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CCTV image of a pickpocket  (Source: Evening Standard)
The use of CCTVs continues to be a hot political debate in the U.K.

The city of London has more than 10,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras deployed around the city, but the use of the controversial technology does not help solve crime, according to several local politicians.

All cameras installed in London cost taxpayers an estimated £200 million -- approximately $400M USD -- with politicians arguing the city has to re-evaluate the way they are used.  According to research provided by the British Liberal Democrats political party, the city districts with the most CCTV cameras also have the worst rates of solved crimes.

"Our figures show that there is no link between a high number of CCTV cameras and a better crime clear-up rate," said Dee Doocey, Liberal Democrats spokesperson.  "Boroughs with thousands of CCTV cameras are no better at doing so than those which have a few dozen."

Numbers provided by Doocey indicate only one in five crimes are solved in all London boroughs.

London's Scotland Yard is implementing several new procedures to try to improve the effectiveness of the 10,000 CCTVs in place in all 32 London boroughs.  

"Although CCTV has its place, it is not the only solution in preventing or detecting crime."

The United Kingdom currently leads the rest of Europe in number of CCTVs in use, with more than one million already in use.  The technology has drawn a lot of criticism from some politicians and privacy advocates in the U.K.

A quick Google News search for "CCTV" will indicate a number of British news stories that show how CCTV evidence is being used in criminal cases against suspects.  For example, CCTV several school children were caught brandishing an AK-47 on a train station platform.  The CCTV cameras also helped police identify London tube-train bombing suspects after the July 7, 2005 attack.


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Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Christopher1 on 9/24/2007 7:59:59 AM , Rating: 5
Is this really a surprise to anyone? I have known for a long time that surveillance cameras do not keep people from committing 'crimes', real and by lawbooks, they just help LEA's catch the people who commit the crimes.




RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Delegator on 9/24/2007 8:09:06 AM , Rating: 5
The headline is misleading, and the conclusion is a bit of a surprise. The story actually talks about the role of CCTV cameras in solving crimes, not in preventing them. I think it's a truism that people forget about cameras after a while; that's one explanation for why public figures do such stupid things so often. But, I'd have thought it reasonable to suppose that having video records of crimes would help to get them solved. Apparently that's not the case.

It will be interesting to see what is done with this information. It often seems more difficult for government to stop doing something that is ineffective but costly, than to start doing something that actually works.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2007 8:35:54 AM , Rating: 1
My attitude on it is its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

As far as privacy goes, you're in public. See how that works? Privacy....public.....the two are not synonymous. You're entitled to privacy in your own home of course. You're not entitled to it walking down the street.

Here in the US privacy groups use it to stop things like cameras that catch people who run red lights from going up. Because you should be entitled to running a red light provided a cop doesn't see you. How dare they want to catch you for doing something that kills or severely injures so many each year.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Delegator on 9/24/2007 8:41:50 AM , Rating: 5
Well, that's a fundamental philosophical disagreement about the role of government. I personally believe that it is not good to have government doing things just because it can. It's wasteful and it opens up possibilities for both unintended consequences and abuse.

Take, for example, the EZ-Pass toll systems common in the eastern US. They're a wonderful technology and can help move traffic along. But, they can also be used to determine where a particular car traveled, and when. This might be useful in a criminal case, but now those records are being increasingly used in civil cases such as divorce proceedings. You may think that's good, but I personally do not. We have too long a history of government abuse of information for me to believe that it's better to have it and not use it -- it will always be used by somebody.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2007 8:48:34 AM , Rating: 1
So its not good that a cheating wife or husband is being caught in the act? Explain that to me please. And its bad that say the toll booths could be used to track a murderer or robber as he makes his getaway? Or to prove that a suspected murderer was not where he/she claimed to be?

The same could be said of credit cards since its quite easy to track a persons credit card usage. Are those evil too? And cell phones? How about them?


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 9:11:47 AM , Rating: 5
> "So its not good that a cheating wife or husband is being caught in the act? "

I don't believe its a particularly good idea the government assist in catching people in acts that are legal, whether or not they're morally questionable.

Right now, EZ Pass is a voluntary system, so I don't see a problem with it monitoring motorists. But the DOT has big plans for it and, should electric cars become a reality, I can easily see it one day expanded to a nationwide system for collecting taxes on all major roads (since the gasoline tax would no longer exist).

If that happens, the system will be a de facto requirement for travel in the US, whether or not de jure participation is required.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 9:45:45 AM , Rating: 2
And at that time, if you don't like it, you can either ride a bike, take the bus, walk, or move to another country. It's called freedom.

And about your conspiracy theory, the toll workers union would never let the state DOT get rid of their jobs.


By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 10:01:57 AM , Rating: 5
Lol, how is expressing the possibility of nationwide expansion of a successful program a "conspiracy theory"? Britain has already mandated an EZ-pass like transponder in all registered vehicles. Do you honestly believe the US couldn't possibly ever institute a similar program?

By the way, technology has caused many thousands of unions to become defunct. Or have you seen any members of United Candle Dippers 104 lately?


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Zoomer on 9/24/2007 4:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
Or buy a helicopter. No more lousy roads for ya!


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By GaryJohnson on 9/24/2007 8:55:32 PM , Rating: 2
Those, and other aircraft, have flight data recorders right?


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By wordsworm on 9/26/2007 5:20:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Those, and other aircraft, have flight data recorders right?
Don't airplanes and helicopters need to call in their estimated flights before they take off? Can you imagine a world where, before you go for a drive, you have to make a log entry?

I think it would be interesting if the average Joe had access to the same cameras. One could keep an eye on one's own children, not to mention spouse, to make sure they're not doing anything they shouldn't.

What they need to do is attach something to the camera, like a gun, so that they can shoot the criminals. It would save a lot of money: courts, prisons, and police, not to mention that reoffending would be impossible! Who collects the bodies? Easy! The bodies could be collected by the hospitals so that they can harvest the organs.

Woot! Sounds like a dystopia to me!


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Lord 666 on 9/24/2007 9:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
A usage tax for interstates and parkways would be more fair for people who do not drive on them at all vs. gasoline tax.

However, EZ Pass could be expanded to GPS enabled transponders to calculate distance driven on non-toll roads and time spent in traffic to calculate actual taxation. This taxation could then tied into the yearly IRS filing for business mileage.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Verran on 9/24/2007 8:45:17 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
My attitude on it is its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Try telling that to the taxpayers who coughed up the $400M in installation costs.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Martin Blank on 9/24/2007 9:51:55 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
My attitude on it is its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

New York City is looking to put in one hundred cameras at a cost of $90 million, and then pay $8 million per year to operate. Over ten years, that's $170 million. For that cost, the city could pay for about 120 additional slots for police officers, placing them in high-crime areas to assist in not only deterring crime, but also in things that cameras cannot do, like getting to know the community or canvassing locals after a crime.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 10:28:42 AM , Rating: 3
> "New York City is looking to put in one hundred cameras at a cost of $90 million"

I'd be curious to know why CCTV cameras cost nearly $1M each.

Certainly if enough graft/bureaucratic overhead/whatever is involved, the costs can be so high as to make any program infeasible. That hardly proves the concept itself is unsound though.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By CSMR on 9/24/2007 11:46:32 AM , Rating: 2
hear hear


By BladeVenom on 9/24/2007 12:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
Buying votes is expensive.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Tiamat on 9/24/2007 10:59:47 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I think paying for more cop patrols in rough areas rather than CCTV would prevent crime more effectively. Buying cameras is not enough when there is nobody to watch it in real time, and dispatch cops accordingly (of course this could be done, but with tons of overhead costs). Although, that is my naive opinion, I haven't done any serious research on crime and prevention to really understand how it works.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Lord 666 on 9/24/2007 9:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
The NYPD is currently around 35,000 strong. Another 120 police officers would not put a dent in crime. The 75th has 450 sworn assigned to it (largest in any department in NYC), but hasn't made that much difference in East New York. The East New York area of Brooklyn also has the NYPD cameras, but that has not reduced crime either.

A better use of the millions of dollars is re-investing the money into the neighborhoods. Neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Harlem are excellent examples of how areas can be turned around with re-investing into the community.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Noya on 9/24/2007 11:57:35 AM , Rating: 2
Is this guy a government shill?

Nearly every post of his that I've read blindly supports everything the "authorities" want to approve or claim as "good for the people". But with a screen name like that and his openly staunch, Republican views I suppose I should expect as much.


By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 12:12:06 PM , Rating: 4
Instead of attacking the poster personally, why not craft a logical argument as to why you disagree with his views? You'll probably go a lot further with that approach.


By theapparition on 9/24/2007 2:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But with a screen name like that and his openly staunch, Republican views I suppose I should expect as much.

If his screen name was GOPCadillac, maybe I could agree.
But FITCamaro? Fail to see how you link that to a conservative agenda.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Grast on 9/24/2007 1:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
Camaro,

You are forgetting one important portion of the Bill of Rights. The 4th Amendment: Protection from unreasonable search and seizure. I believe that placing cameras in the public area is a violation of my right to privacy. The reason is simple. The government does not have a right to monitor, track, or otherwise impune on my freedoms without probable cause and a warrant from a judge. The act of installing a camera in a public space is an illegal search. The govenment is in reality collecting data (search) just incase a crime is committed. That is an illegal search. Whether we like it or not. Citizens have the right to break the law. We are all innocent until proven guilty. The government does not have my permission to film me or more importantly spend my tax dollars on a system which servers no purpose but track its own citizens.

The only reason traffic cameras have passed constitutionality is because it has been demeed that driving a car is a privledge and that your rights in regards to privacy do not apply while driving a vehicle. When you drive a car, you are giving away a lot of your natural rights as an American.

Regardless, when a government starts monitoring its citizens it is the first step in losing all of your rights.

Later...


By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 2:13:37 PM , Rating: 2
> "The act of installing a camera in a public space is an illegal search"

How is this any different than a policeman watching you in that same public space? And what exactly is being searched? The Supreme Court has long ruled that the Fourth Amendment is applicable only when a person's expectation of privacy is being violated. A search of something hidden in your clothes is a violation...recording whats plainly visible to the public eye, however, is not.

> "We are all innocent until proven guilty"

Which is why any person seen committing a crime on these cameras would still have the right to a trial by jury.

> "when a government starts monitoring its citizens it is the first step in losing all of your rights."

That's an excellent example of the "slippery slope" logical fallacy, but it doesn't really further the debate.


By smitty3268 on 9/24/2007 11:34:57 AM , Rating: 2
I'm also very surprised. I'm guessing that while these cameras are good at confirming you've got the right guy, there aren't enough to completely track where the criminal goes. So the police still have to figure out who the guy is from nothing more than a blurry face and find him.

So it could be useful in some circumstances, but not much use in random robberies on the street of a major city.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Misty Dingos on 9/24/2007 8:36:13 AM , Rating: 5
Honestly did you read the article? One of the surprises in the study is that the cameras did not lead to an increase in convictions. I am not trying to beat on you for your post. If the cameras were helping the police catch more of the offenders there would be a corresponding increase in convictions. The study indicates that isn't happening. So the cameras are not doing what they were intended to do.

What I have to ask is how many police could have been hire and trained with 200,000,000 pounds (400 million dollars). You know the guys that drive around your neighborhoods and look for people breaking the law? My guess is that quite a few. Probably enough to actually reduce crime. Cops not cameras, simple and effective.

So England, London in particular, has engaged in this grand social experiment and the net result is that the people of London have lost more privacy and gained nothing. No more secure than they were before the first camera went up. Perhaps less. Please don’t even go down the road of “The cameras don’t bother people who aren’t breaking the law.”. That is a load of crap. All that has been encouraged is government voyeurism.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2007 8:44:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Please don’t even go down the road of “The cameras don’t bother people who aren’t breaking the law.”. That is a load of crap. All that has been encouraged is government voyeurism.


Yes and cell phones are a grand conspiracy to keep track of all of us because they have GPS technology in them.

Yes, cameras don't affect those of us who aren't breaking the law. Do you stare at every camera you walk by just seething at how much your privacy is being invaded? Well, you probably do. But the majority of people don't.

You'll call them unnecessary until you're the one being robbed at gunpoint and want the thief caught. Having the camera's means theres at least a slightly higher chance they can positively ID the guy. Since you probably won't be able to.

And yes while more actual cops are good too, they can't be everywhere regardless of how many there are.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Misty Dingos on 9/24/2007 9:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
Just a clarification here. If I were robbed at gunpoint the police will have to bring a body bag to the crime scene. I live in the USA and have CCW permit. A person that tries to rob me is taking very good chance at finding out what the inside of the morgue looks like. Unlike the UK the USA allows people to defend themselves. I can not think of a more basic human right than the right of self defense and it is amazing to me that an intelligent and thinking people would allow that right to be stripped from them.

Am I a raving looney about privacy? No. I just find that trying to justify an ever increasing governmental surveillance of private life unjustifiable. For any reason. Have the cameras in London helped solve some crimes, I am sure they have. Have they prevented any crimes, I am willing to bet not a one. Criminals are criminals because they break the law. Placing cameras in the public space only produces criminals concerned with covering their faces. Oh and public lulled into a false sense of security.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 9:48:49 AM , Rating: 2
So if someone tried to pickpocket you, you'd kill them? That makes me scared to walk down the street. What if I bumped into in a way that made it seem like I was trying to rob you? "The police would have to bring a body bag."

Let the police do their job and stop being some sort of vigilante.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By TomZ on 9/24/2007 9:56:23 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously you have no experience with the police. The chances of them helping you out when you are being robbed is about 1 in 100000. They just show up later to write up the report.


By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 10:18:38 AM , Rating: 4
Exactly. In many major cities, crimes like home burglary, auto theft, pickpocketing, etc, aren't even investigated unless there's a violence involved, or the victim knows the perpetrator personally and therefore gives the police an open-and-shut case.


By rdeegvainl on 9/24/2007 10:52:44 AM , Rating: 2
robbed at gunpoint and pickpocket are 2 completely different events, I don't understand how you confused them unless you did so deliberately to make the poster sound irrational.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By JustTom on 9/24/2007 11:12:19 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
If I were robbed at gunpoint the police will have to bring a body bag to the crime scene.


He said robbed at gunpoint, so unless you bump into him and wave a gun in his face you should be fine.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 11:27:32 AM , Rating: 2
lol, yeah I missed that part. But that just makes it worse. The guy already has his gun out. You make a move for yours and you get shot in the head.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By rdeegvainl on 9/24/2007 11:53:11 AM , Rating: 3
or you make a move for your "wallet" like they ask.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 3:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think a handgun fits in my back pocket.


By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 3:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I know someone who keeps a small 25 cal handgun inside his wallet. The wallet is even constructed so he's able to fire the gun without removing it.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2007 11:10:03 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree in your right to defend yourself (I too would shoot the guy if I carried a gun) but very few people legally carry a concealed firearm. My point was a statement that represents the majority of the population.

And its not legal in every state to shoot the person robbing you. Yes its retarded, but its still fact. Liberals have the view that you shouldn't fight back against attackers. You know, because its not their fault they are the way they are.

Me personally, if I have a gun available and someone attacks me, I attack back until the clip is empty, they go down, or they run away (if they still can).


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By smitty3268 on 9/24/2007 11:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
I think it's morally right that if an attacker isn't threatening your life then you don't have any right to take theirs away. I don't think there's a court in the country that would have a problem with you shooting an attacker who has a gun - that's textbook self-defense. But if they don't have one, then why shoot them? Why not just stick it in their face and call the police to come pick him up? Killing him is a lot more than eye-for-an-eye justice IMHO.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 12:15:13 PM , Rating: 3
> "But if they don't have one, then why shoot them?"

Because it doesn't take a gun to kill someone. If you are being faced by an "attacker" threatening force to compel you to surrender your property, your life is potentially in danger. Whether they have a gun, a knife, a piece of wood, or nothing at all. People have been beaten to death countless times with nothing but fists and feet.


By smitty3268 on 9/24/2007 12:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Like I said, if your life is genuinely in danger, then I don't see a problem. That's self defense and no one has a problem with it. I'm just saying that if you are in no danger at all, it seems bad (to me) to kill someone. I know others feel differently.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By theapparition on 9/24/2007 3:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
Soooooo.....
Let's go with that argument. You are robbed or physically assaulted and you exercise deadly force. Nothing wrong with that, under the proper circumstances.

Now, with political and cultural climates, you never know how that will be viewed. Suppose the DA decides to then prosecute you for murder. You have no proof that the assailant tried to rob you, as far as the state's concerned, you very well may have been robbing him. Only thing to go on is your word. You may spend the rest of your life in a cell, trying to convice everyone it was self-defense. Pretty common defense in murder trials. Not pretty.

Or would you rather have a camera, that captured the event and would prove your side of the story? I know my answer, I'd like to hear yours.


By Misty Dingos on 9/24/2007 4:10:53 PM , Rating: 2
With any case of self defense (that ends in death or injury) comes the reality that you can, and in some cases should be, prosecuted for a crime.

Carrying a weapon for self defense is not a trivial or knee jerk reaction. Even if you don't face prosecution for the act it self you may be sued civilly by interested parties. Family members of the dearly departed criminal spring to mind. All the while you are making it possible for a lawyer’s kid to go to a better college. Not a win, win situation. But better than the alternative of taking a dirt nap.

These are the realities. And I am aware of them. Which is why, even though I carry a gun, you should never shoot someone who is not a threat to you or someone in you care.

In my case that means if the guy is 5'2" and has a stick I might pull the gun to make him go away but the chances of me pulling the trigger are vanishingly small. If the guy is drooling at the mouth and has a baseball bat I am going to empty the magazine into him.

Camera or no camera I can not base my decision to use self defense on them. And I still think that with very few exceptions I would rather pay for a policeman rather than a camera.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By masher2 (blog) on 9/24/2007 9:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
> "One of the surprises in the study is that the cameras did not lead to an increase in convictions. "

But the study did not say that. It simply found the unsuprising result that police tend to choose areas with unsolved crime rates as the most likely places to install cameras.

There have been other (far less flawed) studies on the effects of CCTV monitoring on crime rates. In general, areas that simply hung a few cameras up and expected their mere presence to reduce crime were disapointed. Areas which used them as part of an integrated program, with continual human-based monitoring and follow-up enforcement, saw much better results.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By TomZ on 9/24/2007 10:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But the study did not say that. It simply found the unsuprising result that police tend to choose areas with unsolved crime rates as the most likely places to install cameras.

Exactly, since what would be the point of putting up cameras in the low-crime areas.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By sxr7171 on 9/24/2007 11:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
Look for people breaking the law? Yeah right. Maybe if a crime were being committed at Dunkin Donuts. It is a myth that police actually catch acts in progress leave alone come close to stopping a crime. They only serve to collect evidence after the fact. Well that is if the crime isn't speeding or running a red light, in which case they will catch the criminal while the crime is being committed.


RE: Is this a surprise to anyone?
By euclidean on 9/24/2007 10:21:45 AM , Rating: 3
I guess they need to re-hire Sherlock Holmes then right?...lol


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