Hong Kong to install IP cameras to combat illegal dumping

According to an announcement made by the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) in Hong Kong will progressively extend the scheme on installation of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras to combat illegal dumping.

The press release stated that the FEHD will install IP camera at “illegal refuse deposit blackspots” in all districts starting from 6 June to combat illegal deposits of refuse and improve environmental hygiene.  

 A spokesman for the FEHD said the Department FEHD launched a six-month pilot scheme on installation of IP cameras at six refuse deposit blackspots in Central and Western, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long districts in late December 2016. The pilot scheme was said to have effectively curbed illegal dumping through targeted surveillance and enforcement actions.    In view of these encouraging results, the FEHD, after consulting all District Councils, will extend the scheme to cover about 80 refuse deposit blackspots in the territory for a trial period of one year. The scheme will be reviewed one year after implementation. 

When the scheme commences next week, IP cameras installed at 46 blackspots in various districts will be ready for use and installation work at the remaining blackspots will be conducted progressively.

“FEHD officers will closely monitor the targeted blackspots and suitably adjust its action plans in light of actual circumstances, including the change of IP camera locations in a timely manner, so as to enhance the effectiveness of enforcement actions,” said the spokesman.

Strict compliance with privacy laws 

The press release the FEHD is implementing the arrangements in accordance with the Guidance on CCTV Surveillance and Use of Drones issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, including posting notices in the areas covered by the IP cameras.

According to the Guidance of CCTV Surveillance and Use of Drones, when installing a CCTV system, the data use should ensure that:

(1)    The cameras are not installed in places where people are expected to enjoy privacy;

(2)    The CCTV system is protected from vandalism or unlawful access;

(3)    The people affected are explicitly informed that they are under CCTV surveillance, the purpose of surveillance and the mean to raise an enquiry;

(4)    The personal data collected by the CCTV system is deleted as soon as practicable when the purpose of the surveillance is completed, and

(5)    The effectiveness of the safeguards and procedures for the CCTV system is regularly reviewed.

In addition, the Department has formulated clear operational guidelines, and requires staff to strictly comply with the provisions on the manner of collecting personal data under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486) and to handle privacy matters properly.

The disclosure of images captured is restricted to the extent necessary for legal action to be taken. Should no prosecution be instituted against irregularities within six months, the images so captured will be deleted.

Multi-pronged approach to combat illegal dumping

The spokesman also stressed that the FEHD would continue to combat illegal refuse deposits in a multi-pronged manner. Members of the public are urged to observe the laws and be civic-minded. They should deposit refuse properly or may be prosecuted. 

Since mid-2017, the Department has set up six dedicated enforcement teams to step up enforcement actions against various public cleanliness offences.   The full list of the installation locations of the IP cameras can be found here.

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