parts of the country over the past year."


However, freedom campaigners have questioned what is really behind the move to install thousands of listening devices on our streets that will be connected to the 15 minute SMART network already being installed.


They say that the listening cameras will join the AI trackers, ANPR cameras, pollution sensors, speed cameras, and 3D Facial Recognition cameras already being installed across the nation. Campaigners point to the fact that Councils have previously used microphones hidden on city streets with the express purpose of spying on the public. The Sigard system was used in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Coventry and harvested huge amounts of data in the process.


The microphones, connected to Council CCTV cameras, could recognise aggressive “trigger” words and sounds, automatically directing cameras to zoom in on the speakers and how authorities are likely to misuse these new powers if not kept in check.


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