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One Crime Solved Per 1,000 London CCTV Cameras

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the ready-for-my-closeup-mister-demille dept.

Government 404

SpuriousLogic writes "Only one crime was solved for each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city's surveillance network has claimed. The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals. In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers. David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: 'It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent.' He added: 'CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness. It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security. The Metropolitan Police has been extraordinarily slow to act to deal with the ineffectiveness of CCTV.'"

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Sure, but... (5, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | about 5 years ago | (#29179523)

Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent? I always considered cameras more of a prevention, i.e. only idiots commit crimes in front of cameras.

Obviously, another question is how many crimes simply moved to areas without cameras.

Re:Sure, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179541)

I often commit crimes in front of cameras in places I'm never going to return to again.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | about 5 years ago | (#29179551)

Great point. While I personally don't think that they're much of a deterrent, especially as people grow used to them, it's definitely a valid angle to examine before taking action.

Don't get me wrong - I feel that the CCTVs are a huge breach of privacy and I'd have to have them where I live - but I do think it's unfair just to look at a single statistic and take action based on that.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Informative)

DeadPixels (1391907) | about 5 years ago | (#29179571)

and I'd have to have them where I live

Sorry, I'd *hate* to have them where I live. The paranoia is getting to me.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179621)

To me that's like saying, "I'd hate to have an officer standing on the corner and policing my neighborhood." The purpose of having eyes on patrol is to stop the criminals, or at least apprehend them later so they don't harm any future victims. It doesn't matter if those eyes are organic or electronic. The law gets enforced in both cases, and our human rights protected from those who want to cause us harm.

The only place where you can really expect privacy is inside your home. That's always been true.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | about 5 years ago | (#29179663)

Yes and no. I see a difference between an officer of the law - who should be able to be held accountable for his or her actions - and a recording device, which allows any number of people to monitor the behaviors of countless numbers of pedestrians. To illustrate my meaning, try thinking of an example where an officer observing something would likely not cause as big of an uproar as leaked video footage.

Re:Sure, but... (5, Insightful)

masmullin (1479239) | about 5 years ago | (#29179719)

Yeah CCTV catches every nose pick, every ass scratch, every groin adjustment and potentially offers these images to the world

Re:Sure, but... (2, Interesting)

ParticleGirl (197721) | about 5 years ago | (#29179943)

Yeah CCTV catches every nose pick, every ass scratch, every groin adjustment and potentially offers these images to the world

I personally think that this is a great idea-- make it all public!

 

I think Warren Ellis had a pretty awesome vision in Transmetropolitan [wikipedia.org] when whatever happens in public spaces becomes accessible to anyone, at any time-- truly publicly available, as many of us want "public" data to be.

 

I used to work for a government data archive in the burgeoning days of the internet, and they didn't want to make data downloadable-- even though it had to be legally available to the public!-- because they didn't it want to be THAT public. People who didn't understand it, or people who had malicious intentions would have access to it. But you know what? Public is public is public, and technology keeps on making it easier for more and more people to see those public things. CC:TV footage should stream online, and soon there'll be a brigade of human eyes looking out for criminals (and for ways to exploit other people, and to police the police) through those electronic eyes. When they start putting CCTV in your living room [globalresearch.ca] , I say THEN you worry.

Re:Sure, but... (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179973)

So?

It doesn't seem to bother you when you do it in front of me, and I surreptitiously snap a photo with my cellphone. If you don't want these images leaking, stop picking your nose or grabbing your crotch in front of everybody.

Or just be like Michael J, and don't care.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179865)

>>>Yes and no. I see a difference between an officer of the law - who should be able to be held accountable for his or her actions - and a recording device, which allows any number of people to monitor the behaviors of countless numbers of pedestrians
>>>

By that logic radar to record speeding cars is not allowable. It's just a stupid gadget.

>>an officer observing something would likely not cause as big of an uproar as leaked video footage.

You mean like when a cop used his cellphone to take pictures of a young teen woman whose head was popped-open like a grape after her car slammed into a tollbooth, and then leaked those images to the press? That officer did not act responsibly, so your presumption that banning CCTV cameras would automatically stop these types of leakages is without merit.

And you know, you're not supposed to be having sex in your front yard anyway. You have no reason to expect privacy there, either from video devices, or cops with cellphone cameras. Stay inside. ;-)

The trade-off (5, Insightful)

Noren (605012) | about 5 years ago | (#29179723)

For the price and upkeep of 1,000 CCTV cameras I would expect that one could deploy at least one additional meat-based law inforcement unit complete with two eyes. This creature, that we'll call a 'police officer', might be expected to solve more than one crime per year.

Absolutely I would hate to see the limited government dollars allocated for police protection squandered on inefficient ways such as CCTV.

Re:The trade-off (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179921)

I disagree. Most cops don't solve anything. They show-up after the fact and clean-up the bloody mess, because no single man can cover 1000 different locations, nor can he can work 24 hours a day, or locate a criminal he's never got to see. At least with video cameras you cover a wide area and can rewind the footage to identify the asshole.

Re:The trade-off (5, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | about 5 years ago | (#29180085)

On the other hand when a cop sees someone commit a crime he can arrest him on the spot, all a CCTV camera can do is watch, unless of course the person happens to be wearing something that obscures his face or a headband studded with IR LEDs. In which case your camera is useless. Furthermore you can put a hell of alot more then just 1 cop on the street for the price of a 1000 cameras.

Re:The trade-off (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#29180273)

I think you're either greatly over estimating the cost of a police officer or greatly underestimating the cost of installing, maintaining and monitoring videos. A thousand cameras is going to cost you a pretty substantial sum of money to keep in repair.

On top of that, criminals no where the cameras are pointed, if you spend enough time around them you can spot which way they're pointed without looking too hard. On top of that a police office can be sent to other areas of the city as needed and get information which is completely inaccessible to a camera. And an officer is already there and in these parts ready to respond to anything that might be going on, not just crimes, but medical emergencies and such as well.

Prevention vs. Action (5, Insightful)

GTsquirrel42 (624871) | about 5 years ago | (#29179881)

One huge difference: cameras can't actually apprehend anybody. There are cases upon cases of crimes being commited directly under watch of a camera that are never solved. Whether it's because the perp is wearing a hat or they never return to the city or whatever, were there an actual officer there it could have been stopped then and there: the crime would be prevented AND the perp could be taking directly to gaol, no passing GO. A woman being assaulted and saying "oh, we got it on camera so we /might/ be able to catch the guy" isn't going to feel any better until he's actually caught. Telling her they can't catch him because he was wearing a hat or the camera was turned 5 degrees too far to the left is just pouring salt into the wound.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 5 years ago | (#29179995)

The problem I have with surveillance in general is that I don't trust the decision of who is labeled a "criminal" and what is labeled a "crime" to be sane. Sure, I can walk down the street today, minding my own business, and I know it's not a crime, but can I tomorrow?

I'd rather that anything involving "minding my own business" go unmonitored.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29180017)

It's not an officer, it's some voyeur in a room somewhere... you don't think these jobs are going to attract unsavory people. Most of the time their just using it to look at women (ok maybe this will help my personal freedom).

If were going to have them then at the very least we should have public access to watch the watchers

Re:Sure, but... (2, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | about 5 years ago | (#29180183)

Actually, I would hate to have a police officer standing on the corner. There's no crime near my house, so an officer is not going to improve things. Instead, he's probably going to get bored and spend his time trying to find me guilty of something.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29180201)

To me that's like saying, "I'd hate to have an officer standing on the corner and policing my neighborhood."

There's many people who would agree with your quote.

The thing about community policing is that it can be done well or be done not-so-well. There's a big difference between "Officer Joe", who walks the neighborhood streets, says "Good Morning" to people who he passes, directs lost tourists to the highway, and tries to diffuse confrontation before it starts, and "Officer Tony" ("That's Detective Corleone to you!") who patrols the streets, demands to know where people are going, eyes everyone suspiciously, finds dens of villainous intrigue wherever he goes, doesn't let anyone forget that he's the one with the badge, and applies an "arrest them all and let the Judge sort it out" attitude.

Basically, Joe's there to help the neighborhood - he's a friendly face, someone who you can turn to in times of trouble, and someone who isn't going to throw the book at you because you jaywalked. He charges people with crimes only because it helps the neighborhood and the people in it. Detective Corleone isn't there to help you - he's there to make a collar. You're not his friend, you're his assignment. You're either a criminal, a witness, or someone who's going to get in the way of an investigation. He's looking for people to write up (he may even have a quota), and if you haven't committed a crime yet, well, don't, because he'll be watching ...

While most officers fall somewhere between the two Hollywood stereotypes, people, while they're fine with or would even welcome Joes, the don't want officers they perceive as Corleones in their neighborhood. The problem with cameras is that they tend toward Corleones, rather than Joes. They don't build personal relationships - the people watching are in a distant building. They don't help lost tourists. They don't do kind reminders - they're cold and impassive, and all communication from them is in the form of impersonal, officially written notices. They aren't there to help you - they're there to nab criminals. A camera won't step in to help if you're being mugged - it will sit there calm and impassively, watching. It may catch the guy after the fact, but won't step in during**. Cameras may help by reducing crime, but only by instilling a Big-Brother-esque knowledge that "I'm watching you, punk. One false step, and your ass is mine < the two fingers to the eyes gesture >" The camera doesn't care that you're falsely accused or there were mitigating circumstances - take it up with the judge, who cares even less about you than the camera does.

So, no, while I am fine with a caring *human(e)* officer standing on the corner, I don't want a cold, impassive, "you're all criminals" *in-human* officer on the corner, whether that's an electronics-based camera, or a carbon-based lifeform. If you could swing it, I'm all for a kind, gentle "Officer Joe" style camera system, but I haven't seen one that doesn't succumb to the tendency for people to reduce things on a screen to near-NPC status.

**Cynics will point out that cops won't necessarily step in during - but that's the Corleone-like aspect. The Officer Joe stereotype would step in to help, and would even run several blocks towards screams for help.

Re:Sure, but... (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#29180237)

You won't object if City Hall mandates that all entrances and exits are monitored, 24/7 then? Why stop there? Great Britain is going to install cameras into some targeted homes, to see that children go to bed on time, do their homework, etc.

Personally, I object to the concept of a police state.....

Re:Sure, but... (5, Insightful)

twostix (1277166) | about 5 years ago | (#29180243)

It's nothing like the twisted distortion of reality that you have attempted to portray here.

If the police wish to follow my every movement then they need a court order - it's called surveillance and yes when in public if someone is following me around writing down everything I do and say that is not protecting my "human rights" that's violating them in a huge way. It's called harrasment and stalking if a police officer does it without the legal authority handed down by a judge on a case by case basis to do so.

Your pathetic attitude toward mass state surveillance is quite depressing by the way, and no a camera can't protect your "human rights"

"CCTV captures chilling moment drug-fuelled thugs beat OAP to death"

"Hells Angels Member Beaten To Death in Sydney Airport"

"Dad of 6 is beaten to death by gang"

All happenened in front of or right next to CCTV cameras.

Time to grow up ey?

Re:Sure, but... (5, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | about 5 years ago | (#29179771)

While I personally don't think that they're much of a deterrent,

Sometimes they are just an amusement.

My local Dunkin Donuts is about 60 feet by 30 feet and has, count 'em, 13 of those dark plastic ceiling bubbles. I think they should hold a contest and give out free donuts to anyone who can guess exactly how many of them actually contain a camera.

Oh, and the place has been robbed twice in the last year.

Re:Sure, but... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179569)

Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent?

A lot less now that criminals know they have a 1 in 1000 chance of getting caught.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29179597)

Not to mention the crimes they do solve are usually the ones we can live with, IE catching some kid shoplifting rather than catching CCTV camera manufacturers bribing lawmakers to erode privacy.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29179625)

Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent? I always considered cameras more of a prevention, i.e. only idiots commit crimes in front of cameras.

That would perhaps make cameras somewhat useful for prevention, if criminals were usually acting on a rationa cost-benefit analysis considering the likelihood of being caught vs. the probable profit or enjoyment resulting from their actions. And even that, only if cameras were actually effective at making it easier criminals, which gets back to the report which is discussed in TFA.

Bottom line is that cameras are more than anything security theater (or, in the jurisdiction at immediate issue in TFA, security theatre), which are pursued because they (as noted by the Home Office spokesman quoted in TFA) "help communities feel safer".

Re:Sure, but... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | about 5 years ago | (#29179633)

Locks only keep honest people out of your house. A hoodie + hat or other facial obfuscation = entire purpose of the camera has been defeated. Criminals know how to defeat simple measures, it's what they do. So I would say that probably 1-2% of criminals would be completely deterred from robbing somebody, stealing a car, or whatever, but the rest would just scout out the cameras and not look at them and wear a hoodie to prevent good angle/shot of the face, or simply wear other methods of obscuring their faces.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Interesting)

Alien Being (18488) | about 5 years ago | (#29179755)

I think a mod point would have been wasted here as your comment already seems buried.

It's exactly what I was going to say. I know of plenty of local businesses that get ripped off and surveillance pics are usually worthless.

Fake cams are almost as good as real ones.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 5 years ago | (#29180353)

I think facial painting is the most effective.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29180389)

Criminals know how to defeat simple measures, it's what they do. So I would say that probably 1-2% of criminals would be completely deterred from robbing somebody, stealing a car, or whatever, but the rest would just scout out the cameras and not look at them and wear a hoodie to prevent good angle/shot of the face, or simply wear other methods of obscuring their faces.

I'd need to see actual data. Seems equally likely to me that only 1-2% of car thieves are smart enough to do avoid these measures. If you're running low on meth and see an ipod in a car at night, you may be thinking little more than smashed window = ipod = more meth, "wear a hoodie so you don't get photographed and caught" might be pretty advanced for you. After all, everyone knows the halfway intelligent criminals don't steal cars, they go to law school.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Informative)

Score Whore (32328) | about 5 years ago | (#29179655)

According to one of Schneier's blog posts the cameras don't reduce crime at all. They shift it to other locations. Such a shift is an entirely different question, but perhaps still a valid goal.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179739)

Exactly. If putting a camera on my local street corner, doesnt reduce "overall crime", but it DOES reduce crime *on my block*... well, heck, I want a camera on my block!

Re:Sure, but... (2, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | about 5 years ago | (#29179659)

Take them down for a few months to find out?

How many people care in light of this information (3, Insightful)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#29179683)

"Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent?"

If I was somebody who was aware of the failure of the cameras in terms of identification I would simply stop caring they exist.

In EVERY situation there are cameras it is a excercise in futility.

For Example:

In highschool we would do various illegal activities in the back. They put up cameras. We got scared. After about a month we stopped caring and it was business as usual, but we got more sneaky and better at our activities. We even would stage large fights right in front of the cameras with absolutely no mediation.

Moral of the story is that nothing beats an on duty cop/teacher in person patrolling. All these cameras have done for London is made them the base for 1984 jokes for the past few years.

Re:How many people care in light of this informati (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179777)

All these cameras have done for London is made them the base for 1984 jokes for the past few years.

And sucked up money that could have been spent doing something productive, like prosecuting wheel clampers.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

masmullin (1479239) | about 5 years ago | (#29179689)

+ how many false arrests have been prevented.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#29179867)

Police officers have 0 accountability. Their accountability is... other police officers. Since they are not elected they don't have to worry about us citizens wanting them gone. All they have to do is say "oh he looked suspicious to me" and most other police officers will shrug.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29180107)

Police officers have 0 accountability. Their accountability is... other police officers. Since they are not elected they don't have to worry about us citizens wanting them gone.

That depends on how big your balls are and what you're willing to do to hold someone accountable. If you're willing to inflict bodily harm or death then you can hold damn near anyone accountable provided you can get close enough.

(Note that this may sound like dick waving but it happens to be the truth.)

Re:Sure, but... (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | about 5 years ago | (#29179737)

Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent? I always considered cameras more of a prevention, i.e. only idiots commit crimes in front of cameras.

But this shows that they're clearly not idiots, since cameras only help in 0.1% of crimes. So at the very best cameras are successful security theatre (until said criminals read this report). In the more likely case however they're no good at all in prevention as generally criminals figure out what protection does or doesn't work a hell of faster than government/police panels.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 5 years ago | (#29179835)

There's another possibility: that criminals are idiots, commit their crimes in front of cameras, and still don't get caught. From reading UK police blogs, I conclude that this is the closest approximation to the truth. The difficulty of finding the camera evidence and getting it into court in a form that the court will accept prohibits their use for all but the most high profile crimes.

The debate (such as it is) should be: is it worth having all those cameras to catch a few murderers? Anything else is a strawman.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

mikael (484) | about 5 years ago | (#29179847)

They were installed to prevent terrorists to prevent "spectaculars" and to deter robberies in the obscure corners of railway station overpasses.

For the first event, the police would have enough resources to examine the footage from every camera.

For the second event, it would only take a security guard in a control room to notice anyone standing around for a long period of time then call in the transport police.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179877)

We had severe graffiti vandalism at the school.
During term holidays I tried to install an infra-red activated camera to cover the worst area but couldn't get it to work.
Someone must have seen what was going on because from that day on there was no more graffiti.
So, yes, maybe there is a prevention factor.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#29179905)

Alternatively, only idiots believe cameras are effective tools for catching criminals and therefore change their behaviour when in front of one.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 5 years ago | (#29179911)

How many people did they catch dogging?

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 5 years ago | (#29179959)

There are three CCTV cameras visible from my bedroom window. There are many more idiots visible from there.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

moon3 (1530265) | about 5 years ago | (#29180043)

Yep, the best are the fake plastic cams -- the dummy CCTV cameras, those rival the German shepherd dog and are even water proof.

Re:Sure, but... (5, Insightful)

twostix (1277166) | about 5 years ago | (#29180145)

"Dad of 6 is beaten to death by gang"

"The attack is believed to have been recorded by two nearby CCTV cameras. Police are currently studying the footage. "

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20061015/ai_n16785042/ [findarticles.com]

"Student beaten to death yards from home"

"Detectives, who will examine CCTV footage, want to speak to a cyclist who was seen in the area. "

Do you think the sorts of crimes that CCTV cameras are supposed to "prevent" are committed by well mannered, forward thinking and highly analytical individuals?

There's a big disconnect between people on these tech sites and reality of the mindset of much of the lower class.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Tom (822) | about 5 years ago | (#29180217)

Sure, but how many crimes did it prevent?

Very few. The dumb criminals don't notice or care, the smart criminals know the numbers as well as we do.

Obviously, another question is how many crimes simply moved to areas without cameras.

That's been researched last year or so, and the result was: Bingo, that exactly is what the cameras do. The amount of crimes has not been reduced, but the places where they happened have shifted a little.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Interesting)

Grieviant (1598761) | about 5 years ago | (#29180253)

According to an ABC article (linked by the Wiki entry on CCTV) from a couple years ago, there is some evidence to suggest CCTV is worse at prevention than it is at solving crimes.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=3360287 [go.com]

Quoting from page 2:
"According to a British Home Office review of dozens of studies analyzing the cameras' value at reducing crime, half showed a negative or negligible effect and the other half showed a negligible decrease of 4 percent at most. Researchers found that crime in Glasgow, Scotland, actually increased by 9 percent after cameras were installed there.

In the United States, one of the most prominent examples was Tampa's use of facial recognition technology in 2001. But the city's police department dropped the technology two years later when it failed to result in a single arrest. The use of video surveillance was considered by the Oakland, Calif., police chief, but he ultimately found that "there is no conclusive way to establish that the presence of video surveillance resulted in the prevention or reduction of crime." "

Re:Sure, but... (5, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 5 years ago | (#29180331)

Some relevant links:
"Is Public CCTV Effective?" [ipvideomarket.info]

This is relevant because "This report offers key findings from the 20 top studies/articles in the field and offers practical recommendations on how to optimize the use of public CCTV systems."

Key Findings Summary
        * The expectation that CCTV systems should be deployed to reduce crime rather than solve crime has created huge problems.
        * While the studies show serious doubt on CCTV's ability to reduce crime generally, a strong consensus exists in CCTV's ability to reduce premeditative/property crime
        * CCTV is consistently treated as a singular, stable technology, obscuring radical technological changes that have occurred in the last 10 years
        * Differences in per camera costs are largely ignored, preventing policy makers from finding ways to reduce costs
        * Routine comparison of police vs cameras is counterproductive

Practical Recommendations Summary
        * Stop claiming that CCTV can generally reduce crime
        * Optimize future public CCTV projects around crime solving rather than crime reduction
        * Optimize future public CCTV projects around material and premeditative crimes
        * Target technologies that support crime solving and material/premeditative crimes
        * Focus on minimizing cost per camera

and "CCTV in Glasgow" [u-net.com]
Main Findings
- In the 12 months after installation of the cameras there were 3,156 fewer crimes and offences than the average for the 24 months preceding installation.
- Once the crime and offence figures were adjusted to take account of the general downward trend in crimes and offences, reductions were noted in certain categories but there was no evidence to suggest that the cameras had reduced crime overall in the city centre.
- The cameras appeared to have little effect on clear up rates for crimes and offences.
- 33% of people questioned in the city centre were aware of the cameras 3 months after installation and 41% 15 months after installation.
- Installation of the CCTV cameras did not reduce the proportion of those who said they would sometimes avoid a certain part of the city but there was a slight reduction in those who said they were anxious about becoming a victim of crime in the city centre.
- 72% of all those interviewed believed CCTV cameras would prevent crime and disorder; 81% thought they would be effective in catching perpetrators; and 79% thought they would make people feel less likely that they would become victims of crime.
- 67% of those interviewed 'did not mind' being observed by street cameras.

Personally, I think the cost is the only way we can argue back our privacy. Say you are not willing to pay for costly, ineffective measures.

Yes but it's been effective in one area (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179543)

CCTV has shown that Rob Malda's dick is eclipsed by that of a gerbil's penis.

Not about solving crimes (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29179557)

It's not about solving crimes and those of us that aren't complete sheep know it. It's about getting people use to an intrusive government presence and getting them to accept it with minimum complaint. For that it's been very effective.

Re:Not about solving crimes (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | about 5 years ago | (#29179609)

I'm just as much a member of the tinfoil hat brigade as anyone else, but doesn't that seem a bit of a leap of logic?
It seems to me that the simplest explanation for their presence (deterring crime and identifying criminals) is in this case the best one.

Re:Not about solving crimes (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179645)

There's always been a government presence, even in the 1800s when it was "Bill the Copper" patrolling the streets. Upgrading that police presence from organic to electronic doesn't really change anything.

Re:Not about solving crimes (2, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | about 5 years ago | (#29180207)

I disagree with this for two reasons.

Firstly, this is the "Windows Vista" style of "upgrade". CCTV is no substitute for a real policeman. The presence of an actual person is reassuring to the law abiding and off-putting to the crims.

Secondly, in the 1800s, "Bill the Copper" was not an arm of the Government. Have a look at Robert Peel's original principles: "the police are the public, and the public are the police" [wikipedia.org] . Of course it is not like that any more. The Government has been interfering with the police, mostly making their job harder, which is why we now pay for almost-useless window-dressing substitutes such as CCTV and Community Support Officers, while the real officers sit in their stations filling out forms, occasionally reacting to crime after it has happened.

You can read all about this on various UK police blogs, which make a fascinating read. Start with http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com] ; a lot of other interesting sites are listed in his blogroll.

RE: huge intrusion on privacy? (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#29179559)

i would really hate to have my privacy intruded upon while walking around in public ;p

of course it is a waste of funds, all the money spent on those camera would probably pay for an extra dozen police cars or hire several more police officers to patrol the higher crime infested areas...

Re: huge intrusion on privacy? (5, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 5 years ago | (#29179891)

i would really hate to have my privacy intruded upon while walking around in public ;p

Solid point. However, there is a difference between:
- Your actions going unrecorded in public
- Your actions being recorded as a matter of chance (someone random taking your picture or accidentally including you in one)
- Your actions always being recorded.

Re: huge intrusion on privacy? (1)

dnaumov (453672) | about 5 years ago | (#29180075)

i would really hate to have my privacy intruded upon while walking around in public ;p

That's an oxymoron you are describing. You don't have any privacy in public, they are exact opposites of each other.

Re: huge intrusion on privacy? (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 5 years ago | (#29180137)

woosh

Re: huge intrusion on privacy? (1)

twostix (1277166) | about 5 years ago | (#29180275)

So you wouldn't mind me waiting outside your mother/sisters/girlfriends house and then following them and recording them on camera wherever they go all day everyday?

I think your expectation of privacy in reality probably isn't quite so simple as you attempt to make out here.

It was never about crime. (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#29179561)

It's all about intimidating law-abiding citizens.

-jcr

Re:It was never about crime. (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 5 years ago | (#29179643)

The country that brought you Big Brother is bringing you ... Big Brother.

Re:It was never about crime. (2, Insightful)

geckipede (1261408) | about 5 years ago | (#29179797)

But nobody is intimidated by them. They're not like speed cameras where you can be certain that anything you do wrong will be noticed. We all know damn well that on the other side of the lens there isn't an army of jack-booted thugs waiting to haul us away, all there is watching us is a bored person sitting in an office surrounded by screens, and that person doesn't care.

Thats some dangerous thinking there SpuriouisLogic (3, Funny)

pwnies (1034518) | about 5 years ago | (#29179577)

Thats some dangerous thinking there SpuriousLogic. I think someone wants to visit the Ministry of Love.

They just need HDTV cameras. (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29179583)

The current ones suffer from being blurry, so ID can not be made. If they upgraded to HD quality, then they could see the criminals' faces.

Re:They just need HDTV cameras. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179639)

How much would that cost, and if someone ripped one off its post, could they use it at home as an HD camera?

Uh. Just asking.

Re:They just need HDTV cameras. (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29180057)

Sure. Lets throw way more money at it and hope it works.

Great idea.

Meanwhile, criminals are reading your post and laughing their asses off. Like they give a shit about HD...

London gets future-crime predicting CCTV cameras (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | about 5 years ago | (#29179591)

The Greater London Assembly is introducing CCTV cameras claimed to "predict" if a crime is about to take place [today.com] and alert operators to suspicious behaviour, such as loitering, apparent thought in public, walking while brown or not spending money fast enough.

Anyone spotted may then have to explain their behaviour to a police officer. "Tough on lack of consumer confidence, tough on the causes of lack of consumer confidence," said Nick Hewitson of EDS Capita Goatse SmartCCTV. ("Consumer confidence" is a technical economics jargon term measuring willingness to casually spend ridiculous sums of cash on idiotic rubbish, particularly while drunk.)

"Only a criminal terrorist paedophile with something to hide could possibly object," said councillor Jason Fazackarley. "Criminals will pay much better attention to their dress and grooming with cameras there. Channel 4 has tentatively offered us a reality TV show. And Channel 5 would quite like the tapes of drunken shagging in shop delivery bays."

The project has been compared to the Tom Cruise science-fiction film Minority Report, in which psychic journalists are arrested on CCTV before they commit the crime of not peppering articles with the most obvious possible cliches copied from other papers.

However, Stephen Fry has delivered a crushing blow to the project with an unfortunately-timed negative review on his Twitter feed: "++ungood crimethink brb txtspk lol."

Re:London gets future-crime predicting CCTV camera (4, Funny)

jaxtherat (1165473) | about 5 years ago | (#29179837)

Best. Post. Ever.

One-time versus continuous cost (5, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 5 years ago | (#29179615)

CCTV cameras are a one-time installation cost (with a minor amount of maintenance). Regular police forces are a continuous cost.

A million cameras capture 1 per 1000 = 1,000 criminals caught per year. The following years should catch an equivalent number - for little additional cost. This is one of the basic problems with news reporting - if the BBC had splashed a big story headlined "CCTV Cameras Catch 1,000 Per Year", there would be an entirely different public reaction.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | about 5 years ago | (#29179701)

And that's called spin. :)

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29179725)

wrong. If that money had been spent elsewhere it may very well have solved more crimes [extra police doing their jobs for example] if having spent the money elsewhere would have stopped 1000+ crimes a year I doubt the public reaction to that situation would be positive.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 5 years ago | (#29180089)

Everyone knows the best way to solve crimes in London is simply:
  1) Let the criminals go free
  2) Wait 30-40 years
  3) Hit a young detective with a car
  4) Wacky hijinks ensue, resulting in ambiguous time travel and the prevention of the original crimes.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179757)

Someone has to be paid to watch the camera or the camera is useless.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179999)

That's not true - They also act as a deterrent.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

prockcore (543967) | about 5 years ago | (#29179799)

Actually, it costs money to power them, and it costs money to have someone monitoring them. In fact, there was an article not too long ago talking about how thousands of cameras aren't even turned on because they can't afford it.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 years ago | (#29180047)

The power is fairly cheap, but the monitoring and maintenance aren't.

It's like US "information-gathering" capabilities. Say what you will about a new method of the FBI or NSA "watching you" -- on the large scale they're tightly constrained by the resources necessary to sift through data.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 5 years ago | (#29179917)

Your maths works out, if you assume that there's no cost involved with obtaining camera footage, searching it, and producing compelling and admissible evidence. If you don't get that last bit, I'll spell it out for you: English courts are lucky to have a VCR in them, let alone a DVD player, which would be a problem if the police had the resources to make DVDs. "Luckily", they don't - most forces can barely manage a crappy VCR transfer, and the costs (in time) are prohibitive for all but the most high profile cases.

Oh, and you're also assuming that the crimes that were "solved" by CCTV footage wouldn't have been solved without it. Why's that?

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (4, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | about 5 years ago | (#29179975)

The cameras are mostly a one-time cost. However, to have people monitoring them is a continuous expense. Given the relative costs of technology vs. labor, I suspect that's a large part of the cost.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

Tom (822) | about 5 years ago | (#29180163)

Your basic assumption is false.

Maintainence is not such a minor amount, and the cameras have to be monitored, which is also a continuous cost. The presence of cameras has been demonstrated to provide much less deterence than the presence of an actual police officer.

All in all, running the numbers on this is vastly overdue.

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 years ago | (#29180269)

The cool thing is that with an average lifespan of 1000 years*, the average camera will capture one crime.

Some of those crimes might even not have other actionable evidence (witnesses, bloody fingerprints, criminal leaving picture ID at the scene).

*ymmv

Re:One-time versus continuous cost (1)

twostix (1277166) | about 5 years ago | (#29180323)

That would only be the case if you're stupid enough to believe that the number of criminals captured would go up in a linear fashion against the number of cameras installed.

And in that case why not put up a billion cameras or a trillion and we'll be capturing a 10 million criminals a year!

Crime - especially brutal random beatings in public (I'd say something about ultra violence and the prophetic A Clockwork Orange here but it's too depressing) have gone up in the UK over the last ten years - the cameras prevent nothing.

The solution is obvious.... (1)

Gudeldar (705128) | about 5 years ago | (#29179649)

install 6,523,706,000 cameras! That would give you 1000 cameras for every 1 crime committed in Britain. Though I propose installing them in people's eyes as soon as the technology becomes available, it is a much more efficient strategy considering you only need 1 (or possibly 2) cameras per person.

Re:The solution is obvious.... (1)

Shark (78448) | about 5 years ago | (#29179923)

The government doesn't do obvious. Their solution is therefore to make many many many more activities that happen in front of a camera illegal.

Wrong conclusion. This is about saving LIVES jack (2, Informative)

e2d2 (115622) | about 5 years ago | (#29179691)

We need more cameras with better quality. HD quality with multiple lenses to also read in different spectrums such as infrared and ultraviolet and of course these should have sensitive shotgun microphones. If we deploy ten times the number of cameras that are currently out there we can stop these dirty crooks and rid he world of crime once and for all!

Re:Wrong conclusion. This is about saving LIVES ja (2, Funny)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about 5 years ago | (#29179853)

"...of course these should have big-assed shotguns"

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Wrong conclusion. This is about saving LIVES ja (1)

bugi (8479) | about 5 years ago | (#29180027)

Do tell. How would you quantify LIVES vs privacy vs money?

What about lesser crimes, like robbery?

What about rape and kidnapping?

Or better yet, victimless crimes like smoking a joint?

Re:Wrong conclusion. This is about saving LIVES ja (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29180041)

At the cost of what?? Those million London cameras cost 500 million.
Ten times that is 5 billion.
Where does that money come from? The police? Hospitals? Food for grannies? Education?

It would have to come from somewhere.

Social Tranquilizers (2, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 5 years ago | (#29179731)

CCTV, like the US color coded terror alert level, the beefed up airport screening people and processes, and the very Dept. of Homeland Security itself are not primarily intended to be first-line effective deterrents. They are intended to be that, and do the job somewhat, but they are foremost intended to be seen by the populace as being devised and put into place by their government. The government has a mind set that the people need to be tranquilized -- that they are afraid and need to be comforted. I sat in on some of the committee meetings held at and for NIH, and the things suggested that were carried through were high visibility projects. Those things not visible were far less likely to be taken seriously, even though many would have been more effective (and were in other places at other times). There's also the inevitable politician's choice to be seen doing something positive, but still if it weren't visible, nobody thought it would carry much weight. I had a friend at Commerce and she said exactly the same sort of things went on in their meetings.

Straw man argument; cameras PREVENT crime (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 5 years ago | (#29180147)

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Sure the cameras didn't solve many crimes -- that's because criminals don't like to commit crime on camera! We ought to consider how many crimes the cameras prevented.

Don't get me wrong, I hate surveillance as much as the next guy, but it can't be defeated with such an obvious straw-man argument.

How many crimes have been prevented? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179801)

These numbers [www.geo.tv] show that crime is on the decrease. I'm not saying it's a great source or even that it's right but if someone can offset it please do.

It cameras can do this and not infringe on the privacy rights of others than what's the harm?

ONE THOUSAND?! (3, Insightful)

uwnav (1009705) | about 5 years ago | (#29179895)

Lets have your grandma walk down the street, get mugged, break her hip and be traumatized. How many CCTVs would you be willing to put up to reduce the chances of that ever happening again? This privacy thing is getting incompetent, when you're in the public.. you're in the public. Unless someone has CCTVs pointing into your house. Appreciate the fact that if someone knifed you in the street, you have a better chance of catching that person

Re:ONE THOUSAND?! (2, Insightful)

ex_ottoyuhr (607701) | about 5 years ago | (#29180031)

By your logic, there was nothing wrong with Guantanamo Bay.

The right answer is not to dive into the ethically dubious (or the ethically outrageous, in the case of using torture); it's to look for the solution that works best, not the solution that sounds scariest. CCTVs are security theater with particularly creepy overtones; sustained police foot patrols are a better way of helping grandmothers, and anyone else. See also my comment just below, linking to Dalrymple on the lack of police commitment.

Re:ONE THOUSAND?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29180233)

If you get knifed in the street, you don't have any chance of catching that person, because you're probably dead.

Re:ONE THOUSAND?! (2, Interesting)

xigxag (167441) | about 5 years ago | (#29180271)

We can all make up scenarios where something might theoretically be a deterrent, but it's just a fantasy until stats bear out there's a real positive impact. And then that impact has to be weighed against the cost. Are 1,000 CCTVs cheaper than one police officer? Let's have YOUR grandma walk down the street, get mugged, break her hip and be traumatized because one less cop got hired in place of a bunch of cameras that can't do anything but watch.

Lack of will. (1)

ex_ottoyuhr (607701) | about 5 years ago | (#29179947)

Theodore Dalrymple's opinion on the matter is that the police in England just don't bother [timesonline.co.uk] to solve most crimes -- hardly even to investigate them. That their cameras do such a horrible job of helping criminal investigations shouldn't be a surprise, then; technology is only useful if it's used.

On the other hand, it's merciful that this kind of technology is not used. Privacy is an important thing, and it's not at all true that the only people who have cause to desire it are those who have something to hide; and as to controlling crime, it's foot patrols that work, not surveillance.

wrong conclusion (2, Interesting)

bugi (8479) | about 5 years ago | (#29180003)

I don't know how it operates over there, but here in the US this is what's called a request for more money.

Upgrade them to HD (1)

matrixskp (629075) | about 5 years ago | (#29180049)

I agree the cameras should be upgraded to HD, I always watch the crime and car chase TV programs and its a a shame not to have the footage captured in glorious Hi Def. Also if the timecode and other overlays where captured to an alpha channel then it could be removed for TV broadcast, or just be replaced completly when being used to frame an innocent civilian. The camera may 'replace' an actual coppers eyes (and be more cost efficient) but it cant actually run down the street and stop a crime and the reality is... if only 1 in 1000 cops stopped a crime per year the public would be asking "What are they doing the rest of the time?"

should be more than that (1)

pablo_max (626328) | about 5 years ago | (#29180193)

I dont know how much credence I would give to that.
I know it's only anecdotal, but some little bastard kept nicking stuff off by buddies balcony and we told his mother, who promptly accused us of being racist.
She changed her tone once the police came by armed with the shiny photos take of him stealing more stuff after we set up our own camera.

Point is, it only effective if someone is willing to find out who the little fucker in the photo actually is!

Reminds me of this Simpsons movie scene: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29180341)

Wohooo!
We found somebody!
(Yells trough the giant room.)
The government finally found somebody we're looking for!

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