UK councils have spent more than £500 million pounds over the last four years installing and operating CCTV cameras.
Big Brother Watches’ Nick Pickles, the campaign director explains:
“There is no credible evidence that more cameras will reduce crime, yet councils have poured enough money into CCTV in just four years that would have put more than four thousand extra police officers on the streets.”
Should we be spending this amount of money on CCTV or should we be focusing on more people power – more officers on the streets. Is the government using CCTV as an easy way out or is it in fact benefiting us by having more surveillance? Plus, who is it actually benefiting? The people, the police, the criminals?
“Despite millions of cameras, Britain’s crime rate is not significantly lower than comparable countries that do not have such a vast surveillance state.”
This story was released a day after British Councils announced they will be spending more money towards CCTV – £79 million pounds to be exact. Explaining that Bristol apparently has less CCTV than many other cities; and so gets £928,000 for 47 cameras as well as £1.3 million for schemes on two housing estates.
However another report by This is Bristol explains how Bristol has more CCTV surveillance than Manchester and Liverpool combined. — So, are there too many cameras? Or not enough?
The Daily Mail explains how Home Office minister John Denham described:
“Knowing that there is an extra set of eyes watching over their communities helps to reassure people that they will be safe.
“It also acts as an important set of eyes for the police, providing valuable evidence where incidents occur.”
As much as CCTV can be used to help beat crime and to help give evidence in court, it is also a tool that can be used to intrude on people’s privacy. Living in a country so overly controlled by CCTV means we need to know and want to know if the data collected is used in an appropriate manner and isn’t being misused. How do we know who to trust?
Do we really need more CCTV cameras? And do they stop or deter crime?
Or are we all so used to seeing them that we carry on with whatever it was we were doing anyway? Perhaps, the fact that most of us believe that CCTV isn’t actually that great quality – if you wear a hood it would be almost impossible to identify you – this is not entirely true. There are many cameras out there that are much higher quality than many of us have seen. As we have seen recently with the BBC Program Burglar in the House, the police force are using CCTV and hidden cameras in various ways to fight against crime – there is a lot more out there than what is in plain sight.
So, this leads us back to the first question… How many cameras do we need and are we protected?