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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 Martin Blank on 9/24/2007 9:51:55 AM , Rating: 5
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 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.

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