Thermal Spies in the Skies Over Slough Suburbs
I am not surprised that it has begun to happen: twenty first century thermal imaging surveillance tactics are being adopted by councils frustrated by those who flout the law.
We are all aware of the growing unrest towards those who treat the tax system and the laws of this land with contempt. In the first case of its kind, in February of this year, Slough Council commissioned aerial thermal imaging shots – at a cost of £24,000 to the taxpayer – in a bid to crack down on the rising numbers of migrant workers thought to be living illegally in sheds or outhouses (many of whom are thought to be in Britain illegally). Is this good value for money?
Heat loss from outbuildings, garages and sheds in the gardens of properties revealed that they were inhabited. Greedy landlords have been ignoring the law by renting out garages, sheds or outbuildings for exorbitant prices without planning permission.
Initial estimations were of 200 illegal dwellings but further analysis of the imaging results has exposed a figure thought to be over 3,000 (some think perhaps as many as 18,000 bodies in beds)! Politicians and councillors alike raged at the “beds in sheds” scandal for a number of reasons: landlords are not paying the correct fees for change of use on bodged dwellings; they are not paying tax on the money they are exhorting; and illegally housed individuals who are using community services are not paying council taxes.
Upon further investigation, although some outbuildings were said to be habitable, officials have found most were unfit as they do not conform to planning laws, fire safety regulations or building controls. Councils, worried at the scale of illegal workers and migrants living in unsuitable accommodation, have offered to re-house those who are here legally – in more suitable housing. More cost, but at least they will be paying taxes! Those here illegally will have to return to their own countries.
For landlords who persist in flouting the law after advice from officials there will be penalties and enforcements, possibly even demolitions.
Slough council will be analysing the results of the thermal imaging in other ways too. Desperate councils are considering more uses for this great technology – read my next blog! Am I pleased? Is this the way of the future? I suspect it is… Thermal imaging, to my delight, might be a benefit to the councils everywhere.
Councils line up – you can buy or rent your cameras here!