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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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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.


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