October 08, 2007

CCTV is a placebo

Under Labour the number of CCTV cameras has increased 8 times from 67 schemes with approximately 5,238 cameras in 1997 to an estimated 500 systems with 40,000 cameras in 2002. The problem is that CCTV is a placebo.

CCTV makes people feel safer but has no impact on actual crime levels or crime clear up rates. This is an overconfidence that has lead to real miscarrages of justice, luckily this is rarer than it might be because even with high quality systems it is hard to identify people from CCTV that you are not already familar with, and CCTV is very rarely of high quality.

Then there is the small matter that almost all of these supposed crime prevention schemes are themselves illegal. Real criminal know how useless they are though and have absolutely no fear of them. The law abiding however are not so lucky, CCTV may not be any good for reducing crime but they are perfectly good enough to let the operators play the peeping tom.


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