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Surveillance Cameras in Britain Not Effective?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the security-blanket dept.

Privacy 434

zymurgy_cat writes "An interesting piece in The Christian Science Monitor questions whether or not the 4 million plus cameras in Britain are effective in deterring crime. It touches upon the usual issues of privacy, who has access to the tapes, and so forth. Despite this, people still seem to prefer the cameras."

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HOLY SHIT SLASHDOT SUCKS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211058)

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Deterrence is not the only factor (5, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211061)

Why the emphasis on deterrence?

Surveillance cameras are essential in solving crimes.

Re:Deterrence is not the only factor (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211098)

Isn't one of the main reasons to solve crimes to deter future crime? Isn't that the idea behind a criminal justice system?

Re:Deterrence is not the only factor (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211256)

Isn't one of the main reasons to solve crimes to deter future crime? Isn't that the idea behind a criminal justice system?
Sort of, but not really. The primary reason to solve crimes isn't deterrence, it's to catch and punish the people responsible for committing the crimes. I suppose that, in its own way, this process does help to deter some crime; but don't be fooled, we don't do it as a deterrent. We do it as revenge, we do it so that the family of a rape victim can rest easy at night knowing that the asshole responsible is rotting away in a prison cell somewhere.

The idea of deterrence does factor heavily into criminal justice, but more as an answer to the question, "how can we prevent crimes from taking place?" In the justice system, deterrence is usually interpreted as the "fear factor" caused by the potential punishment for committing a crime. If you're convicted of first-degree murder, you're looking at life in prison or a death sentence. That fact, in and of itself, is supposed to be the "deterrent."

Most people don't commit murder. It's not because there's nobody they'd like to kill; pretty much everyone has at least one enemy they'd love to see removed from society. The reason most people don't commit murder is because they realize the penalty for doing so. That's deterrence.

With surveillance cameras, the idea is that the presence of the camera (and thus the knowledge that if a crime is committed, it's likely to be caught on tape) is supposed to be a deterrent. This week, in Florida, we saw a good example of the fact that surveillance cameras don't deter every crime. This is a given, though, as a best-case sentence of life in prison doesn't stop some people from killing others.

IANALEA, but I did take some CJUS classes in college...

hyperbole alert! (1, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211242)

Surveillance cameras are essential in solving crimes.


Surveillance cameras may be helpful in solving crimes, but they are hardly essential. Or do you seriously suggest that before the introduction of CCTV no crimes were solved?

Why all the concern? (4, Interesting)

Gilesx (525831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211062)

If I'd just committed a double murder, or cleaned out a jeweller's in the heist of the century, then I might actually be worried about cameras monitoring my every move.

As it is, I lead a life that is infinitely more boring than the scenarios listed above, and I am therefore of the opinion that if people want to watch me walking to the store at 10pm to grab a bottle of milk, they are more than welcome. Why should I care who's watching me if I have nothing to hide? And aren't cameras just an extension of any authority watching me? What's next? Policeman on the streets shouldn't look at the public as it is an infringement of civil liberties?

Re:Why all the concern? (5, Insightful)

Lurker McLurker (730170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211089)

Oh, no. Not the "I have nothing to hide" argument.The idea that only criminlas need be concerned about this sort of thing is dangerously complacent. We all need to ask whether or not giving up some of our privacy is worth it. We need to look at the costs and benefits, and the benefits seem to be unclear.

Re:Why all the concern? (5, Insightful)

Gilesx (525831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211104)

It's actually the "why do I give a shit?" argument. I used to live in a town of 6000 and they had 3 cameras up along the high street there. I walked down that street maybe 8 times a week for 3 years, and didn't have my life impacted one iota by the cameras present. In fact, the first week after they were constructed, I'd forgotten they were even there.

You tell me I lost privacy there - surely I also lose privacy on any street in the world I walk down that has anybody else walking down it at the same time. The whole point of public is that it is open to all. I'm also sure I don't need to remind you that public is the opposite of private.

Re:Why all the concern? (5, Insightful)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211245)

I walked down that street maybe 8 times a week for 3 years, and didn't have my life impacted one iota by the cameras present.

Not yet you didnt - now I am just being hypothecial here...

1. 12 photos of you picking your nose are posted to a website

2. 5 photos and one 14 second video posted of you scratching your ass

3. Evidence that you left work early 30 minutes on the 15th of May 2005 to go and pick up some dry cleaning - why you didnt record this on your timesheet?

4. Who was that woman you were talking to on the 18th of November. This isnt a criminal matter of course, but your wife is now interested.

5. You spent 45 minutes in a competitors shop, and walked out with 2 shopping bags - nothing criminal here, but how does this look to your boss?

I could go on, but basically there *are* issues with 24/7 camera monitoring which affect peoples privacy. I certainly see the benefits of them (catching the kidnappers/murderers/rapists), but I dont think you should say "I didn't do anything wrong so I've got nothing to hide" - people are basically petty, and can often use the stupidest things against you.

Re:Why all the concern? (5, Interesting)

no longer myself (741142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211253)

Why don't you give a shit? If someone walked up to you and asked you if they could take your picture, you'd probably get extremely camera shy, ask them why, and probably deny their request.

Don't bother replying telling me how you wouldn't have a problem with this. I've actually walked up to strangers in public downtown Dayton for the express purpose of testing my theory. Out of 15 people I got 15 disturbed reactions, and 15 requests denied. I was also twice approached for questioning as to why I was disturbing people by requesting to take their photograph. After the second time I decided it best not to continue my experiment lest I end up being assaulted or thrown in jail.

The pitch line was that I was a photography student, and I needed a person with a downtown neighborhood backdrop for an assignment. It sounded quite plausable, and no one contested my intent once I explained as such. I never really took any photos, as the experiment was to simply test a theory.

What I don't understand is why people don't want their picture taken when the intent to show the beautiful side of humanity, but they don't really care when they are being video taped with the intent to capture their ugliest moments.

Oh, and the cherry on top? They were all being watched by an obvious nearby surveilance camera when they declined my request.

Re:Why all the concern? (3, Insightful)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211129)

Widespread surveillance can also be used to prove your innocence. If you are unfairly accused of a crime, it would come in real handy if the police can pull up a video of wherever you were at the time.
I, for one, couldn't care less if people film me, have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear. You can put cameras in all the rooms of my house and watch me 24/7, if it turns you on. I barely leave the computer anyway, but I might put on a show just for you :P

Don't feed the trolls (-1, Offtopic)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211101)

BIG SIGN GOES HERE.

It says: "Don't feed the trolls"

Re:Why all the concern? (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211102)

This works reasonably well enough up until the time walking to the store at 10 P.M. is considered probable cause, or even criminal.

But by then it's too late to turn back.

KFG

Re:Why all the concern? (4, Insightful)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211106)

Why should I care who's watching me if I have nothing to hide? And aren't cameras just an extension of any authority watching me? What's next? Policeman on the streets shouldn't look at the public as it is an infringement of civil liberties?

No, what's next is mandatory DNA sampling and fingerprinting upon demand of law enforcement for whatever reason (whether you're under arrest or not). Actually hell, the U.K. may already have that. I forgot you don't have a written Constitution that prevents such invasions of privacy and self-incrimination. I guess you don't mind if the police just casually look around your flat everytime they're in the neighborhood just to make sure you're not doing anything wrong. Afterall, you have nothing to hide. Where does it stop? Before you say America is turning into the same thing, yes, and we're bitching about it here just as much. The AmeriNazi government under Shrub is destroying our rights without constitutional authority.

Re:Why all the concern? (-1, Troll)

Gilesx (525831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211123)

When your constitution <b>doesn't</b> enable just about anybody to obtain a firearm and then use it at will, then you can lord it over us Brits. Until then, you just enjoy your ghetto paradise and drive-bys, and we'll make do with being fingerprinted as standard when we're arrested for a crime.

Re:Why all the concern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211171)

Well, according to this link it seems Britain has quite a big gun problem.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gun/0,2759,178412,00.h tm l

According to some statistics I read, the crime rate in Britain has skyrocketed since the gun control was put in place.

Re:Why all the concern? (1)

madhippy (525384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211228)

USA Today [usatoday.com]

Quote: By no stretch does Lambeth, or any other area in Britain, remotely approach what most Americans would consider murderously crime-ridden. Less than 1% of crime in this country is committed with a gun. And in all of Britain in 1999-2000, there were only 62 firearm-related murders. By comparison, in the USA, 7,950 homicides were committed with guns in 1999. (The U.S. population is about 4 1/2 times Britain's.) Forty-two of the British murders were committed with handguns obtained illegally. Armed robberies, also with handguns, have increased dramatically.


regardless of any increase (interpreted as skyrocketing or not) - we still have a very long way to go to reach US levels ...

Re:Why all the concern? (4, Insightful)

clifyt (11768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211144)

Manditory DNA testing is invasive. You own your body cells, so even if its just discarded material found on your tooth brush or fingernail clippings, its invasive.

Fingerprinting requires that you be detained -- in effect under arrest. Without a crime, it is considered in most of the world false imprisonment (if not legally, morally).

So, self-incrimination??? I don't get it. If you cut yourself while axing someone, do you get to complain that the blood found is self-incriminating. Bullshit.

Survlance in a public street is and should be legitimate. The minute they start pointing their cameras into my home -- using infrared or other privacy invading technologies, I might get upset. The fact that someone can see you as you walk down the streets is fine with me. I get annoyed when cops follow me -- that is a threatening physical form of intimidation, but cameras? Either you are an idiot or a criminal, or a combination of both if you think this effects you in any way.

Having said that, I still enjoy f'ing with these things with my laser pointer :-) Along the same lines, if its in the street, I shouldn't be allowed to get arrested for pointing a light at something. Civil liberties goes both ways...

Re:Why all the concern? (4, Insightful)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211192)

I agree with your response to the other post, but then you say this:

Either you are an idiot or a criminal, or a combination of both if you think this effects you in any way.

Is objectivity a thing of the past? Are you OK with not considering the arguments of your opposition in any way whatsoever?

Relying on the trustworthiness of surveillance in public places means relying on the trustworthiness of "the government". This would be a fairly easy decision to make if the government was, say, one or two guys. You'd look at the guys, what they've said, how they've behaved, and you'd either trust them or you wouldn't. The government, however, is made up of thousands of people, all of whom now have access to some pretty personal information about you.

What personal information? Well, if there's a camera on every public street, you can pretty easily be tracked at every location you go to. Tuesday 6:15 - you go to the grocery store. 6:45 - you go out to dinner. At the same restaurant you usually frequent. 7:30 - you hit your favorite local bar (you appear to be an alcoholic). 1:15 A.M. - head home. You appear to walk through a dark alley to get from your car to your apartment.

Do you want hundreds or thousands of people to know your exact routine? Doesn't that freak you out AT ALL? Like I said, you don't have to be an idiot to think this is a bad situation - all you have to believe is that the government employs a percentage of sociopaths who would misuse this information that is comparable to the general populace.

Re:Why all the concern? (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211205)

Are you implying the US constitution prevents such things? It no longer does, and hasn't for quite some time.

Patriot act? Drug war? Internment camps? Communist trials? Witch burnings? It goes back forever.

Those in power manage to convince the people that some violations of the constitution are for their own good, and anyone who speaks out about it is a bad guy.

You can say "Oh well the supreme court can eventually overturn it.."

Guess what. In places like Britain, they may do some things you think the constitution would prevent. They can also much more easily STOP doing those things... it's more rational.

Re:Why all the concern? (2, Informative)

26199 (577806) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211220)

*cough* Data Protection Act *cough*



We're actually very well off in the UK when it comes to private information. Companies dealing with America have to have their American counterparts agree to abide by the same rules, otherwise they can't share data.

Liberty of circulation ? (3, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211127)

let us put it that way, if you have camera every corner, and with face recognition (and amit for a second it has a good enough sucess rate), how can you then be "gainst" your governement , make an alternate party, make civil protest, or manifest, strike, and do whatever else can be construed as public disturbance ? That is right you cannot anymore.

And thus even those which have a lawful life but disliked for some reason by the govt can be monitored and the info used against themselves. Do you repsect law but have a mistress or are you homosexual ? well bad luck now camera can see that, and with face recognition signal to an operator he found the position of one of the person on its list, operator which then promptly make anotation of your activity on a memo.

Is this scenario far eteched ? Well with the price of a CCTV , and the price of computer now, I think the only true obstacle to this scenario is that face recognition isn't that good. But it might be in the future. And as the past leaner, if a govt official can abuse its position , it will. So the above scenario is LIKELY. In such view having nothing to hide [by that I mean being lawful] isn't a protection anymore.

Re:Liberty of circulation ? (2, Insightful)

Flavius Stilicho (220508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211212)

And thus even those which have a lawful life but disliked for some reason by the govt can be monitored and the info used against themselves. Do you repsect law but have a mistress or are you homosexual ? well bad luck now camera can see that, and with face recognition signal to an operator he found the position of one of the person on its list, operator which then promptly make anotation of your activity on a memo.

And when you combine the capabilities of CCTV systems with this [slashdot.org] you've got something REALLY scary because it will only be a matter of time before private corporations are given access to 'manage' these systems due to the large cost to the taxpayer.

This is a BAD idea. We may as well just all get our tracking implants now.

Re:Why all the concern? (2, Insightful)

nniillss (577580) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211138)

If and as long as you love your government, your police authorities etc., you are right: you should not be worried. Otherwise, you might fear that somebody tracks your writing to, talking to, or meeting the wrong people. The issue is total surveillance; as long as policemen are not a single connected Borg, their presence does not pose the same dangers.

One additional danger, in particular in countries like the US where criminal juries are primarily composed of non-experts, is that weird coincidences become much more likely to be observerved in a surveillance state. Can you be sure that you never have used the same plane as a 9/11 suspect? That you don't have common acquaintances? That something you sold in a garage sale has not been used by a criminal? Once large enough data bases are in place, police will be able to find suspects for any crime that might have happened or that someone wants to pretend has happened.

It might surprise you that I am currently trying to get surveillance cameras installed at a local school. However, here the purpose is not total surveillance, but to increase the physical security of the kids and to decrease vandalism. Ordinary people are not affected since they have no business on the school campus anyway.

Re:Why all the concern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211153)

Yes, the authorities need to track us all. Especially those filthy journalists, they're always trying to stir up trouble. We can't have them revealing any embarrassing secrets, so it's a good thing the authorities can track them wherever they go.

The Christian Science Monitor (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211063)

Man.. I don't know where to start... maybe I should change my crapped pants first...

by the way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211064)

here is some hot french porn :)

Introducing baise en groupe [baise-en-groupe.net] (which can be translated as "gang bang") : (triolisme [baise-en-groupe.net] , un gars deux filles [baise-en-groupe.net] , orgie [baise-en-groupe.net] )

emancipation (2, Insightful)

Millbuddah (677912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211065)

I'm not a big fan of the thought of cameras on street corners watching my actions. In fact, the thought alone gives me the jibblies. However, the recent arrest of the Carlie Brucia kidnapper at least gives some credence to the usefulness of these things. So, if they can be put to good use, I'll deal with the jibblies and pray that the next such kidnapping case doesn't end in such tragedy.

What about the police? (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211121)

Does it worry you that there might be a policeman standing at the street corner watching you? If not, why not? If it does, why?


Personally I think that people like Barry Hugill of the organisation "Liberty", who say things like "CCTV is spying. It's monitoring your every move" should be locked up in mental hospitals and have their severe paranoia treated. If someone wants to watch me walking down the street with my shopping, scratching my arse and picking my nose, then that's entirely fine by me, although I would suggest they find a more productive use of their time. I tend to avoid doing illegal things in public, because anyone could be watching, not necessarily over CCTV.

Re:What about the police? (2, Interesting)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211151)

Does it worry me? Fuck no. I'd PREFER a cop on every street corner watching EVERYONE. Unlike most of the people around here I don't have some sort of paranoid view of cops that says they're all just out to get me. My grandfather was a cop and I've grown up around cops. Believe me, most cops seriously don't give a shit who you are or what you're doing until you commit a crime.

Re:emancipation (1)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211191)

The Brucia case is exactly what came to my mind here. If more cameras would make people think "gee, I'd better not abduct an 11-yr-old from the street because they'll catch me," it sounds pretty good to me.

The downside is that we get to watch this disturbing footage again and again. Same was true last time I was in England and they were showing a car pulling up to a parking space, time passing, and then the car exploding. I just wanted to turn the TV off...

$460 mil Wasted? (3, Interesting)

frank249 (100528) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211067)

If it is not reducing crime, perhaps it would have been wiser to put more police on the streets?

Re:$460 mil Wasted? (2, Insightful)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211105)

Well, I think the crux was they deter some crime (some evidence of displacement, some evidence of removal) - those crimes are more thought through, but they don't stop drunken violence (more than 50% of assaults in the UK are committed by drunk people) or crack addicts as these people are less rational. But even if they don't stop many crimes they make it easier to identify the culprit (as pointed out above).

Re:$460 mil Wasted? (1)

devnulljapan (316200) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211179)

I think the real reason so much emphasis goes on expensive geewizz technological solutions to problems that already have perfectly tenable non-technlogical solutions, and often at the expense of those latter solutions, is that it's a lot easier for the people in charge of those decisons to skim a few million off the top of an overinflated program budget than it is to grab it out of the paycheques of police(wo)men.
This explains all the cash spent on cameras/biometrics etc. - who cares if they work as advertised it's only marketing to put cash in the pockets of the people making the decisions to deploy...oh and by the way let's cut traditional policing.

The problem with the cams is (3, Insightful)

Wunderbar! (741010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211068)

they don't prevent crime, you only get to watch it afterwards.

Re:The problem with the cams is (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211070)

you only get to watch it afterwards

And how exactly is that a bad thing?

Re:The problem with the cams is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211081)

And how exactly is that a bad thing?

Your tragedy makes people watch commercial breaks.

Re:The problem with the cams is (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211156)

There are three options:

1) There are cameras that deter crime and help in solving crimes.

2) There are cameras that do not appear to deter crime but help in solving crimes.

3) There are no cameras neither to deter crime or help in solving crimes.

Now to me it seems obvious that the third option is the worst one. Even if the cameras did not deter crime per se, one can't infer that they are useless or not worth the "trouble" (what trouble?) since video footage most certainly helps to solve crimes.

three different options.. (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211216)

you spend money to:

1) prevent and solve crimes

2) solve crimes

3) accomplish nothing

if by spending the same amount of money (or less) you can accomplish 1 while you are currently only accomplishing 2, then you are at a suboptimal state.

this only considers the monetary aspectes though. many would argue that if 1 and/or 2 violates your civil liberties, then that violation should trump the benefits and 1 and/or 2 should be dropped.

there is the alternative arguement that, if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to loose. this is clearly incorrect, as the article alludes to improper use of the cameras by the athorities. since the athorities are people, corruptible, prone to error, etc., there is no guarantee that the cameras will only be used against the guilty.

many people, myself included, dont really care if they are filmed and put on tv. however, there are quite a few people, who at a minimum, dont want their image placed on the nightly news to be laughed at. this misappropriation is harmless at best.

i think the example cited in the article, the video of a person attempting suicide, is a better example. would you want a video of your father trying to kill himself shown on the nightly news? sure he's not doing anything wrong, but imagine the impact that would have on your family.

there is a balance to be reached, but i think 1 camera for every 14 people is tipping too far away from the rights of the individual.

Re:The problem with the cams is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211075)

you only get to watch it afterwards.

in stunning full colour bluravision

Re:The problem with the cams is (1)

Millbuddah (677912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211080)

True they won't stop the actions of those with the intention of commiting said crimes. However, anything that'll help to solve those crimes and allow justice to be carried out on those who commit those crimes can't be a bad thing can it? You'd think that human evolution would've at least carried us to the point where such measures weren't needed but look at the state of the world.

Re:The problem with the cams is (2)

LordK2002 (672528) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211097)

You'd think that human evolution would've at least carried us to the point where such measures weren't needed but look at the state of the world.
No I wouldn't.

Evolution works by selecting behaviours that are good for the gene, not the species or individual. As crime does not necessarily prevent the criminal from passing on their genes, there is no reason for natural selection to weed out crime.

K

Re:The problem with the cams is (2, Insightful)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211130)

However, anything that'll help to solve those crimes and allow justice to be carried out on those who commit those crimes can't be a bad thing can it?

This is the classic justification for torturing people accused of crimes to obtain a confession. Now, I'm pretty sure you didn't mean it that way, but stop and think about it. Statements just like that have been used to justify police brutality and torture all over the world for centuries.

Re:The problem with the cams is (1)

mrphish697 (219802) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211131)

This actually isn't always true. For example, due to the IRA, certain vehicles are "tagged" for closer inspection. If a car is traveling from the west coast of england and travels straight into London, your car is closely monitored. I don't live in England, so I can't say if this policy actually means anything, but it is a valid example of the proactive use of cameras.

Re:The problem with the cams is (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211167)

And in the Florida case of Carlie Brucia, a luckily placed surveillance camera was the critical evidence in the possible removal of a homicidal predator from the streets -- the camera might not have stopped the crime from happening, but it most certainly will stop future crimes (in 97 this guy was arrested for trying to abduct someone, an a incomprehensible perversion of "reasonable doubt" got him off the hook, and in 2004 he was randomly caught by a luckily placed surveillance camera. How many victims was there between?).

I'm entirely willing to trade some liberty for the safety, primarily of children, from predators.

I dunno... (2, Funny)

Caeda (669118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211077)

I think maybe an armed group of security gaurds wearing shirts that say "You steal, we shoot" Might be more effective. :D Just picture someone begging for their life over a snickers bar when the little door buzzer goes off...

Re:I dunno... (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211116)

but then the criminals find it necessary to always carry guns, even for the most petty crimes, which for the large part now, they don't (in the UK).

So I guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211078)

Orwell's Oceania is upon us already?

Thank God (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211079)

Thank God that I live in America, where we don't have Big Brother looking over our shoulders constantly.

I've written a poem about it -

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

waves the red, white, and blue

Re:Thank God (2, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211091)

Well, you *do* have "Big Brother" looking over your shoulder, all the time. Or perhaps you don't have policemen on the streets where you live?

Re:Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211107)

haha, you honestly think that being an american makes you free? you obviously havent been reading the past couple of years worth of "your rights online" stories on here havent you. Americans are not as free as they used to be. dont suppose youve heard of the DMCA, or the patriot act (even worse that it failed and had to be secretly inserted into "national security" based laws to bypass the people) etc etc. there are alot of countries where the people have more freedoms than you do. It should be a cause for concern. freedom is a right not a privelege.

Re:Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211124)

freedom is a right not a privelege

Yes, but is it a privilege?

Moron.

Re:Thank God (1)

8472 (414458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211168)

Oh please your going to make me sick with that over patriotism. If someone in your family was killed would you decline to use cctv footage because you thought it violated their civil liberties, i think not.

At A Glance (3, Funny)

Matrix2110 (190829) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211083)

Cameras do not deter Crime.

They only drive it underground.

I suggest you check out last years episodes of CSI for example.

In other news.... (-1, Troll)

_Pinky_ (75643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211086)

The Christian Science Monitor is also against cameras as it might capture a glimpse of evolution....

Is it just me or do others have a tough time believing any stories coming from a group which debates modern scientific advances with select counter arguements such as 'intelligent design'???

Do you expect privacy in public places? (5, Insightful)

poszi (698272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211093)

Does anybody expect privacy in public places? You can be watched and photographed by anybody legally in public. Does this surveillance cameras change anything?

Re:Do you expect privacy in public places? (2, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211208)

Surveillance changes things because it is often less visible (some places cameras with significant zoom capability is placed high above street level, and you wouldn't notice it unless you know where to look) than someone taking photos, and because it can contribute to much more extensive tracking of your movements, as well as a potentially permanent record of your activities.

Now, if you're out shopping, it's unlikely to be worth caring about.

But what if you belong to some legal but controversial political group, and someone wants to use the surveillance against you?

What if you purchase a new butchers knife they day before a someone gets killed with one and end up being a suspect because the police decides it's easier to use surveillance than spend time looking for real evidence?

What if your employer happens to see you on surveillance tapes reading about drug rehabilitation and fire you assuming it was for you?

The opportunities for abuse are endless, and while it isn't reason for immediately refusing to accept surveillance, one should be aware that it DOES change the game unless the usage is tightly controlled.

There is a huge difference between surveillance that isn't watched until "after the fact" when investigating a specific crime, for instance, than surveillance where someone is actively following what is happening. Both can be appropriate in the right setting, but the former would make me much more comfortable in most cases.

Street lighting (4, Insightful)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211095)

I don't know if this is the same study, but I recently read that having decent street lighting is more effective than cameras. In addition near where I live they put CCTV on a main busy shopping road. The amount of crime on the road decreased, but all that happened is that it increased in the ajoining side roads.

God help us if democracy fails (5, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211096)

Back in the old days, you had to give the common person power less they rebel against you and cause all sorts of problems for the ruling class. I'm afraid that's all quickly coming to an end. Governments and heads of state will have such powerful technological tools at their disposal to nip any rebellion in the bud. Keylogging tools, surveillance cameras, etc. may all be benign in a democratic, but what about in a 100 years when we are bound to live in a very different kind of world? They very well could become the tools of oppression so many people fear.

I don't like this trend in technology and I don't trust it.

Re:God help us if democracy fails (2, Insightful)

bagel2ooo (106312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211135)

Technology is not a thing that can be only used by the government or the elite ruling class. Technology I think (at least properly used) far more levels the playing field than giving one side a huge advantage/disadvantage. As long as there is inventive spirit and we are permited to walk around with at least moderately advanced technological tools/devices without arising suspicion we will still have a fair playing field.

Re:God help us if democracy fails (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211158)

As long as there is inventive spirit and we are permited to walk around with at least moderately advanced technological tools/devices

You mean a place like North Korea?

Re:God help us if democracy fails (2, Funny)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211160)

So what you're saying is that the Revolution WILL be televised?

Re:God help us if democracy fails (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211184)

It's not rebellion, it's terrorism. Welcome to 2004. :-)

Not Effective (1)

lordrich (647355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211103)

They're not effective in my experience. Just last night at the takeaway the cops came in asking for the cctv footage of a few days ago. The reply? "Sorry, it's done on a rolling basis - we only ever have the past 24 hours".

Then when my mates were mugged, sure they got cctv footage of the victims running away - but nothing of the guys who did it.

How common is street crime in Britain? (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211217)

In the US in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a perception that street crime was on the increase and I think muggings became somewhat common, even in predominantly middle class areas in large cities. The late 80s and very early 90s saw a rise in "carjacking", causing even those who were merely transiting through high-density urban areas to become potential victims.

Since then these phenomnena or at least the reporting seems to have gone down. Personal experience working and visiting New York City and Boston and extensive walking trips at night seems to have backed this up; we never even saw people we'd consider threatening, let alone getting mugged.

Is street crime (muggings, robbery, etc) a more common occurance in middle class areas of Britain?

Where I live... (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211111)

we once had two deliberate fires in one month, and a couple of attempts that didn't suceed. Shortly after we got a few surveillance cameras. Since then we have not had any fires around the building where I live, but then it started happen in different places not very far from here.

Re:Where I live... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211147)

Yeah, I've hardly seen any elephants down my street since I started sprinkling this elephant repellant around. Stands to reason that there must be a causal link.

It's about making people feel safe (4, Insightful)

Lurker McLurker (730170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211114)

A lot of people feel safer if they see cameras in their neighbourhood. They aren't going to do an analysis of the effectiveness of these measures. If the politicians appear to do something that is pro-active in the war against crime, they will receive votes.

This is why "tough" anti-crime policies will always be more common than "liberal" ones. The latter may be more effective, but the former (cameras, mandatory minimum sentences etc.) get the votes.

Re:It's about making people feel safe (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211190)

I've often wondered about that. Who are these mythical voters that elect asshats into power for promising to implement asinine policies? It doesn't seem to be anybody I've talked to...

Northeastern Superbowl Riot Videos (3, Interesting)

ljavelin (41345) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211119)

It turns out that Northeastern University has decided to post pictures of a post-Superbowl riot near the campus of Northeastern University. The intent seems to be to identify the rioters and vandals who destroyed cars and property. It seems that officials at Northeastern believe that the rioters may be somehow affiliated with the university (and few dispute that idea).

As of now, Northeastern's web site only has a couple dozen photographs of vandalism in action [neu.edu] . But they do have videos from nearby video cameras... it may just be a matter of time before they post some video clips.

Clearly these rioters were both stupid and committed crimes, so there's no need to debate the criminal aspects of their activity.

But is it OK for anyone to secretly videotape activities in the street? Is it OK for Northeastern to pin their students based on video and film taken by random observers?

Re:Northeastern Superbowl Riot Videos (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211169)

Is it okay for a witness to a crime to finger a suspect? How is a camera any different, other than that it is much harder to falsify video than it is to make up a story? Please think from point A to point B before posting. Thank you.

Re:Northeastern Superbowl Riot Videos (1)

ljavelin (41345) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211244)

Is it okay for a witness to a crime to finger a suspect? How is a camera any different, other than that it is much harder to falsify video than it is to make up a story?

Exactly my point. How is video different than an eye witness? Is it really no different? Is it hard to falsify a video? Not really.

Would someone falsify a video? It depends, I guess, on the benefit of doing so. Is a photo or picture compromising? Often it is, but you need context for it to have meaning.

Seeing those photos don't tell the whole picture. Was everyone in the photos guilty of a crime? Any of them? I know I can't say that without knowing more details.

1984 is over... (1)

Chriscypher (409959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211122)

London is now known as Air Strip One.

it isn't about stopping crime directly (5, Insightful)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211125)

It's about catching the people who do the crimes AFTER the crime has taken place. I know alot of people (mainly Americans) start saying "Big Brother" at having cameras watching you, but it's really not anything you think about, the people watching you are watching about 30 other screens, and what are they going to see you doing? Walking? Ouch. Now imagine you're walking and you get mugged, now you'll be glad about the cameras who can now have an idea of what the mugger looks like and there's a much greater chance of them being caught. Video surveilance usage is monitored, it's not like the govt is spying on you and keeping tabs trying to get you to part with your tinfoil hat.

Re:it isn't about stopping crime directly (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211172)

The main reason for concern for any technology like this isn't how it is used now. It is how adding surveillance everywhere and making it accepted make it easier for people who wish to abuse power in the future.

Once surveillance is in place the opportunity for abuse is there.

I'm not saying it will happen, or that all surveillance is bad. But it IS important to consider how much power you would be willing to grant government officials, considering that it is not given that a government 10, 20, 50 years down the line will be anywhere near as concerned about how they use the available surveillance infrastructure as the current government wherever you are.

Re:it isn't about stopping crime directly (1)

v01d (122215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211215)

Now imagine you're walking and you get mugged, now you'll be glad about the cameras who can now have an idea of what the mugger looks like and there's a much greater chance of them being caught.

Nope. If the government wants to spend my money, I want them to use it to protect me. The amount of money spent on camera's could have put a lot more police on the streets, and police have a chance of actually stopping crime.

I never see police except on the interstate when they have just pulled someone over for speeding. In the paper I can read about them breaking down the doors of massage parlors suspected of prostitution, but I have never seen (and very rarely heard of) a police officer doing anything to protect (or even help) a person.

I'm an American and cameras sound like a natural extension of lazy police more than anything else.

Re:it isn't about stopping crime directly (1)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211226)

I live in London and over the last 6 months I haven't gone a single day without seeing police officers on the streets. Nearly every time I step out of the house I see their cars, or police walking in pairs up and down the street, and I live in the most outer-zone of London. They're always at trains stations, bus stops, down high streets and on the roads, I don't know how anyone could possibly say there isn't enough cops on the streets.

Different views of privacy (4, Insightful)

rm007 (616365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211140)

I lived in the UK during the 1990s when the installation of these things really took off. It always amazed me that at the time, that the idea of photos on driver's licenses was anathema (and was resisted when it was introduced) but people took relatively little umbrage at the notion of surveillance cameras. Once they were installed, people pointed to the benefits, but I seem to recall news reports over the years to the effect that they merely tended to drive street crime to areas without the cameras i.e. they were effective to a point, but sometimes displaced crime rather than reducing it.

Re:Different views of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211200)

"that the idea of photos on driver's licenses was anathema (and was resisted when it was introduced)"

It was resisted because of the expense to the driver -- current licences are far cheaper to produce. Get your facts straight, troll.

Re:Different views of privacy (2, Insightful)

rm007 (616365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211258)

at the risk of actually being a troll by responding to a troll, I think that you would find that the informed commentary in the media made more frequent reference to the photo being the thin end of the wedge leading towards the introduction of a national ID card than to the expense. Indeed, whenever the idea of a national ID card is mooted, for whatever putative purpose, it is still resisted. Of course, to have seen this, you would have to have been reading the broadsheets not the tabloids.

All the better (4, Interesting)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211142)

Monitoring cameras are not about democracy vs. oppression, they are about eliminating the tragedy of the commons.

Take speeding: when you speed, you save some journey time. When others speed, they endanger your life. Cameras on the road (as seen recently in France) tell individuals "your acts are not cost-free", and so they behave better.

Britain is a pretty sad place to live in, but this has nothing to do with cameras and a lot to do with geography and history. The explosion of cameras in public places may not have eliminated crime, but they appear to have kept it in check, despite rising drug use, increasing poverty in many areas, etc.

I have to vote in favour of the cameras: it's one of those cases where the common need for decent behaviour in public places overrides the individual's right to privacy. I've often thought that in other countries - like Belgium, where I live - surveillence cameras would be a good thing, cutting down on the petty crime: bag theft, broken car windows, men pissing in public, muggings, etc. which make the average citizen feel insecure and end up voting for right-wing parties.

Ironically, better public behaviour is probably better for democracy, not the reverse, since historically extremist governments rise from situations of uncertainty, not from stable societies. Crime waves push people to accepting extreme leaders in the name of law and order.

Re:All the better (0, Flamebait)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211149)

"Britain is a pretty sad place to live in."

And then you say you live in Belgium! hahahah! That's hilarious. Thank you.

Christan Science Monitor? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211143)

How can anyone read that piece of crap paper. The two words, Christian and Science, are mutually exclusive.

Go die fucking christians!

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't (1)

Jezzerr (414452) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211159)

Like most things in life, CCTV works sometimes...for example, many of the little thugs that walk around the streets where i live (Leeds) wear hooded tops with the hoods up and scarfs round their faces to avoid being identified, no matter how good the CCTV footage is it's highly unlikely that the police would catch someone dressed so (and yes they do walk around the city centre like that). Also most of the cameras are in the city centre itself...instead of where its really needed.

However what other alternatives are there? I suppose the only real answer to that is more police on the beat, but with most police officers spending most of their work hours tied up with red tape and paper work its gonna be a long time before that happens.

Re:Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't (1)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211164)

"ike most things in life, CCTV works sometimes...for example, many of the little thugs that walk around the streets where i live (Leeds) wear hooded tops with the hoods up and scarfs round their faces to avoid being identified, no matter how good the CCTV footage is it's highly unlikely that the police would catch someone dressed so (and yes they do walk around the city centre like that). Also most of the cameras are in the city centre itself...instead of where its really needed."

I believe you are describing "rude boys," they exist throughout the country. Still, even when they cover their faces etc it's still possible they'll be caught from what they wear, and often the police know about the local gangs and just walk around and recognise them straight away.

Re:Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't (1)

Jezzerr (414452) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211173)

True, however it takes a matter of minutes to get changed and get rid of the clothes they were wearing....and without any evidence there's little or nothing the police can do.

And i prefer to call them "w*****s" :)

Secure beneath the watchful eyes.... (2, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211166)

Go here [samizdata.net] and tell me that actual poster of the metro police isn't the creepiest thing you've seen in a while.

Crime in London has skyrocketed in the past few years, pretty much because it's illegal to defend yourself with any conviction over there, with any weapon. The state will keep you safe, they say- except they can't.

You're six times more likely [straightistheway.com] to be mugged in London than New York City.

The cameras are a joke on the populus- they live under constant survellience because of the promise it will make them safer, yet there aren't- and can never be- enough police to act on what occurs on and off camera. It's a way for the government and the police to say they're doing something about the crime, instead of actually going out and putting boot to ass- their cops aren't even armed. But the biggest problem is that the citizens are not armed.

The Government of the United Kingdom evidently thinks it's people are an untrustworthy bunch of morons, uncapable of wielding deadly force in a just manner. So they remove every lawful means of defending oneself and one's property, saying they'll protect you instead. Except they can't. They often don't even come afterwards to file the paperwork.

If criminals were made to fear for their lives when they plied their trade, you might see a big drop in crime. But crooks are the only ones with guns, and have nothing to fear from the people they rob- unlike the United States, where in several states, a crook breaking into an occupied home has a good chance of meeting a violent, immediate end, for example.

The cameras are not a panacea, they aren't even a band-aid. The people of the UK are fucked- sheep left to the slaughter of criminals. Good luck over there.

Re:Secure beneath the watchful eyes.... (1)

relrelrel (737051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211188)

The problem is just impotent judicial system, which under the EU means that even if we wanted to actually punish people - we can't - didn't you hear? Europe believes criminals deserve more rights than citizens.

Though sure, a Labour govt is just as wacky as any other left-wing parties, but we're signed up to so many European treaties that even if we got a govt which would punish criminals we couldn't, Europe wouldn't allow it - European courts can overrule UK courts - so you can have some German saying that a paedophile should be able to live next to a school playground in London - and no one in the UK can do anything about it. Ridiculous.

Here comes some continental Europeans to mod me down for speaking the truth...

Don't bash the CS Monitor (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211181)

Although, it's published by a church in Boston, MA, the CS Monitor are published by the "good" kind of Christians and the paper is 99% secular. See this [csmonitor.com] on their web site.

The kind of Christian's we need to watch for are the variety found in Georgia who want to purge the word "evolution" from the curriculum.

London University Security (1)

keyidol (671255) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211195)

As an American currently studying in London, the cameras originally surprised me. On one hand, they seemed like a good idea in preventing, or solving crimes - OTOH, my libertarian minded thought lead me to believe that they would be increasingly used to interfere in the private lives of citizens. Now, most of us have probably heard that London currently upgraded their camera system to allow for OCR'ing license plates to charge for the 'congestion fee' in central London.

Yesterday, however, I found the following paper on my University's Intranet. So far, the student population seems oblivious to it. In short, as of next term, all students will be required to wear ID tags at all times while on campus. I find this particularly ominous as the school is government run and sponsored. Facial recognition technology really doesn't even matter much if we are all forced to wear name tags, hiding under the guise of security. Where will it end?

----------

Introduction of New Access Card System

Summary

*
There is a need to replace the current outdated entry card system
*
This opens the opportunity to improve security arrangements by combining access cards with identity cards for all staff and students.
*
The system will be introduced first at Whitechapel in early 2004 and then at Mile End later by Summer 2004.
*
The system can only be effective in improving safety and security if staff and students are required to wear identity cards when on campus.

1. Background to the Project
During the review of campus security conducted during the last eighteen months, it was identified that the current Schlage access control system, which had been installed 15 years previously, was becoming outdated. Spare parts were difficult to obtain and it was evident that the system would need to be replaced.

A more effective system that has the following features will be introduced as a replacement:

*
'Windows' based, user-friendly and flexible
*
able to run in parallel with the existing good system at Charterhouse Square
*
have the capability to link with the student record system to enable the College to provide a long term plan for ID cards for staff and students.

The ID cards will have the capability of including a 'bar code' for use within the Libraries, a proximity reader capability for use at the Mile End and Whitechapel campuses and also a swipe card capability for Charterhouse Square.

The CCTV equipment will be upgraded, which will allow a link with the access control system and the ability to record pictures digitally. The system specification also calls for the ability to provide additional control access points within the College. Finally there is also a requirement for the upgrade to be able to expand in line with new build, especially the Student Village, and to provide a more secure environment on all campuses.

A tender for a complete upgrade to the system satisfying these specifications was issued and, in early 2003, 'Group 4' was awarded the contract based on price, timing and system specifications. The Multi Max system proposed by 'Group 4', within their tender return, meets all the capability criteria and also offers many other additional beneficial features.

2. Progress to Date
'Group 4' have installed new equipment at Whitechapel. They have been requested to run the new system alongside the existing system and it is intended to switch over the systems during the Summer Vacation 2004.

New control boxes have been installed across the Whitechapel site and we are now awaiting another contractor (EAS) to install the cable for the data points alongside these control boxes. Once this has been done the College will be able to have the main access control system computer linked to all the control boxes and primary tests to the system will commence prior to the system going live. External doors will be activated in Phase One.

Charterhouse Square is already equipped with a compatible system and no further installation work will be necessary on that site.

3. What Happens Next?
We are hoping to advance the project plan by testing and activating Whitechapel early in 2004. A digital camera, the printer and blank access cards with which to produce the new ID cards are in place. The intention will be for all College buildings at Whitechapel, currently controlled under the old system, to go 'live' at once.

Once the Whitechapel campus has been fully tested and is up and running smoothly, the next phase will deal with the Mile End campus. Due to the larger number of buildings and of staff and students at Mile End, the system will be installed and tested building by building. The intention is to issue cards through departments and once completed to go 'live'. It is hoped that this phase will start in April / May 2004, with the whole Mile End campus live by Summer 2004.

4. How Can the New Access System Improve Campus Security?
Although major improvements in security on the Queen Mary campuses have been achieved over the past few years, there are still incidents of theft, especially of equipment. The College has sought to balance the need for security with the aspiration to remain a relatively open institution.

To optimise the new Access system and improve security further it will be necessary to move to a system of ID cards, to be worn at all times when on campus. The majority of large organisations in central London have adopted such a system.

A move to a system of all staff and students being required to wear ID cards in this way would lead to a major improvement in security throughout the College. Security Officers and College staff would be able to instantly determine if an individual was a bona fide member of the College. Cards will be coded to give specific access to particular areas.

The new access control system also has the ability to isolate particular areas within each campus as required; this would enable the Security team to isolate certain areas if there was an incident or emergency.

Both Mile End and Whitechapel campus Security lodges will be equipped with up to date equipment. The Security team will be increased by one at Whitechapel to ensure that the new lodge will be staffed at all times to coincide with the completion of the new Medical School building. The security team will have increased training to improve its capabilities and all security officers will be required to have the new security clearance licence.

5. Conclusion
The new system offers very considerable potential to improve security for staff and students on all Queen Mary campuses. However, its potential can be optimised only if coupled with a system by which staff and students are required to wear their ID cards at all times when on campus. This issue was discussed at the Heads of Department away-day meeting in November 2004 and at the Senior Management Advisory Group in early December and given strong backing by the majority of those present.

Re:London University Security (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211237)

Queen Mary's is only just introducing that system now? I think many UK universities run something similar already. Certainly Imperial, London does - I can't get into my department or library without my ID card. Security does occasional sweeps to check people in the department all have cards. You are meant to carry it at all times on campus.
Departments without it suffer petty crime fairly regularly - mobiles, laptops etc. go missing.

different cultures different reactions (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211196)

If a British man had a camera pointed at him in the street his reaction would be: meh An american on the otherhand is: Hey Honey!!! WE'RE On TEEVEE, its fucking pop idol, Woo Hoo.

Reality TV (1)

UncleBiggims (526644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211198)

It's just a matter of time before the Brits compile the most sensational video into a popular Reality TV show on BBC. Which means that it will be coming to America soon.

Smile! You're on Security Camera.

Are you CORN FED? [ebay.com]

It does stop crime. It keeps installers fed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211206)

I expect to get a contract in next week or so to install about 4 dozen cameras at a business. It'll stop me turning to crime to feed my kids ;)

Hmm, I had heard they were doing a good job. (1)

levell (538346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211224)

I'm not enough of a tin-foil hat to worry about the cameras; they're only in public places. If the cameras aren't working then I guess they should go. I'm sure I've heard statistics (how anecdotal ;) that say they've done a good job. If not I guess I have no more objection to them going away than I did to having them arrive, although I do feel safer if I know they are about.

Not a total waste (1)

darth_silliarse (681945) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211227)

The 4 million plus cameras also provide coach potatoes with something to watch on a Tuesday evening...

Real benefits of CCTV (3, Insightful)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211229)

As a councillor who participates in decisions about deploying these cameras ...

The deterrent effect is debated. However there are some effects which are for real and not open to debate:

(1) When a perp is caught on camera they are more likely to plead guilty and save lots of time and money in the court system. (This is why the court system puts up some of the cost of the cameras.)

(2) People who have been suspected of an offence have been proved not to be guilty by camera footage, thus eliminating the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

(3) The people like the cameras and keep asking for more of them.

And the main benefit:

(4) Fear of crime is reduced.

It's not the level of actual crime that makes little old ladies to frightened to leave their houses in the evening to go to the bingo, it's fear of crime. Sticking up cameras does not reduce the number of little old ladies who are mugged on their way to bingo (because this crime is pretty well non-existent to start with) but it does make the old ladies feel confident to go out, which is a significant improvement in their quality of life.

When I was robbed last Saturday (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211236)

I was robbed last Saturday afternoon in the Tesco supermarket in Eastleigh (Hampshire, England), losing the electric kettle that I'd just bought from another shop (crime #1377/04). Basically I put it down for a minute and it was gone. It only cost about $25, but the same criminal may well go on to steal from hundreds more people.

The crime happened in a shop with security cameras, within a shopping mall with security cameras, within a town centre with more security cameras.

I know when the theft occurred and I gave a description within minutes to representatives of the store, mall and police. I even visited the mall's security centre, with a duplicate of the stolen kettle in an identical bag, and spoke to the staff who watch the video feeds.

Everyone denied having any useful video information and the police representative at their call centre was friendly but dismissive.

I don't know what security cameras are really for, but they don't seem to be useful in fighting crime.

My town was one of the first (in 1985) (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8211248)

I live in a British town that pioneered public CCTV. We were the first at pilot a scheme back in the 80s, and I know a of the people around here, a few council members and some coppers and what their views on this are.

The biggest problem is COST. Some of the cameras are now almost 20 years old, and are starting to show their age. The original 8 million to install them is now 30 or 40 million to replace them all.

Over the years the cost of staffing the monitors, archiving and erasing tapes and so on has also added a huge cost.

So what are the benefits? Well for the most part an increase in solved crimes (convictions). But the argument that you solve more crime by being aware of more crime is an odd one. Largely its petty vandalism, common assault (street fights) and crap like that. Their value in combatting serious crime or terrorism is very low, in 20 years I cannot a single serious crime solved in this town directly due to CCTV evidence - I might be wrong, but surely I would remember _one_.

When the cameras first went up the town was very split over it. Many cameras were smashed and crime _against_the_cameras_ actualy went up for a while. After that people kinda got used to them. The truth is that very few of them are actually switched in anymore, you can see from the rusty water bleeding from their sides and the fact that no LEDs are active on them anymore.

The network is slowly falling apart. I see the same job for 'surveilence observer' at $6/hour offered every week and no takers.

It was an interesting experiment. For a while we all felt safer and petty street crime fell, but now we are left with a dilapidated system that will cost millions to update/replace and very few
real convictions as a result of it.

Spending that money on putting some more coppers on the street would have been a lot better.

Westminster Council (3, Interesting)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8211259)

I think Westminster's system is one of the most effective. Their area covers some very high crime areas (leicester square, oxford circus). They claim a 51% decrease in street crime and a 12% increase in crime clearup rates after installing a vast CCTV system.
It's mainly used to better target the limited number of police available - it's not just about deterrence and after-the-fact clear up , it's well enough integrated and implemented that they can spot pickpockets and muggers as they move in to commit a crime and direct nearby police to arrest them.
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