In April 2011, according to The Guardian, two Gloucester citizens were the focus of a 20.000 pound police operation for taking no more than 47 pence worth of scrap from a tip, in the form of an electric drill and a video game console. According to The Sun, the two were arrested while walking home from the scarp yard by eight police officers, grouped into two vans, three patrol cars, two dog units, and even more surprisingly, a helicopter. They were then held overnight in a cell and questioned the following day. It is not clear yet who reported the ‘’crime’’, as the Gloucester Police superintended classed it; chances are live monitoring of the scrap yard was involved.
As the UK turns into a police state, we will certainly hear more stories of this kind. To the average citizen this is of course shocking, especially considering the magnitude of the operation for an incredible trifle. There is no doubt that by allowing media exposure, a message of intimidation was sent to the general public, namely that they are being scrutinized and taking any liberty of this kind, even though it is not an immoral act or detrimental to anyone, will result in serious consequences. Anywhere in their communities, when outside their homes, people should become aware that they are being constantly watched. Of course we now know Orwell’s 1984 was anything but fiction and that any similarities between the world he envisaged and present day reality are no coincidence. Most people still refuse to believe that the absurdity and persecution of citizens will intensify, yet when the misappropriation of rubbish brings about a helicopter chase, even the most placid and unaware should sense that something isn’t right.
Recycling bin inspections are not a new notion today, although a few years ago, they did generate some backlash, especially since recycling was not mandatory and people going out of their way to comply were being targeted and their recycling rummaged through. Today however there’s little fuss about it; people have adapted.
Putting out the rubbish or/and recycling for collection too early will also result in a fine from the council, as previous cases have proved. The manner in which the council becomes aware that the rubbish bins are out before collection actually takes place is not dwelled upon though – surprisingly enough. In one famous case and presumably other cases as well, it was through CCTV monitoring. Enquiries made to councils proved that not even elderly people, who need someone else to move the bins for them and place them outside, are exempt from this rule. It seems that councils and even courts, if appealed to, have no moral qualms nowadays about imposing hefty fines on financially disadvantaged people who cannot afford to pay them.