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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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Worked for me
By AlvinCool on 9/24/2007 9:01:45 AM , Rating: 3
Hey I live in my little world. And in my world I put cameras around my house and they are quite visible. I live in a rural neighborhood and we all have items on our carports and garages. Nine months ago almost every house around mine got hit. Mostly chainsaws, toolboxes etc... For me that would have been a hefty sum to replace. Not one item taken off my carport. But if those cameras were everywhere, frankly mine wouldn't have mattered

RE: Worked for me
By psychobriggsy on 9/24/2007 9:22:12 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, the presence of CCTV relocates crime to areas without CCTV, unless the criminal is too drunk or too stupid to realise this. In theory it would reduce spur-of-the-moment crimes like pickpocketing, but people won't know where they've been pickpocketed exactly, it's very difficult to track someone through multiple CCTV feeds after the fact to look for a pickpocket and thus the CCTV won't be used for that purpose.

The worst of it is still to come. It is inevitable that by tying CCTV with face recognition systems and databases, eventually everybody's public movements will be tracked and stored. Couple that with a half-assed government police system and if you were unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of a terrorist then you'll be hauled in regardless of your innocence. 90 days internment because police intelligence has been replaced by a computer system.

Quite clearly there need to be laws regarding what CCTV and similar systems can be used for - no tracking of the public, and a judicial order required to track certain people with good reasons why. Recordings should be deleted after a certain time unless a crime was committed in them.

RE: Worked for me
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 9:55:14 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about that. When I'm in London I forget the cameras are there after the first day. Not exactly a deterrent.

CCTV isn't simply recording for future review. There are full-time workers that watch a set of screens for any suspicious activity. One of my Scottish friends said that if you wave at a camera and the person is watching you, they'll wave back by moving the camera up and down.

At least in the U.S. you can't be held for 90 days without being charged with a crime. I think it's more like 48 hours.

Face recognition software would be fantastic. You see a crime being committed. You say "computer, who is that?" and the computer matches the face with its records and returns "whodunnit".

As with most privacy issues, if you aren't doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about. Nothing is private when you're walking down the street.

RE: Worked for me
By TomZ on 9/24/2007 10:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about that. When I'm in London I forget the cameras are there after the first day. Not exactly a deterrent.

Well you're probably also not a criminal. I can guarantee that the criminals in that area don't forget about the cameras.

What they really need are RFID chips implanted in all citizens so the videos can readily identify all the citizens and thier movements put into a massive database. After all, if you're not a criminal, you should have no problem with that, right? Like you said in another post, if you're on the street you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Sound like a good plan?

RE: Worked for me
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 11:15:05 AM , Rating: 2
If the RFIDs were only active when I was outside and if they didn't track your movements unless they had a good reason (i.e. they have to get a warrant), then no, I wouldn't mind it at all.

If I'm in public, I have no privacy. Even if I think no one's around, someone could be looking out their window at me. An airplane could be flying overhead with a camera. My point is that a reasonable expectation when I'm outside is low to no privacy.

RE: Worked for me
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 11:15:35 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, and just to follow up, they wouldn't need RFIDs. Just use the GPS in cell phones.

RE: Worked for me
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2007 11:18:47 AM , Rating: 2
Face recognition software would be fantastic. You see a crime being committed. You say "computer, who is that?" and the computer matches the face with its records and returns "whodunnit".

Exactly. But at least here in the US, privacy groups will complain that .0000001% of the time it'll be used to track someone who hasn't done anything wrong. So it'll likely never happen.

Me personally I'm for the system that, if face recognition technology was used, and someone who's face was clearly captured and couldn't be identified in a national database, that person would be investigated.

Now normally it would just amount to someone's appearance changing over time (which is why I'm also for being required to get a new picture taken every 5 years at least) but for cases like illegal immigrants, we could easily see where they are. That way state governments can't use the excuse of "we can't find them to deport them" as an excuse.

RE: Worked for me
By Spivonious on 9/24/2007 11:24:42 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about tracking unknowns, as that could easily be abused.

We do get photos updated regularly: drivers licenses.

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