Council dogged by voyeurs…

WHEN the Belfast Telegraph reported recently (not online) that Tardree Forest near Antrim was being promoted on the internet as *ahem* “a prime location for open-air sex and voyeurism”, local councillor and moral guardian of the people Adrian Watson was eager to explain how the Council had placed hidden cameras in the area to catch the “perverts”. However, Watson might have let something slip when he added that “if someone is up to something at Tardree on Saturday night, we’ll be watching it at the council on Monday morning, all in high-resolution video.” Voyeurs watching errr… voyeurs? And probably “in committee” too – disgusting! (Full story below)From the Tele, a couple of weeks ago:

WEBSITES around the world are promoting a top Ulster beauty spot as a prime location for open-air sex and voyeurism.

A concerned resident living near Tardree Forest on the outskirts of Antrim last night expressed her disgust at the
“constant stream” of cars pulling into the area before their occupants disappear into the forested area.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, claimed the activity was “obviously organised”. Incredibly, as many as 1,000 websites, based in both the UK and the US, are promoting Tardree as one of the foremost locations for voyeuristic ‘swingers’ in Ireland.

Many of the sites claim that visitors to the forest will be “guaranteed action” but warn of the possible presence of police.

Antrim councillor Trevor Clarke says police need to take firm action against what he called “this immoral behaviour”.

“I think that if Tardree is known quite openly as an area for this sort of behaviour, then the police need to be doing something about it,” he said.

“As the summer comes and keep fit becomes more popular, there will be people wanting to use it for the right reasons.

“If there are people who want to expose themselves and whatever other activities they get up to, they should do it in their own home. It’s not the sort of thing you want young people seeing.”

The DUP representative wants the websites which promote Tardree as a swingers’ paradise to be banned.

Mr Clarke called on local people to report any suspicious behaviour at the site to police.

Ulster Unionist councillor Adrian Watson described the people engaged in the activity as “perverts” and said that they
should be “publicly humiliated”.

He said that anyone going to Tardree should do so “at their peril”. He said: “If this is still going on, I am delighted to give those involved a warning that there are hidden cameras in the area.

“This is well known as one of the hot-spots for illegal behaviour, whether it is dumping animal carcasses or these per
verts doing whatever it is they do.

“But if someone is up to something at Tardree on Saturday night, we’ll be watching it at the council on Monday morning, all in high-resolution video.

“And if we at the council can’t prosecute, we’ll be quite happy to pass the tapes on to the police demanding that the full force of the law is taken against them.”

A police spokesman said they became aware of the problem last summer.

He said: “We carried out surveillance operations in response and have managed to reduce the number of complaints.

“However, we are still monitoring the situation.”

  • The proximity of animal carcasses could make for a very unsatisfactory night’s dogging.

  • Mark

    The council is not allowed to covertly film. Any CCTV system must have warnings posted in the area. Councillors would also be acting illegally by general viewing of any material gathered.

    This was a problem flagged as CCTV started to spread, those monitoring the material would not do so within the strict remits of the law. As councillors are not those with enforcement responsibility any viewing of this material could only be viewed as illegal voyeurism.

  • PeterBrown

    Not sure that that is strictly true Mark – any authority for saying that?

  • Cormac

    If you get caught, just say you were looking for a sports massage (ok, three posts and nobody mentioned this yet. Had to get it out of the way, please return to the serious commenting 🙂

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Moral guardians, you can’t beat them. A case of watching the tapes a couple of times to confirm how unsuitable they are for public gaze.

  • Mark

    PeterBrown,

    Sources are the Data Protection Act and the ECHR.

    Councillors, unless properly registered with the commissioner, viewing this material are breaking the law.

  • missfitz

    Mark, are you sure that doesnt apply for storing or using the material? There are certainly restrictions on filming or using CCTV, but this mainly becomes an issue when using material for conviction, as far as I was aware.

    Another thing, that site is not for the faint hearted…….

  • Daugavas

    Off topic but related to Antrim council…. I notice from the link that 2 of the SDLP councillors elected in 2005 are now independents. Anyone know the story behind that? Local row in the SDLP group?

  • James St John Smythe

    I should point out that this story was originally a Conor Spackman exclusive in the Antrim Guardian and was subsequently used by the Belfast Telegraph.
    Oran Keenan resigned from the SDLP last month after the party fined him for an illegal leaflet drop in the local councils last year. Bobby Loughran, the other independent, re-designated in the autumn – he is close to former MLA Donovan McClelland who has fallen out with just about every SDLP rep in South Antrim.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    James St John Smythe

    I wasn’t aware that this was an Antrim Guardian story, so credit where it’s due. If Conor (or Liam or Jeremy!) were to find out if councillors viewing these sex tapes is illegal, I’d love to read the good councillor’s response to that!

    Peter Brown

    If you’re the Ballymena councillor of the same name, would you be able to supply us with a legal position on how views recorded material which is potential evidence? IIRC, Ballymena council has successfully been using hidden cameras to catch illegal dumping round Portglenone – was there not a recent case I think.