Eye in the sky turns parking spy

SHARE

Faced with an allegedly aggressive and drunk young man, Arrowtown man Karl Day turned to the police for help.

A cop car was dispatched and he thought no more of it – until the following week when he was pinged with a parking fine for using a disabled carpark.

Architectural designer Day has fallen foul of ‘Officer 58’ - a CCTV camera used by police volunteers, in cahoots with Queenstown’s council, to monitor two disabled parks in Arrowtown’s main street.
 
“I think this is technology gone mad,” Day tells Mountain Scene

“That system’s supposed to protect us – what’s it doing now? It’s issuing bloody parking infringement notices against us.”

Arrowtown’s CCTV system was installed in 2005 and a council committee approved its use to monitor the disabled parks in 2012 – after a request from community volunteers.

Queenstown’s council confirms it has collected $28,800 directly, and more has come through the courts.

Council regulatory manager Lee Webster says using CCTV is a practical and appropriate way of ensuring the disability carpark’s available for those who need it.

Day reckons it breaches the Privacy Act, which says you need to make individuals aware that you are collecting their personal information and why.

An Arrowtown Village Association sign near one disabled carpark simply says: “CCTV Cameras in this area.”

Webster says: “Our legal advice is that CCTV evidence is permitted to be used to uphold or maintain the law.”

The association’s website acknowledges the mobility parking spaces come in for ‘special attention’ from Big Brother.

AVA secretary Annette Seddon says there has been a significant improvement in the parks’ availability since the monitoring started.

CCTV cameras are a hot topic for Privacy Commissioner John Edwards – whose office is surveying all councils about how they use their systems.

He doesn’t like commenting on cases he hasn’t investigated properly, but offers: “An action is not a breach of certain privacy principles if the council believes, on reasonable grounds, that that action is necessary for the maintenance of the law.”

Day admits he shouldn’t have used the park – he’s not disabled.

He maintains he used it that day to protect his busking daughter from the unwanted attention of an “aggressive
and drunk” young man.

On Tuesday, the council waived Day’s $150 fine. But his view’s unchanged: he reckons the system’s sneaky and
underhanded.

david@scene.co.nz