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CCTV camera in front of Big Ben  (Source: BBC News)
System has over 59,000 cameras, solves six crimes per day

Citizens in London are used to the cameras that adorn street corners and other locations around the historic metropolitan area. The cameras are used to monitor citizens and help the police in London to solve crime as well. The cameras are very effective at solving crimes according to the London Metropolitan Police (Met).

BBC News reports that Det. Ch. Insp. Mick Neville, the head of the Met, said that the images the camera captured are treated like fingerprints and DNA evidence. According to the Met, in 2010 the number of suspects that were identified by the camera system went up to 2,512 in 2010 compared to 1,970 identified in 2009.

The increase in the number of suspects identified may have to do with the increasing number of cameras in the city. In 1999, London had a CCTV system with 21,000 cameras installed. However, in 2010, the CCTV system has a total of 59,753 cameras. The Met also says that of all the 2,512 suspects that were caught this year using the camera system, many of them were violent offenders.

According to police, out of that roughly 2,500 captures, four of the suspects were wanted for suspected murder, 23 of them were rapists or sex offenders, and five were described as wanted gunmen.

Neville did say that the modernization and growing complexity of the CCTV system in London had raised some issues though. The system moved from VHS tapes to digital video storage. With the move, getting the captured video takes a specialized officer and takes longer than retrieval did in the VHS days. The Met officer also says that the digital video isn’t kept as long as tapes were.

Neville said, "We get high-quality images that are easily searchable but they are often not held as long. With VHS, people held 31 tapes, one for each day of the month, and it did not require specialist officers to get hold of the stuff. People are now being confronted by computers and hard drives and told to get those images and it is not as easy."

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By aebiv on 12/28/2010 1:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Bah, who needs privacy! I'm sure this system will never be used for evil.

I'm interested in the cost of the system figured per crime too...

RE: Privacy
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 12/28/2010 2:26:08 PM , Rating: 3
It has been long held that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in their likeness, or in their vehicle properties when they are in public - such as walking on the street, or driving. If that were the case, then a hit and run driver could contest the admission of the color, make and model of their car into evidence. Or contest an artist's rendering of them - or a victim's description of them. So no recognized privacy rights are violated by the use of these cameras. In fact, they are more reliable than human witnesses.

The use of enhanced observational equipment, such as someone using binoculars, are only proscribed when they are used to peer into a person's house. Arguably, if you can been seen through a window, then you are in "public" view. But if you can only be seen from a rooftop using binoculars, then that evidence is generally not admissible. I think it is a little late to make a privacy argument against these cameras.

RE: Privacy
By morphologia on 12/28/2010 3:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
Anything can be used for evil, that doesn't make it evil in itself. You could kill someone with a car, or a hammer, or a ballpoint pen, but it's much less of a hassle to just use them for their intended purposes. Likewise, this CCTV system makes crime-fighting much more efficient. More so than having cops stationed on every block of every street, or perhaps perched on rooftops. How much do you think that would cost??

For every self-righteous privacy fanatic worried about ending up in V for Vendetta, there's probably a dozen criminals hoping their acts are not observed. I think it's worth compromising one's "privacy" in public places (a farcical concept anyway) to help catch murderers and rapists before they can melt into the faceless crowd and avoid capture...which would doubtless result in complaints that the cops aren't "doing enough".

These CCTV cameras? That's the cops' way of "doing enough" to fight crime.

RE: Privacy
By Philippine Mango on 12/28/2010 5:07:32 PM , Rating: 4
You've obviously never heard of the adage, "Absolute power corrupts absolute".

RE: Privacy
By JakLee on 12/28/2010 5:37:02 PM , Rating: 1
You've obviously never heard of the adage, "Absolute power corrupts absolute".

No, but I have heard of something similar - "absolute power corrupts absolutely"
I think that was Dr X talking about Dark Pheonix....

RE: Privacy
By FaaR on 12/29/2010 11:56:49 AM , Rating: 1
"I think it's worth compromising one's "privacy" in public places (a farcical concept anyway) to help catch murderers and rapists before they can melt into the faceless crowd and avoid capture..."

Yeah, but how many murderers and rapists did these ALMOST 60 *THOUSAND* cameras catch??? Not very bloody many I'm sure you'll agree!

I clicked on this article after seeing the blurb on Anandtech, thinking the camera system probably caught about as many criminals as it had cameras installed, and thought that was a pretty bad and cost-ineffective ratio, considering it wasn't over the course of a month, or a quarter, but a FULL YEAR.

Imagine my surprise when I read the full piece and find out the criminal to camera ratio is no more than about 0.04:1! Over an entire year!!!

That's pretty fucking atrocious. The brits ought to be livid, and scrap this horrible money-wasting system immediately. I don't see how anyone could argue that this is anything but a device to snoop on people's movements and interactions.

It's certainly NOT intended primarily to catch criminals, or it'd do a better job at it.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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