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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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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.


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