On London's Surveillance Cameras
A recent report has concluded that the London's surveillance cameras have solved one crime per thousand cameras per year.
David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: "It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent."
He added: "CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness.
"It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.
Earlier this year separate research commissioned by the Home Office suggested that the cameras had done virtually nothing to cut crime, but were most effective in preventing vehicle crimes in car parks.
A report by a House of Lords committee also said that £500 million was spent on new cameras in the 10 years to 2006, money which could have been spent on street lighting or neighbourhood crime prevention initiatives.
A large proportion of the cash has been In London, where an estimated £200 million so far has been spent on the cameras. This suggests that each crime has cost £20,000 to detect.
I haven't seen the report, but I know it's hard to figure out when a crime has been "solved" by a surveillance camera. To me, the crime has to have been unsolvable without the cameras. Repeatedly I see pro-camera lobbyists pointing to the surveillance-camera images that identified the 7/7 London Transport bombers, but it is obvious that they would have been identified even without the cameras.
And it would really help my understanding of that £20,000 figure (I assume it is calculated from £200 million for the cameras times 1 in 1000 cameras used to solve a crime per year divided by ten years) if I knew what sorts of crimes the cameras "solved." If the £200 million solved 10,000 murders, it might very well be a good security trade-off. But my guess is that most of the crimes were of a much lower level.
Cameras are largely security theater:
A Home Office spokeswoman said CCTVs "help communities feel safer".
Posted on August 31, 2009 at 5:59 AM • 88 Comments