By Amy Oliver
A council has been forced to deactivate the voice function from CCTV cameras after residents complained about ‘machines of the police state’ ordering them out of the area’.
One of the offending cameras, situated outside a block of flats in Camden, North London, was filmed barking orders at a resident, ordering him to leave in a ‘Robocop-style voice’.
Jim Jepps, who lives in the block, filmed the camera which was heard saying: ”Stop, this is a restricted area and your photograph is being taken.It will be sent for processing if you don’t leave the area now.’
His video became a YouTube hit, racking up 50,000 views.
Mr Jepps, 41, told MailOnline the temporary flash camera had been installed in September, but he had been alerted to its sinister message last week by a neighbour walking her dog.
‘It started barking orders at me in an American accent,’ Mr Jepps said.
‘But this is a residential area, 10 feet from our front door, 99 per cent of people who get snapped and shouted at by this thing are residents going about their business, having a smoke or walking their dogs,’ he added.
Camden Council said it had installed the camera in response to complaints of anti-social behaviour on the estate.
But Home Office crime maps show no crimes were recorded on the estate in 2011.
The council also revealed that all flash cameras ‘have the capacity to deliver voice messages when activated’.
It said the voice function of the Walker House camera must have been ‘inadvertently activated’ when the batteries were replaced ‘four to five weeks ago’.
‘We do not want to stop residents from enjoying their open spaces and communal areas and under no circumstances would we want voice messages to be used in areas where they may be disturbed,’ the council said.
A spokesman for the council said the camera was ‘deactivated first thing this morning.’
Nick Pickles of pressure group Big Brother Watch said: ‘This kind of technology may be acceptable in a police state or a science fiction film, but it is absolutely not in modern Britain.
‘The idea that a Robocop recording will tackle anti-social behaviour and crime is as laughable as it is a total invasion of privacy.
‘Who knew councils had the authority to take your photograph simply because you walked into a communal garden?’
Around two million CCTV camera are believed to be installed across the country.
Models like the Walker House camera with voice functions were first used in Middlesbrough in 2007.