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10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the clearly-we-need-more-cameras dept.

Privacy 414

Mike writes "London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million but an analysis of the publicly funded spy network has cast serious doubt on its ability to help solve crime. In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average. The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any. Could this be an effective argument against the proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?"

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The answer is... (5, Insightful)

llamalad (12917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691113)

Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.

Re:The answer is... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691227)

10,000 not effective eh? lets add 3 zero's onto that! 10,000,000 CAMERAS! haha, try and hide from me now, citizen!

Re:The answer is... (1)

akijikan (994811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692041)

Put a 1 and two zeros in front of that, or we walk!

ignore the facts and press ahead. (0)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691251)

How does it become fact prior to their discovery it's a failure? It was an attempt not a certainty. You are implying that you knew it was going to not work prior to this revelation and now your right. Well the universe doesn't work like that.

Had it worked then the 200 million pounds paid out would have been well spent. Perhaps there are ways to make it work however I must admit I doubt it. You may be able to track back though the logged video and the time and place of an event and what happened prior & afterward. However you might end up getting the time wrong and following the wrong person from camera to camera.

Well that's life.

Re:ignore the facts and press ahead. (5, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691299)

Yes that's how science works.

Hypothesise at random, spend a wad or two on well-connected suppliers and contractors, in the absence of empirical validation of the utility or necessity.

Then declare on failure to achieve any result at all that one has now acquired a valid data point.

Hmmm.... Better try this again, with a different type of camera! Then - at worst - we'll have eliminated two possibilites, at the bargain cost of 400 Million!

GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD! Crime is the excuse used to end dissent. If there were political protest of any size, you can bet the participants would have all been ID'd and added to the "terror" database.

V for Vendetta.

Cameras don't deter criminals. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691353)

Exactly. The only people who have anything to worry about from the cameras are the "law abiding" people who do not support the current government and are willing to be seen protesting.

Re:Cameras don't deter criminals. (1)

frup (998325) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691527)

I for one would wear a mask/belaclava if confronted by this problem in my country.

Re:ignore the facts and press ahead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691321)

How does it become fact prior to their discovery it's a failure? It was an attempt not a certainty. You are implying that you knew it was going to not work prior to this revelation and now your right. Well the universe doesn't work like that.

Actually, the universe does work like that (in other words: it was not working all this time, ergo it was failing all this time), but setting that aside, the people who pointed out repeatedly that cameras would fail to discourage crime had given reasonable arguments as to why they would fail to work, and those arguments were generally either ignored or dismissed with cries somewhat akin to "but my nephew's security company insists that their camera will stop all crime in a 50 mile radius! You dare impugn my family's good name?!"

Even over the past few years as cases of people being filmed stealing the cameras itself, making faces at the camera, etc. and still being uncaught took the spotlight, it should have been a hint that the idea that survellience states can convince enough people that survellience is scary and everyone must be on their utmost best behavior at every instant of the day was not as sound as the proponents might believe. Every cry of "if you aren't doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear" undermines their own agenda, even as the watchers declare it their battle cry and anthem.

Re:ignore the facts and press ahead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20692047)

> You are implying that you knew it was going to not work prior to this revelation and now your right. Well the universe doesn't work like that.

The scientific universe doesn't work like that. The political universe, on the other hand, does.

Let's segue away from the surveillance industry and ponder an industry that everyone here should understand: the music/movie industriy.

How many dozens of RIAA/MPAA-sponsored (read: DRM-locked, computer-locked, time-bombed) business models for online distribution have been tried, only to come up as complete failures in contrast to DRM-free MP3s, which is the only business model any of the customers actually wants?

Every time RIAA tries something wrong, it fails. It's designed to fail. Every failure is something they can point to and say "See, politicians? All you have to do is lock down teh Intarweb and everything would be fine!"

Back to the surveillance industry:

If you're in the business of keeping a broken business model afloat, the one thing you don't dare try is something that might work.

Re:The answer is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691329)

Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.
The politicians aren't ignoring the facts. These cameras weren't bought to fight crime. That is only how they were sold.

Re:The answer is... (2, Interesting)

tburkhol (121842) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691477)

Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.

Let's not pretend this behavior is limited to politicians. In my experience, most people, presented with a sound, logical argument having no supporting facts (or even counter-evidence) and a farfetched argument supported by great detail, will prefer the logical argument. People like for things to make sense more than they like them to be true.

Re:The answer is... (1)

krashnburn200 (1031132) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691501)

Ignore facts? you assume they care about solving crimes, If they are for some other use, then obviously these numbers mean nothing.

Many around here ignore facts as well ... (5, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691505)

Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.

Many around here misrepresent and ignore facts as well. That and they have emotional poorly thought out reactions that are rooted more in their politics than it logic. Note the statement:

"The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any."

If you apply a modest amount of logic it might occur to you that everything seems to be described in terms of percentages. The fact the percentages may be similar does not mean cameras are ineffective. What is the volume of crime? The absence of such info should make an unbiased reader quite suspicious. Also what were the volumes before the cameras? One of the stated goals of the camera systems is that they would be a deterrent. The volume of crime could be a fraction of pre-camera days and the percentage of solved crimes could be the same.

Re:Many around here ignore facts as well ... (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691895)

That is correct, one of the things which cameras tend to do, is to push crime to other areas where there are no cameras.

The other thing is that if people know that there are a huge number of cameras, they are more likely to where hats or utilize other means of being hard to id with cameras.

I haven't seen the images that the cameras capture, but the images I see from bank robberies and similar when the FBI releases them, are usually grainy and difficult to make out what the person looks like. Good if you want to be incognito as it makes it more difficult to identify scars and such, bad if you want the public to find the person.

The main thing that a camera system is good at doing is tracking people. And while that is a huge security problem, it can be beneficial to people that have been accused of a crime falsely, as it makes for an easier alibi.

Overall, though the results don't seem that much different than what one might expect. Even the definition of a below average number of crimes being solved seems a bit tough of a sell, as there really isn't such thing as an average crime, each crime tends to be somewhat different than the others, it could very well be that the dumber criminals moved out, and the smarter ones moved in because of less competition from other criminals for targets.

yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691791)

Australia spent $500 million to buy guns from law abiding citizens and it has had no effect on violent crime in that country. The bikie's and other criminals still have access to illegal arms, so nothing has changed much for them. In fact, some of the guns that were confiscated during the 'buy back' were later sold to criminals instead of being destroyed.

The longer, more accurate answer is... (5, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691953)

... the people simply ignore the facts, and politicians cash in on their fears about crime on the streets.

Could this be an effective argument... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691115)

"Could this be an effective argument against the proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?"

Was that a rhetoric question?

Re:Could this be an effective argument... (3, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691471)

Was that a rhetoric question?

What do you think?

Re:Could this be an effective argument... (4, Funny)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691575)

"What do you think?"

Is that a rhetorical question?

My first thought (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691131)

"They must have some crappy cops"

Re:My first thought (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691169)

No, this just means people must be stealing the cameras.

Re:My first thought (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691221)

They just need a better system. Right now, they're running the video through a 'youtube' filter, so the video's downsampled and compressed to hell, so everyone looks like Elmer Fudd. But, the system is backwards compatible to work with Windows 95!

And they also need speakers, so when they view the live video, and they see someone commit a crime, like say, jaywalking, they can order the offender to stop and wait for a bobby to come and arrest them. Or, if they look trustworthy, to walk to the nearest police station and turn themselves in.

Of course, this is meant to be funny, but if a politician reads it, they might think it's insightful [unfortunately]...

Re:My first thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691593)

Re:My first thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691609)

Right now, they're running the video through a 'youtube' filter, so the video's downsampled and compressed to hell, so everyone looks like Elmer Fudd.

It doesn't help that the system is designed to honour DMCA takedown requests. As soon as the criminals get home they fire off an email and the video gets removed. Watkins v You've Been Framed set the precedent that as the only human in the video, the star has overall copyright on what is filmed.

Bad statistics. (5, Insightful)

solafide (845228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691133)

"In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average." All this suggests is that those boroughs have a lot of crime, and as a result extra security cameras were installed. It would be unwise to judge the efficacy of security cameras based on these statistics alone, since surely the very reason the cameras are there is because those areas are already predisposed to crime?

is the first comment by RandomVisitor on the story at Bruce Schneier's blog [slashdot.org] . It's really quite true; we can't judge based on these statistics whether it's working or not.

Re:Bad statistics. (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691167)

Corrected link: Schneier's blog [schneier.com] . That'll teach me not to use Preview.

Yes (1)

Simple-Simmian (710342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691141)

"....will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?" Yes they will

Camera proponents spin it both ways (4, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691147)

A drop in crime is evidence that the cameras work.

An increase in crime is evidence that more cameras are necessary.

three ways... (4, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691337)

A drop in crime is evidence that the cameras work. An increase in crime is evidence that more cameras are necessary.

You forgot one: "unchanging crime levels mean the cameras kept crime from getting worse, and removing them would mean an explosion of crime." It'd be like firing cops; no politician who wants to keep his or her office would dare do it, even if it a sound decision. The slightest crime, and victims will blame the official, and the press will be more than happy to stick the microphone in front of their face while they do it.

The MBTA (which shockingly reversed its decades-old policy of prohibiting cameras on MBTA property) had been going nuts installing "high resolution digital cameras" around the system. Not anywhere on the platforms, mind you- but at the fare gates.

They blew a lot of smoke to the two competing pulp-journalism freebies (Metro and "Boston Now", which litter the system) about how great the cameras were, how they'd catch anyone jumping fares, etc. Grabauskas bragged about the "high resolution" cameras, and both rags printed images of a guy kicking a gate in (yep. They're that weak- a decent kick will take them out of commission.) The photo was embarassingly bad- you could barely tell it was a guy, and barely ID what he was wearing. The image was low-resolution, blurry, over-compressed, and full of noise.

Oh, and they didn't seem to help when two kids shot up another kid on the Orange line (the MBTA police's response was to transfer the entire trainload of passengers onto busses and hold them for pat-down searches. This was despite witnesses repeatedly stating that the two shooters immediately fled the scene and left the station. They still haven't been found, months later.)

Also, if you're in North Station on the platform for outbound, take a look at the couple of cameras situated at the end of the platform closest to the "Garden". You'll note one is a FLIR camera, pointed into the tunnel. What the hell for?

North Station is also where the MBTA police regularly conduct forced "screenings", usually during rush-hour. For those who don't know: North Station is where people transfer from the orange/green lines to the commuter lines to get home. The MBTA police, like complete idiots, park their vehicles up in front of the station (which is a giant "hey, there's a "random search" thing going on here!" sign), and then stop people trying to get home (where missing a train can mean you don't get home for another 1-2 hours or more.)

Re:Camera proponents spin it both ways (3, Insightful)

Zeio (325157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691685)

They take our rights away slowly. First it was less guns less crime. (cities with effective gun bans are the worst in crime, see DC and Chicago.)

Now its more cameras, less crime.

10-15 years, there will be no rights here.

Re:Camera proponents spin it both ways (1)

gvc (167165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691717)

Opportunistic analogy. If you look beyond the U.S. borders you will find plenty of jurisdictions that have gun control and low crime. Not to concede your cherry-picked U.S. examples. The bottom line is that you need to study up on the difference between correlation and causality.

Re:Camera proponents spin it both ways (1)

Aczlan (636310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691979)

please provide a reference to back up your statement.

Re:Camera proponents spin it both ways (1)

G-funk (22712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692051)

That, and it's pretty well known that road deaths have increased in most places in england with boatloads of speeding cameras, and decreased where there aren't any. Do you think big brother's interested in that either?

I dont see the point in arguing effectiveness (5, Insightful)

Pizaz (594643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691163)

Once you start arguing effectiveness then all it takes is a new study to show that it's still promising technology and that it just needs to be continued/improved/advanced/made more comprehensive/etc.

Dont fall into the trap of arguing the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of something that we already know has nothing to do with crime.

Effectiveness would increase prevention (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691815)

The story summary is that the cameras do not prevent crime - well of course they do not, nothing you do with an 80% failure rate is going to have an effect on anything.

That is why the question is, why are they not effective? Does it turn out you simply can't solve crime by having cameras everywhere that see who did it? If so, remove the cameras. Is there a reasonable plan to greatly increase effectiveness? If so, implement it and make sure to set some sort of measurements to see it is working.

Myself I am skeptical the cameras can ever really help that much. But, effectiveness is key to argue to see if they should be kept or not.

Re:I dont see the point in arguing effectiveness (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692025)

Yes but if you stop arguing effectiveness, it looks an awful lot like putting your fingers and saying loudly "I know they're bad! I'm not listening to you! Lalalalala!"

In other words, don't stop arguing effectiveness. Simply ignoring evidence is a recipe for getting trampled over.

Great job (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691179)

I recall a reporter visiting one of these "control rooms" where all the camera feeds are fed to. She recalls seeing a number of men/boys zooming in on cute girls to pass the otherwise boring time.

Not surprising... these things are pointless.

My Comment (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691195)

In the summary there isn't really any evidence that this stuff isn't working, especially when the only statistic is this one:

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average

Wouldn't the areas with higher crime-rates have more cameras in the first place? The real question that should be asked is whether or not the crime rate has gone down in those areas. Now, I'll admit that I've only read the summary, but it should be safe to assume that the summary will contain the most important statistics, meaning that it is also safe to assume that the article is full of more statistics just like that one.

Re:My Comment (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691547)

No you need to RTFA.

It is not about if there are lower crime rate in areas with more cameras.
It is about whether or not the cameras helped in solving crimes.
In the grand scheme, both would really go hand in hand. If they are not helping solve crimes how could they prevent them?
It was also about whether the cost (200 million pounds) was worth it. I'm not up on money conversion but I think that could have paid for a lot of more proven and effective measures then cameras that don't seem to help much!

Dangerous Assumptions (3, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691647)

You only quoted part of the statement:

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average. The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

I agree with you that the first sentence is meaningless in assessing the effectiveness of the cameras but the second is not. The cameras are supposed to deter crime by making it easier to catch the criminals. If the latter is not the case then they will not act as a deterent. Of course to know this you would want to understand a lot more: does the amount of crime mke it harder to catch the criminals? Is this statistic based on the fraction or absolute rate of crimes solved? etc.

Now, I'll admit that I've only read the summary, but it should be safe to assume that the summary will contain the most important statistics

I agree that it should be safe to assume this but given that the writer of the summary has clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding of relevant statistics it is clearly not a safe assumption in this case!

Same problem that surveillance has always had. (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691197)

When you gather that much footage, what do you look at? Unless the brits are ready hire a veritable army of people to scan through the video, they'll have to pick and choose what's important enough to look for. The 7/7 bombings were, daily muggings aren't.

-jcr

Re:Same problem that surveillance has always had. (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691289)

If you have a specific crime report, why not? Obviously the notion of someone going through countless hours of footage looking for drug deals or something is outrageous, but if someone reports a mugging in an area covered by the cameras, sure, look at the relevant footage for evidence.

I'm a card-carrying ACLU type, but given proper oversight and rules for their use, I really don't have a problem with police cameras in public places. If the government is abusing them in a creepy Big Brother fashion, you're already fucked.

Interesting but useless (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691205)

The study (or at least what was published in this article) says nothing about the rate of crimes solved before the cameras. The study doesn't talk about other issues like police force funding Nothing about the demographics of each borough. So while it may be true that cameras don't stop crime or help to solve it, there is nothing in this article to support that assertion.

So, ask law enforcement. (2, Insightful)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691535)

If you search BBC for CCTV, what you find is nothing favorable. Law enforcement figures consistently say the money would be better spent on normal police work. Studdies never show a real decrease in crime. Demographics don't matter because the cameras are everywhere.

The only reasonable conclusion is that the cameras are not really about crime.

Re:Interesting but useless (1)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692019)

So while it may be true that cameras don't stop crime or help to solve it, there is nothing in this article to support that assertion.
Actually, the statistics that the article cites DO support the assertion, but the support is weak, for the reasons you cite. This may seem pedantic, but even weak evidence shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Instead, it should be evaluated as weak, and serve as the background for further research.

on another hand.. (5, Insightful)

zome (546331) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691223)

The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

on another hand, if I want to do crime, I wouldn't want to do it in place that has hundreds of cameras.

If the cameras help reducing crime rate, then they work.

on another connection.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691281)

"on another hand, if I want to do crime, I wouldn't want to do it in place that has hundreds of cameras."

Coming to a P2P user near you.

Re:on another hand.. (1)

JohnLowHanger (1042630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691763)

Wear a hoodie.

Please dont let logic get in the way (1)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691229)

"Could this be an effective argument against the proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?"

hm...

Well, like Archie Bunker said: "Stop confusing me with facts!"

Come on people: don't you see this is for your protection against Terrorists?
Also, please think of the children!

10,000 Cameras Ineffective (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691241)

why am i not surprised...

- js.

Re:10,000 Cameras Ineffective (1)

internetcommie (945194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691395)

Cameras don't prevent crimes; video games do! ... why did I suddenly get the feeling I said something wrong?

perception & reality (4, Insightful)

wes33 (698200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691243)

The point of these cameras is not to make people safer, but to make people *feel* safer. Last I heard, the Brits love the things ...

Re:perception & reality (3, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691719)

I'm English and I for one do not love these things. I feel I need a tin foil hat every time I go on a street and would really rather avoid constantly being on camera (I suppose I'm rather paranoid). It is not that we want them, it is that we have no choice in the matter. Even if we stand up and say no, we get ignored. The politicians don't care what people want and are too busy focusing on Global warming and "British values" currently to even bother worrying about this.

Cameras = Seem a solution = People vote for them to "solve crime"

Re:perception & reality (1)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691801)

The point of these cameras is not to make people safer, but to make people *feel* safer. Last I heard, the Brits love the things ...

No, the point of this is to let the politicians have another way to spy on their opponents, so that they will stay in power.

DT

Poor analysis (4, Insightful)

Andrew Aguecheek (767620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691261)

The cameras are not there to catch criminals, but to deter them. Those who would otherwise be committing crimes in full catchable view of the cameras are no longer doing so.

Don't get me wrong, I like my privacy as much as the next /.er but accuracy is important.

Re:Poor analysis (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691419)

All the evidence shows that people are quite happy to do so because the cameras are such poor quality that you can't even get a face off them.

It's simply not easy to make a cheap camera that can give sufficiently hi-res and in-focus results.

Re:Poor analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691555)

and not simple and/or cheap to store for an arbitrary length of time.

Re:Poor analysis (4, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691919)

If this really is true, we could easily prove or disprove it. First, make a map of street crimes before cameras. Then, make a map of street crime after cameras. The 'after' map should show holes where no street crime is occurring. These crimeless holes should match up exactly with a map of camera coverage.

Furthermore, I won't buy arguments that cameras deter crime generally because criminals don't know where cameras are, so they simply stop committing crimes all around. Criminals, though they risk injury and imprisonment in their chosen profession, really aren't stupid. They are clever like a fox -- they find 'safe' areas to prowl and pick 'marks' to target. If they know a camera is in the area, they will avoid it. If you ever doubt that criminals are clever and crafty, overhear a conversation amongst drug dealers and buyers. They know the ins and outs of reasonable search, suspicion, evidence, punishment, and mandatory sentencing.

"Well, if they are so smart and they know so much about the law, then why do they get caught?" They know ( and learn -- sometimes the hard way ) the risks, and they willingly take them. Getting caught is part of the game. It's like asking, "If investors know so much about finance, why would they ever lose money?" Criminals view it as part of the system. You win some, you lose some. Time in prison is seen by many young black men as part of growing up. Sooner or later, you are going to do time.

Re:Poor analysis (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20692013)

Now the "not to solve, but to deter" is definately the spin of the pro-cctv crowd, but are the cameras actually effective at detering crime? If so, the number of crimes committed would be lower in areas with a high density of cctv cameras than areas with a low densitiy of cctv cameras.

So what do the numbers actually say? Is the crime rate lower, or does the uk just have more footage for the television special "Crime Caught on Tape?"

Drumroll please....

From a BBC report: [bbc.co.uk] dated August 3, 2002:

A report by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) which was based on Home Office research, revealed that of 24 studies carried out in city centres, only 13 showed crime had fallen since CCTV cameras were installed.

Crime rates rose significantly in four other cities.

Rachel Armitage, of Nacro's crime and social policy unit, said the cameras' effectiveness is often "over-stated".


So there's your answer. While not completely ineffective, it is not nearly as effective as it is often touted. So now the question is: "Could the money that has been spent on creating and maintaining the cctv networks have been spent on a combination of other, less invasive, methods to achieve an equal, or perhaps even lower, crime rate?"

I leave that for an exercise for the reader. If you happen to be politician, staffer, or anyone employed in the public policy arena, this exercise is manditory.

They will ignore it (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691293)

Because they are stupid - or they would not be politicians. Just look at the ongoing mess they create!

Confusion (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691323)

Don't confuse the politicians with facts, they have demagoguery to accomplish.

Seriously, when did "facts" actually figure into politics. Everything is emotion. "Its for the children", "War on _______", "help the homeless" etc are all emotional stimuli.

Doesn't mean a thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691325)

You can't make a judgement on the effectiveness of the cameras without asking more questions. The Liberal Democrats are just peddling their usual head in the clouds crap about a "repressed" Britain so they look like they're the sole defenders of "freedom". However you look at it, without more science this is just self-serving politics. These guys need to grow up and stop being assholes, and Slashdot needs to start asking what the truth really is instead of fapping itself on something that just fits with its own knee-jerk prejudices.

There's times when I can really appreciate how some "dictatorships" get in a real piss with America and human rights organisations poking their nose in. Britain has really serious problems with corporate asset strippers and social breakdown, and if cameras are part of the mix to instill a more discipline and social sensitivity in people then there's nothing wrong with that. As with taking down the military guard towers in Northern Ireland, when the threat recedes it's likely they'll be removed. It's something called proportion. Look it up.

It takes a lot of people to sift through that film (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691355)

10,000 cameras is a whole lot of boring dead air on film in order to find one case of someone committing a crime. Chances are, too, most people know where the cameras are, and are careful to do things out of clear sight. It takes a whole lot of people a lot of time to go through that much tape and not miss anything. I'd have thought most folks would have learned all that by now.

Police (5, Insightful)

photomonkey (987563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691363)

Given the assumption that not all cops are bad, and going further saying that most cops are good, the solution to the crime problem is to get police back on foot in communities.

You can only stop so much crime blowing through an arterial road at 45mph. But regularly patrolling an area on foot, a good cop will notice that "Mrs. Allison's car is gone, and the front door is wide open" prompting a closer look.

Also, foot patrol (or bicycle, rollerblade, whatever) cops aren't generally tied up with traffic stops and other non-criminal events. They are free to stop the little crimes (graffiti, vandalism, burglary) that scare off the 'good' folks allowing seedier elements to take over an area.

But, cops on foot are expensive. And you need a lot of them to be effective. And since they're going after criminals, they're not making the city any money in the form of tickets and fines.

There are some jobs best done by real humans on location. Maybe your board meeting with the Beijing office can be done via teleconference, but protecting residents and preventing crime cannot.

TFA should've read ,,, (0, Offtopic)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691371)

1 CCTV camera solves 100% of the crimes it records
The article argues,the money could be better spent on more police. Do you think the police would even investigate the pickpocket crime the article depicts had it not been on video?
Why are they using CCTV? Kind of expensive. How about crapload of folding@home cameras.
Imagine a beowulf cluster of them!
p.s. in the U.S. you could make a law that requires police to carry cameras instead of tasers. There. Now I've done it.

follow the money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691391)

I work for a defence contractor who makes lots of money from items like this. In the states, Raytheon made red-light cameras and made a bundle (but eventually had to sell the business). There is a lot of money spent on non-useful tech like this and money not well spent on programs that actually need it. So long as the money is available (like some of the DHS funds), it will be spent.

Was there crime before the invention of the phone? Before the invention of the computer? Before the invention of the video camera? How were crimes solved 10, 20, or 50 years ago? Technology aids in solving crimes but it is not the solution, even if we become a surveillance society.

There's a certain presumption ... (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691393)

10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime

... that criminals are incapable of changing their tactics/habits, and that having cameras simply makes it impossible for them to work. That's just not true: criminals will adapt to changing circumstances and will find new ways to achieve their nefarious ends. Cameras merely change the face of crime, they don't eliminate it.

I'd like to know if crime rates.. (3, Funny)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691405)

I'd like to know if crime rates have gone up due to the cameras being stolen!

Hollywood lied! (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691437)

I wonder how much of this has to do with the misconception that somebody can use Photoshop to extract a high resolution image from a crappy CCD cam.

Efficiency? (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691481)

The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.
What types of crimes are they not able to solve with the cameras? Pocket thieves are probably really difficult to spot. But what about vandalism, sex offenders, robberies and other things where you can point to a specific location and the time of the event?

Or could the cameras simply suck? I remember the London subway bombings and the pictures they released of the men who blew themselves up. Didn't the pictures look like they were taken with a teenager's private web cam? Maybe they should opt for one 1,000 high-def cameras instead then.

Re:Efficiency? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691889)

What types of crimes are they not able to solve with the cameras?

      Theft of those very cameras? I know, low blow, but I couldn't resist.

Nothing to do with crime (0, Flamebait)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691493)

Anyone who thinks the cameras have anything to do with deterring crime are fooling themselves. They're meant as a means to control the populace and nothing more.

Re:Nothing to do with crime (5, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691627)

They're meant as a means to control the populace and nothing more.
The cameras aren't there to control. They're there to corrupt. They make people trust each other less. Why would all those cameras be there, if all these other people weren't dangerous the moment the authorities take their eyes off them? Once you start not trusting anyone, believing that they're basically all against you, it becomes much easier to ignore their well being, even to engage in occupations and activities which take advantage of them in ways you wouldn't if mutual trust were established. But you can't trust these people. They're people who need to be watched. And now they're people who need to watch out for you.

The cameras, you see, destroy the socialist impulse, and turn Londoners into the perfect model of predatory capitalists. Which is a great joke, since London has a self-styled socialist mayor.

Re:Nothing to do with crime (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691709)

Anyone who thinks the cameras have anything to do with deterring crime are fooling themselves. They're meant as a means to control the populace and nothing more.

What is "deterring crime" but simply a goal of controlling the populace? Isn't policing a form of population control? And, if cameras are ineffective at reducing crime, doesn't that imply that they would be equally ineffective at other forms of population control?

Re:Nothing to do with crime (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691715)

Anyone who thinks the cameras have anything to do with deterring crime are fooling themselves.
They're meant as a means to control the populace and nothing more.
You are so off base with that remark!!!
Why don't you show some respect for the people taking care of us!!!
The cameras are also great for watching naked women. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Nothing to do with crime (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691851)

They're meant as a means to control the populace and nothing more.

      Please elaborate.

      If by "controlling the populace" you mean increasing adherence to the law, then in effect you are deterring crime. However a camera won't force you to go to church on Sundays or turn you into a philanthropist, or file your tax return on time.

Facts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691541)

Since when was this about facts?

it's the deterrent factor not for solving crimes (1)

wmain (636792) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691543)

The cameras are in place as a deterrent to criminals. They are not primarily in place to affect the solving of crimes. If someone is determined to perform a criminal act then no deterrent will work. This is evident just by examining the ratio of crime verses penalties throughout history.

10,000 videos (2)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691545)

Would you look through 10,000 videos to find the guy that stole a car between 10PM and 6am on friday/saturday? Just because we can collect a stupid amount of data doesn't mean it's entirely useful.

Re:10,000 videos (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691613)

No, but I might look at the video from the camera that was pointed at the yet-to-be-stolen car that night.

Re:10,000 videos (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691625)

Moral of the post... don't post after that much beer...

Re:10,000 videos (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691833)

No, but I might look at the video from the camera that was pointed at the yet-to-be-stolen car that night.

You can get the plate number!

Ironic (1)

biggerboy (512438) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691551)

That London has basically a Communist mayor (but Labour in name) and the self-proclaimed center of liberalism here in San Francisco is looking to add more of these cameras. Why is it the left-wing areas leading the way here? I thought the Republicans were the enemy of my rights.

Re:Ironic (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691637)

the political spectrun isn't linear. it's circular. extreme right and extreme left overlap.

Re:Ironic (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691887)

That London has basically a Communist mayor (but Labour in name) and the self-proclaimed center of liberalism here in San Francisco is looking to add more of these cameras. Why is it the left-wing areas leading the way here?I thought the Republicans were the enemy of my rights.

It depends on whose friends are selling the cameras, and also the voting district where their employees live.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691567)

I noticed one glaring omission from the statistics listed in the article: what was the rate of unsolved crimes before the cameras were installed? That information would seem to be a requirement for any study concerning the effectiveness of the cameras.

Re:Lies, damn lies, and statistics (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691823)

I actually went to their website (as horrible as it is), and for some reason I couldn't see any reference to the data (or even to their claims) anywhere on the site.

I think this is the usual case of "lets make bogus claims that support our political agenda, since no one will bother to get their own copy of the data to prove us wrong". Fairly striking was the fact that they admitted the neighborhood with the highest number of cameras showed the smallest crime rate. Perhaps we could assume that the crime rate wasn't always this low, which is why so many damned cameras were installed in the first place...

big US cities (0, Offtopic)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691573)

there are some bad ghetto neighborhoods in big US cities even the cops don't dare go in to...

Well gee what a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691667)

Cameras are only as good as the people (numbers and training) watching them and computers can't provide a magic bullet to fill the gap? I'm speechless. Who woulda thunk it?

Are they effective at helping getting convictions? (1)

KidSock (150684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691689)

Maybe they do not help in deterring crime but I wonder if they help get convictions. If you catch a purse napper it's hard for him to say that he just found it in the garbage if they have him on video forcefully taking it from her.

I don't mind the cameras so much... (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691711)

There's very little I hate more than fucking hit-and-run drunk drivers that I've seen ended many good people's life with their irresponsibility. They are no worse than murderers, IMO. Here in Singapore, we have quite a few hit-and-run incidents that were solved thanks to such cameras on our expressways. Loss of privacy? A very small price to pay for catching and deterring drunk drivers.

Fucking drunk drivers.

Re:I don't mind the cameras so much... (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691797)

Yes, it would help catch, but not deter. One who has decided to get into a car and drive home while clearly intoxicated will hardly care about the cameras. That same lack of thinking is what made that person get in the car and drive in the first place.

Re:I don't mind the cameras so much... (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691995)

Here in Singapore, we have quite a few hit-and-run incidents that were solved thanks to such cameras on our expressways.

And even if the drunks don't hit anybody, they'll forget to stop chewing their gum while driving past cameras on the expressway.

Have we learned anything yet?... (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691787)

No. Continue to destroy civil liberties.

The OTHER part of the report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691799)

...states that they have been *highly* effective at detecting cleavage. This may have something to do with who's manning said cameras.

James Bulger (1)

BayaWeaver (1048744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691813)

Without the CCTV footage, the police wouldn't have had any leads to work with in the James Bulger [wikipedia.org] case. There is this horrible case in Malaysia [nst.com.my] right now where CCTV has provided some some clues. There are plenty more cases where CCTV has helped. Maybe you have experienced yourself in your workplace. Something goes missing and you ask around and everyone shrugs their shoulders. But CCTV recording reveals very clearly who dun it!

Oh, boy! Lies, damn lies, and statistics! (1)

jordandeamattson (261036) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691831)

This article is an incredibly juicy example of lying with facts...it is like shooting fish in a barrel, which has been drained of water :-)

I just wish I had more time to dig into it and address it in totality...

Ok, here are a few issues:

Confusing prevention and solution
The argument for CCTV is that it helps prevent and solve crimes, but the only statistics presented here concern the solution of crime. We don't have any comment on the crime rates (and the mix of crimes committed) prior to cameras or in comparing area to area.

For example, I understand that the UK, like the US, has criminalized a wide range of activities in the last few years. So we need to account for this fact.

No correlation between area and camera coverage (or population)
Nothing tells me about the number of cameras per person or per square meter. All I get is that this area has 1,500 cameras, this area 575. I have no way to compare coverage to closure rates.

No examination of demographics, closure rates, and crime rates
Even as a Yank, I know that several of the areas listed as having few cameras are as my Brit friends would put it, "Posh". What do I know about the others? Nothing, but I need to know to do a reasonable analysis.

Yours,

Jordan

Waste of money (3, Interesting)

NetNed (955141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20691845)

In the situations that these cameras are used it is a waste of money. They do not deter criminals, they just make the public feel watched and untrusted. To think other wise is to give yourself a false sense of security.

I have a buddy that owns a local restaurant with 16 cameras installed in and outside the building. They are good to dispel employees steeling or goofing off at the wrong times but if you don't know the person before hand they are useless.

Example: my buddy rides his bicycle to work 2 or 3 time a week for exercise. He leaves it next to the dumpster between that and a 8 foot high brick enclousre.
The one day he goes out to make his ride home and find the bike missing.So he plays back the tapes (dvr or dvd back-ups) to see the time the guy steels the bike.
It was worthless because you can make out who it is other then it was a older guy.

Getting a good shot seemed to be the key, which would be hard with a unmanned camera.

Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20691869)

I will quote the words of an antique store worker who was describing the stores aging surveillance system:

These cameras are only enough to keep an honest man honest
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