AMAZON’S video doorbell company is working with police forces to hand out thousands of its devices, it has been reported.
The move to distribute the £89 Ring devices has, however, raised Big Brother fears about the close relationship between a private company and the police.
The internet-enabled doorbells made are triggered by movement and begin recording as someone approaches the front door, with the householder notified via mobile.
The company – reportedly bought by Amazon for $1 billion – and the police said the devices deter intruders and capture evidence that helps bring criminals to justice.
Four forces – Suffolk, Leicestershire, Humberside and Hertfordshire – have been given have been given the devices to pass on to residents, the Sunday Times reports.
Another five have promoted the all-seeing doorbells with money-off vouchers or discount code with others reportedly in talks with Ring.
All 43 forces in England and Wales were asked whether they were working with Ring.
Of the 33 that responded, nearly half had worked with Ring or promoted its products, or were considering doing so.
Suffolk has been provided 1,000 free Ring doorbells and the force’s Detective Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk police defended the partnership with the company.
“This is massively powerful for us. We have had at least four prolific criminals captured as a consequence of Ring doorbells.”
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He added that “having spoken to a number of victims, these devices have provided real reassurance”.
Ring has also reportedly been given the go-ahead to sing a £243,000 sponsorship deal with the Met police to hand out 1,000 video doorbells to crime victims and people living in burglary hotspots.
The force said it was finalising the project and is unable to discuss the details at this stage.
Hannah Couchman, policy expert at the human rights organisation Liberty, described the deal “patently inappropriate”.
She said police could get warrant forcing you to provide the footage in certain circumstances.
“The blurring of the line between law enforcement and private companies is a real concern,” she said.
“Amazon is building a privately run surveillance network. They are turning our front doors into CCTV cameras but without the discussion and public debate you would expect.”
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Griff Ferris, legal officer at Big Brother Watch said the deal was as a “chilling Amazon-sponsored police project to extend the surveillance state onto people’s property” that “must be stopped”.
We are currently finalising the project and are unable to discuss the details of it at this stage.
The California-based Ring said its technology had led to “amazing results” and that it was “proud” to work with British police.
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