Robocop spy-cam speaks for itself

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The Independent Online

It is the snooper that speaks before anyone has the chance to step out of line.

A cross between Big Brother and Robocop, it barks orders at would-be vandals, graffiti artists and drug users.

British Transport Police and two local authorities are experimenting with revolutionary cameras which can spot when people are not where they should be.

The Flash Cam 530 takes its photographs with an intense flash that can read a car number plate in the pitch dark from 100 yards, and then issues a stern 15-second Robocop-style spoken instruction to leave the area.

Steve Galinsky, who started importing the cameras from America in May, said: "We have seven on trial across the country. Easington Council in County Durham is using them to stop fly-tipping. We've had no prosecutions so far, but no fly-tipping either."

British Transport Police has three cameras, two standing guard at Worcester's Shrub Hill station and one in Leamington Spa station, to stop graffiti vandals.

There is another at the memorial site to the victims of last year's rail crash in Potters Bar. Would-be vandals are told: "This is a dedicated memorial site. Please leave now. Your photograph has been taken and may be used to prosecute you."

In Camden, north London, drug addicts hear: "Please leave now if you have no business in this area. Your photograph has been taken and if you are conducting an illegal activity you will be prosecuted."

Mr Galinsky said Scotland Yard was in discussions over the cameras being installed throughout London. Westminster Council is considering a trial in central London.