Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Crime solved per 1,000 UK surveillance cameras

BTC - On the student drag close to where I live, new cameras are sitting on top of street lights. They don't even try to conceal it with aesthetics. It's like being in the presence of an aggressive cockroach guarding the garbage. An immediate reflex is to shriek and then try to find a way to kill it (the cameras).

I've argued many times before that surveillance cameras in public spaces provide little crime fighting bang for the buck, often citing Britain's example. Now out of the UK comes this news, via the BBC, showing how little crime fighting benefit that nation has seen from its massive investment in CCTV:
Only one crime was solved by each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city's surveillance network has claimed.

The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals.

In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers.

David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: "It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent."

The Metropolitan Police has been extraordinarily slow to act to deal with the ineffectiveness of CCTV

He added: "CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness.

"It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.
US cities investing in public video surveillance should take heed of this new report. Proponents of CCTV often admit that cameras don't reduce crime, but instead argue that they help solve them after the fact. But Britain's example shows that's not true, either. In that light, there's little sense in throwing good money after bad to follow the Brits' lead. In a tight budgetary environment, cities should shelve CCTV programs and shift resources toward priorities that measurably affect crime.

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