Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/30/streatham_drugs_robot_robbery_cctv_call/

Touchscreen robo-pharmacist calls for more CCTV snooping

Panopticon vs smash'n'grab smellies blagburst

By Lewis Page

Posted in Law, 30th October 2008 10:14 GMT

A Streatham pharmacist has called for help from the surveillance state, after robberies compelled him to shutter his showcase touchscreen window and automated prescription-filling robot display.

Nizam Ali, owner of the Streatham Pharmacy, was proud of his nifty shop-window touchscreen service, which passers by could use to research health problems and treatments. The pharmacy window also offered further 24-7 techy loveliness in the form of Ali's robotic prescription-filling machine, "Matilda", toiling ceaselessly through the night preparing drugs for the good citizens of southwest London.

"I had hoped to put Streatham on the map with this kind of technology, which you usually only see in the centre of London," said Ali, quoted by the Streatham Guardian.

But local villains have put an end to the tech-fancying druggist's policy of leaving his machinery open to public view through the night. Two smash-and-grab robberies earlier this month have led Ali's insurers, seconded by local cops, to insist that he use steel shutters when closing up.

"I'm angry and disappointed," says Ali. "I put this screen in the window to try and do something that would be really helpful for the community.

"I wanted people to be able to use it 24 hours a day but because of these criminals that may not be possible."

The touchscreen and Matilda are still intact, as the robbers reportedly passed them by in favour of a rich haul of ladies' smellies. According to the Guardian, the aromophile miscreants "made off with thousands of pounds in perfume".

The battling businessman plainly doesn't believe that crime is the victim's fault, and seems to expect more from the police than a suggestion that he should cower behind ugly barricades. In particular he expects the famously omniscient government surveillance panopticon of which we hear so much to get off its bottom and do some snooping.

"Covering up [with steel shutters] because of crime risk cannot be good," he said, expressing his hope that Lambeth Council might extend its all-seeing CCTV eye to cover his shopfront. For now he has installed a camera himself. ®