- UK Daily Mail -
The £1,000 security cameras have been placed inside properties but are trained on the streets to gather evidence of anti-social behaviour.
Each device is linked to a laptop computer and accessible online by police and council officials 24 hours a day.
But the trial inside two homes by Croydon council in south London has sparked new fears about invasion of privacy and Britain's ‘surveillance society’.
And critics said the extra surveillance was only needed because police had failed to tackle the problem.
A council spokesman said the cameras would allow the authorities to respond quickly to anti-social behaviour and gather evidence for criminal prosecutions.
He denied they would be used to spy on neighbours and said more cameras could be installed if the pilot proves a success.
But critics say the scheme has echoes of the East German Stasi secret police, which recruited members of the public as spies.
Charles Farrier, of No-CTV, said that the move was ‘a step further in our Big Brother society’.
He said: ‘There is no evidence they act as a deterrent and we should be concentrating on the root problem anyway and working to gel our communities.
Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, warned the cameras would create a 'culture of fear and mistrust'.
He said: 'People accept these cameras into their homes because they are afraid.
'The council might be installing them with the best intentions, but the end result is a culture of fear and mistrust driven by a failure on the part of the borough and the police to have proper law enforcement in this area.
'Better to have real action from the failing authorities than to extend once more our surveillance society.'
A Croydon spokeswoman confirmed that the cameras cannot be seen from the street and refused to say in which areas they had been installed.
Residents taking part did not want their families or locations identified for fear of reprisals.
Images can be viewed on a computer and accessed remotely and the evidence used to take people to court.
The trials have been running for the past week.
But some local residents have backed the idea. Kirenna Chin, 30, said: ‘Louts use my hedge as a bouncy castle and urinate in my front garden. It's very intimidating.
‘It's a fantastic idea to fit hidden CCTV. If they offered me one I would definitely take it.’
Gavin Barwell, Croydon's cabinet member for community safety, said: ‘This is good news for residents.
‘These CCTV kits give us another weapon to fight anti-social behaviour quickly. We'll be working together with the police to put them to best use.’
Croydon has one of London's most advanced CCTV networks.
The control room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there are 77 fixed cameras, a rapid-response mobile unit, and three wireless units.