Cameras catch illegal dumping: 'Mainly locals in slippers and nightgowns'

Cameras catch illegal dumping: 'Mainly locals in slippers and nightgowns'
Credit: Belga

Two cameras have been set up to catch people who illegally dump household waste near public rubbish bins in the Flemish city of Sint-Niklaas, and have helped authorities identify over ten fly-tippers.

The cameras were installed to identify people on the basis of clear images of faces or vehicle number plates and to recognise patterns of illegal dumping.

"The cameras caught no fewer than ten local residents, some wearing slippers and nightgowns, who regularly dumped," city councillor for Mobility, Carl Hanssens, told The Brussels Times, adding that the police will be able to identify them.

By catching out people who regularly dump their trash - one person is linked to 16 such offences - authorities can ensure fines are high enough, as this person for example would be fined €350 for every time trash is dumped, which "can send a strong signal," Hanssens said.

The two cameras, which only film and don't take pictures for privacy reasons, are hidden away in dumping hotspots, "so, unlike surveillance cameras, they are not used preventively," but rather to catch perpetrators.

On the basis of the findings and analysis of the camera footage, a neighbourhood survey will be carried out and an investigation in collaboration with the police will be started. At certain dumping "prime times", police will be sent to the hotspot areas.

Although the cameras offer help when identifying fly-tippers, a lot of work goes into them, as "images must be viewed by authorised personnel, which is very labour-intensive, the cameras run on batteries and must be recharged after 48 hours, and they are susceptible to vandalism," Hanssens explained.

"Once they are discovered, they are no longer 'useable' and we have to set them up in another location," he added.

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