Bylaw staff pitched an almost $1-million, 18-month experiment last year that would have used garbage spies, unmarked vans and high-tech cameras to catch late-night litterers in the act.
But the price of the sanctioned espionage, which included six new enforcement officers, prompted councillors to ask for cheaper options.
The new $225,000 plan cuts the number of cameras and unmarked vans and replaces six $50,000- to $60,000-a-year bylaw enforcement officers with four part-time students.
It’s a compromise — and not a sure bet to succeed, admitted bylaw services director Marty Hazell.
“It’s not as costly, but it’s not as effective, either,” said Hazell after the new plans got the thumbs-up at general issues committee Wednesday. “They can collect evidence, they can rip open garbage bags … but they can’t, obviously, lay a charge.”
Hazell said the students will stake out illegal dumping “hot spots” identified by bylaw officers and councillors in each ward. Any evidence they collect, on camera, by watching or digging through dumped refuse will be turned over to city enforcement staff.
Is this the beginning stages of the “green police” in Hamilton?
I have been watching the green movements in the United States push the idea of student spies for years now. Here is just two of many examples.
David Uzell, a professor of environmental psychology at the University of Surrey in England, recalls attending an educational conference a few years ago where ‘everyone was absolutely convinced’ that pester power was ‘the answer’ to the problem of climate change (4). Uzell’s own research has focused on what he calls ‘intergenerational learning through the transference of personal experience typically from the child to the parent/other adults/home’ (5). This casual reference to the transference of experience from child to parent illustrates the normalisation of socialisation-in-reverse. In the US, environmental education in schools has, for more than a decade, been systematically providing children with authority over certain adults. The New York Times reports that ‘eco-kids’ devoted to green values ‘try to hold their parents accountable at home’, and notes that adults become defensive under the ‘watchful eye of the pint-sized eco-police’ (6). School districts across the US have sought to capitalise on the idealism of ‘eco-kids’ by integrating environmental values into almost every school subject.
Paying Kids To Spy On YOU!
China also uses student spies.
In order to create a “Safe and Peaceful University” the Xi’an University of Technology, in Shanxi Province, turned one in ten students into informants.
The student informant and spy system is strong in China, according to recent documents and reports.
“Chinese educators and Communist Party officials are expanding the Student Informant System to a growing number of Chinese universities, colleges, vocational institutes, and lower level schools.
Just think about this for one second. Our city is hiring students to rummage through garbage, trying to find a name or address in it. So they can fine you. This is a very slippery slope, and if we continue down it. Expect nothing less than eco fascism!