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Sunday, 9 February 2014

CCTV to be installed in pantries this week

Sadly, I receive many complaints about food being stolen from the pantry refrigerators. A very small minority of residents are responsible for this, I know, but I still find it quite extraordinary and very disappointing that adults at some of the best higher education institutions in the world engage in such petty theft.
We already have one tested, effective method for detecting food thieves. But its efficacy depends upon the technique being kept secret, and it is very time-consuming for staff, so we cannot operate that method all the time. That is why, from this week, we will be placing mobile CCTV cameras in the pantries. Some cameras will be hidden; others will be more visible as a deterrent. Not every pantry will be monitored all the time: we will rotate the cameras between different places.
Anyone who is caught stealing food will be subject to disciplinary action.
I am very disappointed that it has proven necessary to take this step. I have argued many times against installing CCTV in common rooms, pantries, and the bar because I very much dislike infringing your privacy in this way. But the number of complaints recently has made it plain that we simply must do something more.
Ideally, we shall not catch anyone stealing food: much better that those responsible simply stop doing it! For sometimes, your fellow residents keep food in the fridge because they are unwell and can only muster an appetite for certain foods, or because they have special dietary requirements. They might have to go hungry if someone else takes their food, whether we catch the thief or not. And whatever the reason for having food in the refrigerators, it is really upsetting (and can be expensive) to find it stolen by someone else.
So please only take food or drink from the fridge if you bought it.
I thought it important to write to you about our new CCTV initiative because you may wish to dress or behave differently when using the pantries if you know you may be being recorded. We have ensured that clear signs are displayed to remind you that CCTV may be in operation.
As always, come to an open office session ( or write to me if you have any concerns or if anything is not clear.