Sometimes CCTV Cameras Work

Sex attack caught on camera.

Hamilton police have arrested two men after a sex attack on a woman early today was caught on the city's closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

CCTV operators contacted police when they became concerned about the safety of a woman outside an apartment block near the intersection of Victoria and Collingwood streets about 5am today.

Remember, though, that the test for whether the surveillance cameras are worth it is whether or not this crime would have been solved without them. That is, were the cameras necessary for arrest or conviction?

My previous writing on cameras.

EDITED TO ADD (12/17): When I wrote "remember, though, that the test for whether the surveillance cameras are worth it is whether or not this crime would have been solved without them," I was being sloppy. That's the test as to whether or not they had any value in this case.

Posted on December 13, 2010 at 2:01 PM • 50 Comments

Comments

HSweeneyDecember 13, 2010 2:12 PM

New cherry picking of "examples of CCTV working" will be rolled out soon!
Most video is so poor ID's can't be made!

KevinDecember 13, 2010 2:18 PM

Not only "were the cameras necessary for arrest or conviction?", but "would more crimes be solved and prevented by the cameras, or by using the money to hire more police, or train existing police better, etc?".

xavierDecember 13, 2010 2:21 PM

"Remember, though, that the test for whether the surveillance cameras are worth it is whether or not this crime would have been solved without them."

No. That is the test for whether they were effective in this instance. To test if they are worth the cost, you have to consider the total number of instances in which the cameras were effective. Even if the cameras are effective in this instance, it is not immediately clear that they are worth the cost.

EHDecember 13, 2010 2:27 PM

To be fair, the article seems to say that the men were arrested (or at least the police were called) *during* the assault. The difference was not the cameras, it was that someone was watching and paying attention. Economically, this is pretty much the worst model of CCTV crime prevention, but I think it provides a great example of witnesses being the most important part of the equation. I wouldn't trust any crime abatement technology that can't testify in open court.

CurbyDecember 13, 2010 2:41 PM

Agreed, this was curious wording on Bruce's part. It lacks the big picture view, and seems to ignore the goal of prevention of crime.

kingsnakeDecember 13, 2010 3:08 PM

Regarding "preventative value" ... Whether cameras, courts, police, laws, whatever. They are not there to protect you from anyone. They can't. All they are there for is to pick up the pieces and, theoretically, see that "justice" is done.

Tangerine BlueDecember 13, 2010 3:29 PM

@xavier,

> To test if they are worth the cost, you have to consider the total number of instances in which the cameras were effective.

Good point. We need to know the total number of instances where the cameras were ineffective.

Even doing that, we're still not seeing the whole picture. We still haven't factored in the societal costs of having a surveillance state.

anonDecember 13, 2010 3:52 PM

@ kingsnake

"They are not there to protect you from anyone. They can't."

Well it seems in this instance, they did. The news story is rather short, but it would appear that the police arrived during an assault and arrested the perpetrators.

Now this doesn't mean that because one attack was prevented (or, rather, interrupted) the use of all CCTV cameras is necessarily justified. But if we're going to be making economic arguments for why the cameras are a bad idea, it would be disingenuous not to include the small probability that sometimes the camera may stop a crime as it is occurring.

And here's why the economic argument is always going to be a hard sell... What is the value of preventing an "indecent assault" (rape?)? You and I know that society has to value these things somehow, but in the political arena, "CAMERA NABS RAPIST IN THE ACT" will always garner more attention than "Expensive camera initiative does not have statistically significant impact on crime."

Then you add the fact that because no one really knows how to decrease crime, camera opponents don't have a good alternative to put forward. More police? Maybe, but even that's a sticky statistical wicket, crime just has too many factors and any approach is going to cost money and its impact will be difficult to measure.

lazloDecember 13, 2010 3:53 PM

The only thing that's going to get me to be even marginally happy about the prevalence of CCTV cameras is stories about their use in exonerating accused innocents. Making law enforcement more efficient is all well and good, but making it more accurate is a truly laudable goal.

Joseph ConcannonDecember 13, 2010 4:02 PM

Installation of CCTV equipment is an effective law enforcement tool; especially when budgets are being sliced and when cities can not have a police officer on every corner, behind every building and so forth.

Value...if one person is rescued, crime prevented, accident deterred, etc it is certainly worth the expense. In fact, CCTV installations could improve the overall value of property in that... the area could see a decrease in crime, disorder and "fear". Which in a City like NYC could mean more visitors, low vacancy rates in hotels, long lines in the Theatre District, restaurants busting with group gatherings for the holiday and such. So these tools can have a very positive impact on the economic welfare for a city, town, etc..

In this case, the video if captured and properly secure as evidence for a criminal trial, then the video speaks for itself. The certainity of arrest, conviction and punishment will no doubt become very public knowledge and change behaviors. After all that's all we want in the first place to change unwanted behavior.

There needs to be a safeguard with CCTV. A ring of steel in NYC, London Transportation systems with CCTV every where....could be considered an intrusion to privacy, big brother, George Orwell, etc.. So like so many other issues in Law Enforcement there is a very gentle and yet acute balancing act that has to be done in carrying out decisions to put the public on CCTV and to store same and make it available for consumption by Law Enforcement agencies.

These decisions like almost all others in implementing technology decisions whether at the front door or in the back office all need considerable discussion and those in charge carry with them a great weight in being certain that the right decision is made. There is a legal liability, constitutional and privacy concerns that will follow you every step of the way. Solid planning and up front discussion will avoid confusion, mistakes and litigation.

Thanks

Joseph R. Concannon
NY InfraGard

GoethnerDecember 13, 2010 4:10 PM


...referenced news article is extremely brief, without any details, and only quotes an informal comment from a cop. Hard to see how this incident is significant.

But just as 'a-stopped-clock-is-correct-twice-a-day' ... it's a certainty that somewhere in the world a CCTV surveillance camera(s) will help stop some crime(s) by pure chance.

These cameras are everywhere in huge numbers. This obscure report is from the remote southern hemisphere. It's not even slightly surprising that somewhere/sometime/somehow a surveillance camera will be helpful... but no broad conclusions can be made at all from this-- it's not even noteworthy.

Vladimir JirasekDecember 13, 2010 4:16 PM

In this special case the CCTV certainly helped the assaulted woman. Had it not been for someone actively watching CCTV at 5am in the morning she would be just another number in the police statistics and inevitably the CCTV could not be used for the attackers identification.
We should however not take this a precedence for ever increasing CCVT coverage in UK cities.
There could be other preventative control the woman could potentially have used: loud nice generator, panic button calling police (better response time than CCTV potentially), a gun in her trained hands (I know sound controversial but everyone has guns, except law abiding citizens!).

Dirk PraetDecember 13, 2010 4:44 PM

Like any other technology or control, CCTV can be used and abused. It will have its merits as a deterrent and recording tool in specific places and specific instances. Generalizing its usage however is like using a howitzer to squash a fly on a wall. It's inefficient, ineffective and undesirable. And the fly may still have escaped.

Thomas ClaburnDecember 13, 2010 4:51 PM

Bruce, I think your test for the value of cameras may be too narrow. The existence of video of an attack may have an impact on sentencing. For potential victims at least, if not society at large, that might count for something.

mcbDecember 13, 2010 6:02 PM

@ Joseph Concannon

"Installation of CCTV equipment is an effective law enforcement tool"

Many politicians, civic leaders, law enforcement administrators, and CCTV installers would like us to believe so, but such installations and their ongoing operations come with a variety of costs.

"Value...if one person is rescued, crime prevented, accident deterred, etc it is certainly worth the expense."

Do you believe this is true regardless the cost of the system and its operation? Are all crimes equally worth preventing regardless whether the annual per camera cost is $1,000 or $10,000? Resources expended on public CCTV are not available elsewhere so the cost benefit must be calculated. The effect of public CCTV on deterrence, citizen comfort, and property values strikes me as tremendously challenging to measure accurately.

"The certainty of arrest, conviction and punishment will no doubt become very public knowledge and change behaviors."

Are you aware of any case aided by public CCTV systems where this very desirable chain of events actually occurred?

My reading suggests that so far the data is mixed. Anecdotal information is frequently favorable. Scientifically collected data is less positive.

This 1997 report is somewhat dated, so while the issues remain the same the per unit deployed costs may have come down http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/05/

The 2005 Home Office Research Study 292 is a classic http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/cctv2.html

This 2008 report suggests the evidence of public CCTV effectiveness is inconclusive http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/...

This is an important topic, for many reasons, which should serve as all the greater motivation for careful analysis and unemotional calculation.

CarlDecember 13, 2010 9:58 PM


"the test for whether the surveillance cameras are worth it is whether or not this crime would have been solved without them. That is, were the cameras necessary for arrest or conviction?"
Well obviously that's not the test, the test is wether or not they assist in catching/prosecuting enough to warrant their use. They can compliment other methods, they dont have to replace them. Security is never just one thing, it's layers.


More of your same fundamental argument "The [AIT machine | CCTV | CRB background checks] can't provide TOTAL security , so they dont provide ANY security (or at best such an astonishingly low amount of security) and are therefor useless"


"They(CCTV) actually solve very few crimes, and their deterrent effect is minimal. Conventional wisdom predicts the opposite. But if that were true, then camera-happy London, with something like 500,000, would be the safest city on the planet. It isn't, of course"
I guess that's the very definition of a shallow argument... no need to consider anything else, if CCTV doesnt solve 100% of the problem, it's worthless..

Perhaps these would interest you:
England/Wales is #94 of 124 in homicide rates (a higher number is better). US is 45. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Murders drop to lowest level for 20 years in England and Wales: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/21/...
800 criminals captured by Fife CCTV in a record year (Scotland): http://www.heraldscotland.com/...

Remember: "Examples of places where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy are person's residence or hotel room[1] and public places which have been specifically provided by businesses or the public sector to ensure privacy, such as public restrooms, private portions of jailhouses,[2] or a phone booth.[3][4]
In general, one cannot have an expectation of privacy in public places, with the exceptions mentioned above"

CarlDecember 13, 2010 10:03 PM

"There are exceptions, of course, and proponents of cameras can always cherry-pick examples to bolster their argument. These success stories are what convince us; our brains are wired to respond more strongly to anecdotes than to data. But the data is clear: CCTV cameras have minimal value in the fight against crime. "

So, you would have us believe that all of the law enforcement organizations that use CCTV in some form, have basically said: "We know they are worthless, but hey, we got lots of free buget laying around, and we just might get some nudie pics.. and HEY, we can always put together a youtube highlight reel.."

wait.. according to you, the quality is so bad.. the youtube idea wont work, and all we'll see is a smudge of pink colored something that we think might be a naked female.. not sure you've thought this thru bruce..

CarlDecember 13, 2010 10:07 PM

@mcb "Are you aware of any case aided by public CCTV systems where this very desirable chain of events actually occurred?"
are you actually serious? Is that a real question? Do you never watch news?

ghysopDecember 13, 2010 10:50 PM

California report on Public Video Surveillance
http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/05/

"Generally, the data suggest that CCTV video surveillance is successful in reducing and preventing crimes and is helpful in prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing a crime. In addition, there may be public law enforcement cost savings. Critics argue that public video surveillance conflicts with the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. These concerns and other related issues are discussed in this paper. "

Of note:
Recent British government reports cite CCTV surveillance as a major reason for declining crime rates: in the small town of Berwick burglaries fell by 69 percent; in Northhampton overall crime decreased by 57 percent; and in Glasgow, Scotland crime decreased by 68 percent.25

In 1996, Memphis initiated a $450,000 CCTV video surveillance program for its downtown business and entertainment district in order to discourage and prevent crime. This area was chosen because of its high visibility and increased business growth. The surveillance system consists of 10 pantilt\zoom cameras which are mounted on buildings covering a 12 square block area. The CCTV cameras are linked to police dispatch centers via fiber optic cable. Volunteers and police staff monitor the CCTV system as part of a public/private partnership.

The downtown project is the first stage of a planned citywide video crime prevention network which will link police with as many as 72 CCTV surveillance cameras installed on buildings and in parking lots. Police officials believe the CCTV system will give the general public a sense of safety and will assist in identifying and apprehending criminals much faster. "The goal of this project is not to substitute officers for cameras. Rather, this equipment will be an addition to the patrol officers to help with their effectiveness. The overall objective of this surveillance program is to make the city a safer place for tourists and business owners."62 According to Memphis police, crime has decreased 10 percent in the downtown area where the cameras are located since the program was initiated.

Davi OttenheimerDecember 13, 2010 11:49 PM

Wow, that takes me back a few years.

Speaking of your prior writing, remember in 2005 when you posted "Why Surveillance Cameras Don't Reduce Crime" and then I responded:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/03/...

"Surveillance technology is just now reaching a period of innovation and adoption that will make it a relevant and useful tool in prevention as well as detection of crime. We would be remiss to blame the failure of the deployment and administration of cameras on the devices themselves..."

Clive RobinsonDecember 14, 2010 12:32 AM

@ Carl,

You say,

"are you actually serious? Is that a real question Do you never watch news"

When some one says,

"Are you aware of any case aided by public CCTV systems where this very desirable chain of events actually occurred?"

In response to the comment,

"The certainty of arrest, conviction and punishment will no doubt become very public knowledge and change behaviors."

Made by somebody who appears from their "marketing puff piece" to have a very real interest in selling CCTV systems to municipal authorities.

Thus to give you the benifit of the doubt I don't think you actualy read mcb's post properly did you?

Or are you as others have said about your posts trying to "cherry pick" for the sake of any argument against?

Lets look at some of your other comments in this thread...

"It isn't, of course I guess that's the very definition of a shallow argument... no need to consider anything else, if CCTV doesnt solve 100% of the problem, it' worthless."

In response to,

"They(CCTV) actually solve very few crimes, and their deterrent effect is minimal. Conventional wisdom predicts the opposite. But if that were true, then camera-happy London, with something ike 500,000, would be the safest city on the planet."

Firstly are you aware that this comment you rail against is the same sentiment as made by a Senior Police Officer in the Met Police in London when officialy investigating London's use of CCTV?
I suspect not.

Secondly lets deconstruct the comment, there are three sentances the first,

"They(CCTV) actually solve very few crimes, and their deterrent effect is minimal."

This is a statment about their worth, most longterm independant reports into CCTV show this (including those in London). The analyasis in the reports generaly concludes that there are a number of reasons but it usually boils down to the easy ability of criminals to avoid being identified (hoodie culture, static cameras), the lack of timely response by authorities (if any) and the usually poor quality of recordings if even made (see official reports into various terrorist attacks including 7/7 bombings) or the lack of admissibility as evidence into court (for a whole variety of reasons).

The second,

"Conventional wisdom predicts the opposite."

Is a statment about the general perception of many highly visable security measures that prove to be ineffectual. People often consider a measure they can see as being effective / effectual because they can see it personaly. They do not go on as many criminals (including terrorists) do to analyze the security measure for weakness and how to exploit them. Which is what has happened with CCTV virtualy every place it has been deployed civically and longterm street crime stats analysed independently.

Which brings us to the third sentance,

"But if that were true, then camera-happy London, with something like 500,000, would be the safest city on the planet."

London is "camera-happy" as anyone who lives there and keeps their eyes open knows. The figures are changing all the time but the trend has been towards more cameras one national statistic claimed that the UK has 20 times the number of CCTV cameras (normalised against population) of any other nation. And it turns out that at the time by far the greatest density (against population) was in London (one report claiming one camera for every six residents). Whilst these cameras where being installed and for some time afterwards the overall reported crime rate continued to climb and for many "street crimes" it still does.

That is London has significant levels of "street crime" some of it extreamly violent I don't know where it was / is in world wide league tables but as a person who lives in one of the supposedly "safer neighbourhoods" I have both seen plenty of street crime and been the subject of it a significant number of times (more than you can count on your hands).

So the three sentances as written apear to stand in their own right and also together so perhaps you would care to explain what part of that comment causes you such angst?

For your information, what appears to have been successfull in bringing "street crime" in London down is new non static policing methods but we are still in the "short term honeymoon period" with many of these.

And this is the important point about "static security measures" they have an initial short term effect that then disapears in the long term as criminals and others adapt to their presence.

There is also then the question of the effect on "antisocial behaviour" as opposed to "premeditated crime".

As can be seen from much footage from the UK and other places CCTV cameras have little or no effect as those commiting the antisocial behaviour are either unaware of the cameras or in a state due to chemical substances where they are either oblivious or don't care.

There is also ample evidence of the cameras actually causing antisocial behaviour...

Yes that is CCTV cameras have in a number of places caused an increase in low level crime simply by being there.

I could go on with your other comments and shoot them full of holes but your general behaviour in recent posts on this blog suggest you have an agenda and I thus (unlike you) have to consider the other readers of this blog.

MarkHDecember 14, 2010 2:13 AM

@carl, who claims that those who criticize various security measures (for example, surveillance cameras) make the argument:

"The [AIT machine | CCTV | CRB background checks] can't provide TOTAL security , so they dont provide ANY security (or at best such an astonishingly low amount of security) and are therefor useless"

I don't know whether carl is interested in learning about security analysis ... I have yet to see evidence of this. But just in case he is...

In the discipline of security analysis, it is generally accepted that no security technique or system is completely effective. Therefore, no competent security professional (Bruce, for example) would even consider the question of 100% effectiveness, or "total security," or what have you.

I've been reading this blog for years, and I don't remember any suggestion that a security technique be evaluated by the standard of "total security." It is certainly not usual.

When someone invents an argument that nobody here has made, and then rebuts it, that is called a "straw man."

Security precautions against active opponents (as opposed to various natural causes) are often evaluated in terms of how much they increase the cost of a successful attack. It is understood that they cannot prevent an attack (never being 100% effective), but may make it more difficult.

Security precautions impose costs not only on anyone who would attempt to cause harm, but also impose costs on those who are attempting protection.

Making rational (as opposed to emotional, "oh think of the children") security decisions, requires an understanding of (at least):

* the cost (to the defender) of the security system
* the effectiveness of the security system
* the cost (to the attacker) of successful breaks
* how attacker cost compares to attacker resources (is the cost enough to significantly deter a break)
* the extent to which loss of the protected thing is decreased by the security system

All of these involve degrees of uncertainty, and in some cases various of them can be quite difficult to measure. And obviously, there are different ways of assessing cost.

I can say that if I:

(1) assigned maximum value to the protection of bodily safety from malevolent persons, OR the belief in such protection, regardless of objective truth;

(2) assigned lesser or no value to protection of bodily safety from risks other than malevolent persons;

(3) assigned little or no value to economic resources spent on public safety security measures;

(4) considered that such expenditure of resources had little or no effect on security alternatives that might be more effective;

(5) assigned little or no value to privacy, human dignity, individual liberty, or regimes of law intended to safeguard the foregoing;

(6) assigned little or no value to the psychological, moral, and quality-of-life costs of living in a "national security state"; and

(7) had a touching faith in institutions that claim to protect my safety (e.g., "we wouldn't have spent billions of dollars of your taxes on AIT if it didn't work really good, right?")

... then my conclusions would match carl's!

Martin BonnerDecember 14, 2010 5:00 AM

In general I agree with the thrust of the piece, and would like to see CCTVs removed. *However* I think the test for "camera benefit" is too narrow. There appears to have been a benefit here in that the cameras allowed the police to interrupt an attack, rather convict for a completed attack later.

TimDecember 14, 2010 5:19 AM

Joseph, I must disagree with "In fact, CCTV installations could improve the overall value of property..", you only have to look at the issues in the Birmingham UK implementation to see just how undesirable it is in residential districts.

DaveDecember 14, 2010 5:20 AM

>To be fair, the article seems to say that the men were arrested (or at least the
>police were called) *during* the assault. The difference was not the cameras, it
>was that someone was watching and paying attention.

That's a really important point to make. The same arrest could have been made by a beat cop who happened to notice the woman being assaulted. To put this into perspective, Hamilton has a relatively tiny city centre, the area covered by cameras is even smaller, and not much goes on there after about 11pm, earlier on a weekday. This creates perfect conditions for noticing things, if there's something moving in front of one of the small number of cameras then you pay attention to it.

Doktor JonDecember 14, 2010 5:23 AM

Putting together a CCTV newsletter, I've just spent ages going through hundreds of CCTV related news stories, some of which clearly demonstrate successes, and some which have proven to be unmitigated failures ... even disasters!

The truth of course lays somewhere in the middle.

The appropriate and effective use of CCTV isn't simply about technology, but equally the techniques that are employed to address certain specifically identified operational requirements.

If you stick a camera on a pole, and require that an operator watch the images both from that single unit and perhaps 25 more, in practice the effectiveness of the "system" is very much based on what I've long described as "Lottery Surveillance".

If CCTV is applied more intelligently and appropriately, operated sensibly, and maintained in line with best practice, then generally speaking it should be reasonably effective and financially acceptable, for it's intended purpose(s).

If you believe that there are half a million CCTV cameras in London, then you have to accept that perhaps 475,000 of those are not consistently monitored, and barely a thousand or two of the remainder are actually being operated as "active" surveillance cameras in any given minute of the day. That's a far cry from the widely reported statistic that suggests somebody somewhere is constantly monitoring our every move.

Big changes are on their way, but not so much because society has suddenly woken up to a new found respect for civil liberties, but rather the cold hard economic realisation that in cash strapped times, communities cannot afford to operate generally inefficient CCTV systems, in the way that has gone before.

The UK's CCTV Industry may be starting to grasp this new found realisation, but unfortunately it would appear that the rest of the world is still some way behind.

Whether future improvements in technology, education, standards, or financial constraints eventually produce a quantum leap in CCTV effectiveness, or a wholesale deconstruction of unaffordable and often discredited systems, only time will tell.

In the meantime, there are two opposing views on whether CCTV works or not, and in a literal sense, there are plenty of merits in both arguments.

Andrew McGregorDecember 14, 2010 6:11 AM

You have to remember the context: this was in New Zealand, where if the police get called about violence on the streets, they show up very quickly indeed; in the Hamilton CBD, probably within two minutes.

So, it's not about the CCTV cameras, it's about police response times. It just happened that in this case the witnesses were the camera operators.

This isn't that rare an event either, in those parts of NZ cities where there are cameras; although a sex crime is newsworthy, low-level violence is pretty common, and witnessed on camera probably draws a police response several times in the average weekend (fortunately, mostly the participants know each other, and random passers by are pretty safe).

RandyDecember 14, 2010 6:15 AM

I had a curious thought about CCTV and it's value. What if we think of CCTV records as audit logs on your computer system? Do we consider the value of an audit log based on how many attacks they prevent? Or do we consider their value as an "after-the-fact" record used to investigate an incident?

I'm NOT saying this is a completely accurate comparison! I know the cost of CCTV is much more significant that simple audit logs. But what if we consider capturing all audit logs in an organization, then feeding them to a central collection point for analysis, correlation, etc (in other words, feed all logs into a SOC)? Then we have a model similar to CCTV usage.

Is there someone in the SOC watching ALL logs ALL the time? No! Does feeding all this data into a SOC prevent attacks? No! It's just a record of events.

I've long questioned the value of a SOC, much the same way we question the value of CCTV in a city model like this.

Please, discuss this! I'd love to hear comments on this from everyone.

Clive RobinsonDecember 14, 2010 7:00 AM

@ Doktor John,

"In the meantime, there are two opposing views on whether CCTV works or not, and in a literal sense there are plenty of merits in both arguments."

I suspect that most who read this blog will know there are places where they work and don't.

From the active observers point of view it's a question of "signal to noise" the less noise in total the easier it is to spot the signal.

As noted by another poster Hamilton is not exactly large or thriving in the early hours of the morning, and as you are probably aware women come under disproportiante viewing (as do ethnic minorities). So in all probability the woman was actually being activly watched prior to being assulted.

The idea of signal to noise is not new in security, it is known that it is easier to observe a "no go area" with little cover than it is to observe a high traffic area with plenty of cover.

Then there is the area of coverage a small area requires less observation points for any resolution of image therefore again the noise is low and the signal high.

Which is why it is known that CCTV works well for small targets with little or no cover or movment, and considerably less well as any of these three criteria rise.

There are several other criteria when it comes to the observer and signal to noise. Operator fatigue is caused by both to much visual input and to little. Things like camera switches cause disorientation and views with few visual refrences have a similar effect to "road hypnotism". Likewise with image clarity where contrast, brightness and resolution of the images effects the observer.

Thus "civic" areas with variable lighting, high traffic, multitudes of moving cover, frequent camera switches, with visual depth changes and fairly low resolution and often grainy and slightly out of focus images have very high noise values with respect to any signal that might actually be in the operators view. And are thus bad targets before operator fatigue and distraction come to play.

Then untill recently lets be honest recorded images where crap and unreliable for a whole host of reasons. However almost like magic the need to read car number plates reliably for taxation purposes jumped the technology several generations in just a handfull of years. The cost of storing geometricaly increasing image sizes has actually fallen about two to three times faster than the geometric increase. It has got to the point where you can actually by a recording system for 8 or 16 cameras for little more than the price of a medium range consumer HD video recorder. And some come with sound triggers (alarms) and all sorts of features that where virtually unknown even on high end proffesional systems just ten years ago. Also the cost of connecting them all up has fallen through the floor simply because of the Internet and Cable Television putting available connectivity in the ground at marginal cost.

However there is still the thorny question of admissibility into court as evidence. What is not well advertised is that most CCTV footage that is used to secure a conviction actually never makes it to court and often could not. It is often used to persuade a suspect to either admit guilt on the specific charge or for multiple offences to be taken into account at sentancing.

The admissability or not is not just due to things like the "chain of evidence" but as to if the image is sufficiently clear and intelligible.

Even if in high resolution and good lighting etc the scene can be to visually confusing to follow in a way it can be presented to a judge and jury.

Thus when presented in court they are usually not for identifing individuals but showing emotive content such as the brutality of an assult. That is they are almost "window dressing" or at best "supporting evidence" as oposed to primary evidence.

Suspects that are guilty tend to see more in the images than untrained observers do thus the footage can be used almost like a lie detector during questioning.

However in by far the majority of cases it is old fashiond police work that gets the conviction not the CCTV video footage irrespective of how good it is.

Thus CCTV is best used to call in a rapid response to a high value target surounded by a "no go" area in much the same way conventional burglar alarms do.

MeiDecember 14, 2010 8:49 AM

I would much rather not be raped than have my rapist sent to prison. I'm pretty sure a large number of the 25% of U.S. women who've been sexually assaulted would feel the same way.

d2dDecember 14, 2010 9:52 AM

two cable tv shows. one called "the dumbest criminals", and the other called "first 48" often show surveilance video.
watching 'dumbest' last night I saw a burglar in a pharmacy arrive through the ceiling, and go shopping but he didn't find anything he wanted but found a step ladder, and tried to climb back out. he fell off the top of the ladder numerous times, and much of the drop ceiling ended up on the floor. it was hilarious. The othe is a murder show and detectives without a clue look for nearby surveilance cameras, and sometimes find them pointed in a semi useful direction to see the crim exit or some such, but the quality of many of these is really bad, its not just the 420 scanning lines, but the fact that after you install the camera, fine dust and airborne grease from frying grills and such begin to collect on the lense so that a camera that showed beautiful crisp video when new becomes a lousy unfocused camera a year later. this type of degradation of the camera will even affect the newer HD cameras, and I assume that HD fills the recorder much faster than the old video. These cameras are effective in witnessing crime within a very short range and relatively narrow angle, as distance increases, and the number of times the data is rewritten over as well as weather conditions such as snow and rain add to the degradation. cameras can witness crime in a very specific place such as inside a room, hallway etc but outdoors, they need lighting, and close proximity to be useful after the crime has been committed, they do not actively prevent crime much, perhaps someone who is not yet a criminal will be detered from starting but real criminals whos job is to steal or rob will not get another job, they will just work other parts of town.

nobodyspecialDecember 14, 2010 10:40 AM

May I suggest a cheaper solution.
Everyday the police stick a pin in the A-Z and dispatch a patrol car to that point.
If a crime was happening they can arrest somebody, if not then they can count it as a deterrent.

The in could of course be replaced by an expensive GIS system from Capita/ Anderson/ Serco/ preferred supplier of the day.

Unix RoninDecember 14, 2010 11:29 AM

Let's face it, install a sufficiently large number of surveillance cameras and sooner or later you're going to get lucky. But when *one incident* in which one camera worked is rare enough to make the news, that is not a sign that the camera *system* is working. It's a sign that the camera *system* is failing.

Now, if it ever becomes news that a crime was committed and was NOT caught by the cameras ... well, at that point, the camera *system* can be said to be working. But right now? "Holy crap, one of our cameras actually caught a crime!" is not a ringing endorsement of the CCTV camera system. I believe the statistics worldwide will still show that the incidence of abuses of public CCTV systems greatly exceeds the incidence of crimes stopped or prevented, or criminals apprehended, because of public CCTV systems.

DeanDecember 14, 2010 11:31 AM

MarkH: great post!

Re: cameras. I have seen several appeals from police on the news to help identify suspects from CCTV footage recorded at a crime scene. I've yet to see one with sufficient quality that I could identify myself, let alone someone else. Pretty useless, even as an investigative tool, as far as I'm concerned.

As for prevention, they didn't prevent any of these incidents shown on tv, did they?

SethDecember 14, 2010 12:12 PM

Did the camera's help? Absolutely! For those of you unaware, 1 out of 4 women will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime. That includes Rape. Of those who find them selves in that 25%, their odds of being assaulted again, go up with each assault. Depending on where you look, you will find that studies vary on these percentages. Largely due to the fact that some studies look at assaults, and rape reported to the Police. Where other studies do a poll, and find that something like 60-80% of all assaults and rape go unreported. Mainly due to the fact that retribution may come back on them if they do report it. There can be shame, embarrassment, or perceived negligence on their part. That alcohol or drugs may have been involved. Or that it's marital rape. For those who have been assaulted or raped once already, and it happens again. They know how difficult it is to get a conviction, even with physical evidence such as video, photos, and DNA matching from rape kits. The final and most common reason is that the victim believes nobody will believe them. That because they where drunk, it was their fault. This misconception by involved only helps rapists get away with their crime. A 20 year old male shouldn't expect to get raped if he gets drunk. Nor should a 20 year old female. This however is not reality in the fact that females are targeted widely for such attacks. The cameras help because unless the victim is conscious and able to fight back, and receive defensive wounds, their story is not usually believed. If you've ever experienced a traumatic event in your life personally, first hand, then you know that sometimes your body doesn't act, or respond in a way that you would expect it to. Fighting back sometimes helps the victim to get away, but most of the time, it only leaves cuts, bruises, or death. Being in a mental state where the victim can outsmart the assailant, isn't something that most victims have to their disposal. I'm not for having big brother watch everything everyone does. but when it catches something like this, I'm happy to see it's in place. If anything it supports the victims story in this traumatic time. The Unites States has a horrible process for ensuring justice when it comes to these issues. They seem to know exactly what to do if someone is mugged, or murdered. But when it comes to this. There's not much out there to hold anyone accountable. And that's where cameras, and witnesses, and courage of the victim and their family and friends are all that anyone has to support them.

Doug CoulterDecember 14, 2010 1:05 PM

My mother was a psychologist, and many of her patients were rape victims. While I didn't always agree with Mom, one thing she pointed out that I could verify by just being around there, was that rapists often as not have a decent lawyer who can generally push things in the direction of "consensual that went wrong some way", the result being that rapists get pretty short sentences if the victim isn't otherwise much injured, and further, get out earlier than most other offenders, because they (for whatever reason) tend to be model prisoners so get parole a lot easier than most. And they tend to go right back to their old patterns, often as not with the same victims again.

I can say it was educational. On the other hand, someone tried it on my first wife, and wound up being arrested while still unconscious from her response to the attempt. I'd say, fight if you can.
It works sometimes. Not fighting always results in at least rape, sometimes worse.

No way that helps.

CarlDecember 14, 2010 1:34 PM

@ Clive and @Mark:
I have zero axe to grind, and no ulterior motives..

I was a HUGE Bruce fan in the late 90's when all I knew about him was his work on crypto and Applied Cryptography. I still believe AC to be the most pragmatic and understandable book on crypto ever written.

I drifted away from security when I moved into routing protocols at work for 7-8 years.. I happened upon Bruce's recently and was completely astonished at his willingness to attempt to put together a security argument against some activity/technology just because he is a staunch Civil Libertarian.

Dont get me wrong, I respect your ability to hold a belief. I would be fine with Bruce saying something like "[AIT machines | CCTV | CRB ] do increase security, but as a civil libertarian I am against it.
But
That isnt what he does. He tries to put together some bogus argument to make the undesireble activity an actual detriment to security.

Some examples:
"Remember, though, that the test for whether the surveillance cameras are worth it is whether or not this crime would have been solved without them. That is, were the cameras necessary for arrest or conviction?"
--So, this is clearly ridiculous. Security is never about one single thing, it's always about layers, every crime is different, every video of said crime is different, has different quality, shows different aspects of the crime. Prosecuting attorneys may decide to use various pieces of evidence differently. Bruce knows all this


"On January 19, a team of at least 15 people assassinated Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The Dubai police released video footage of 11 of them. While it was obviously a very professional operation, the 27 minutes of video is fascinating in its banality. Team members walk through the airport, check in and out of hotels, get in and out of taxis. They make no effort to hide themselves from the cameras, sometimes seeming to stare directly into them. They obviously don't care that they're being recorded, and -- in fact -- the cameras didn't prevent the assassination, nor as far as we know have they helped as yet in identifying the killers."
--CCTV is going to be primarily used after the fact to catch/convict. That's reality, there are more camera's than police officers. Of course its banal!! For crying out loud, what did you expect to see on video, Peter Sellers? Those guys were professionals wearing disguises, they are SUPPOSED to appear normal. Did you expect to see them behave differently for the camera? Did you expect to see them trying to overtly avoid the camera's by shielding their faces? Would that be the behavior you would expect from professionals who are trained to blend into a crowd? It's just a retarded argument.
Ask yourself this, w/out the released video, would we have known less about the crime? Absolutely!


"The [AIT machine | CCTV | CRB background checks] can't provide TOTAL security , so they dont provide ANY security (or at best such an astonishingly low amount of security) and are therefor useless"
--that is no strawman on my part, that is precisely bruces argument:
a) article title: "Spy Cameras Won't Make Us Safer"
b) "the cameras didn't prevent the assassination" wow, really? that's an indictment of the camera? AFTER the incident, its always easy to connect the dots.. before, and during, it ISNT. that's life.
c) "as far as we know have they helped as yet in identifying the killers" broadcasting pictures didnt help at all? really? and you know this because you are completly plugged into the security investigation? really?
d) conclusion: they didnt provide total security, so they are useless and need to go. No acknowledgement what so ever of the incremental security.

Talk about "cherry picking", you guys find one instance of a grainy photo and indict the entire system. Do you never watch the news?

CarlDecember 14, 2010 1:58 PM

@mark
excellant strawman! well done :-)


I can say that if I:
(1) assigned maximum value to the protection of bodily safety from malevolent persons, OR the belief in such protection, regardless of objective truth;
-->that's not my position: I dont argue FOR cavity searches or other more invasive screening procedures. I dont argue FOR cameras in US at the same degree as UK. I'm merely saying that I dont think asking random folks to go thru AIT is to much, and I do think that CCTV has a real value. I'm not arguing for total security, just what makes sense.

(2) assigned lesser or no value to protection of bodily safety from risks other than malevolent persons;
--> no clue what you're talking about there.. perhaps the risk you are referring to is the catastrophic loss of liberty that having a camera in a public place presents?

(3) assigned little or no value to economic resources spent on public safety security measures;
--> OBVIOSULY that's not my position: do you honestly believe that law enforcement around the world is saying right now,, "how can we waste our money this year!! I know, if we spend a lot of money installing a useless CCTV system, we blow our buget, AND get the added benefit of having to lay off Fred and Andy because we dont have the money... BRILLIANT!"

(4) considered that such expenditure of resources had little or no effect on security alternatives that might be more effective;
--> not my position of course.. lol, security is always about layers. I DONT argue that CCTV supplants other types of security. OBVIOUSLY it complements it.

(5) assigned little or no value to privacy, human dignity, individual liberty, or regimes of law intended to safeguard the foregoing;
--> LOL, sure, that's what everyone thinks when they believe that AIT machines, or CCTV is a reasonable use of said technology.

(6) assigned little or no value to the psychological, moral, and quality-of-life costs of living in a "national security state"; and
--> LOLOLOL yeah, everyone that thinks AIT machines, CRB checks, and CCTV are reasonable, wants to live in a "national security state".. lol..

(7) had a touching faith in institutions that claim to protect my safety (e.g., "we wouldn't have spent billions of dollars of your taxes on AIT if it didn't work really good, right?")
--> I've certainly met my fair share of cops with massive chips on their shoulders, and theres no excuse for that. At the same time it takes a certain type of person to go into law enforcement and that's the way it is.. Kind of like how computer science attracks introverted anti-social people that have anti-authoritarian issues and see conspiracies around every corner... lol
--> Think (just try it... just once... ), you really, honestly believe, that law enforcement spends all this time and money, to implement a system they know ahead of time isnt going to work, because at their heart, they are fascist and just really want to deprive you of "liberties".

BF SkinnerDecember 14, 2010 1:58 PM

@Carl "Do you never watch the news?"

News reports tell stories. That's all. A narrative, a model simplified for delivery within 2.5 minutes that people can understand easily. By definition they report on infrequent, remarkable, events. The NEWS. Do you get Dog Bites Man reported in news? No because it's a common event. What you get is "Traffic Stop yields heroin bust" Not "Of the 300 traffic stops made in the month of July 2 yeild drug transporters carrying heroin."

If we are to accept that cctv and other controls are effective then we should rarely hear about their effectiveness. Why are we hearing about it? A) Someone wants to point up the efficiency of their department or B) they are so rarely effecitve that they qualify as "news".

If "Installation of CCTV equipment is an effective law enforcement tool;"
Then controlled studies of crime rates before and after should easily validate this.
Show us the studies that validate the claims of the maker and governments who spend other peoples money to buy them.

"Value...if one person is rescued, crime prevented, accident deterred, etc it is certainly worth the expense."
So general. Type I? Type II...Which crimes? If one person is rescued from a mugging by CCTV and has his wallet returned to him had a bus pass, a 5 dollar bill, a fake id, and a beaver shot; then by your metric that justifies the outlay of what 100,000$ a million? Ten million?

CarlDecember 14, 2010 2:31 PM

"If we are to accept that cctv and other controls are effective then we should rarely hear about their effectiveness"
brilliant! so... anything we see on the news, is by definition ineffective.. like DNA evidence, forensics, border patrol.. lol

"controlled studies of crime rates before and after (CCTV) should easily validate this."
Are you applying that same logc to other tools/techniques used by law enforcement? Fingerprints, DNA, profiling, sketch artists, maintaining photographic records of criminals, police lineups? If so, please provide citations.. lol.. In the real world, it is obviously difficult to isolate and quantify. that being said take at look at this, if only 10% of the hits are examples of police effectively using video, that's 360,000 instances.
http://www.google.com/search?...

"Value...if one person is rescued, crime prevented, accident deterred, etc it is certainly worth the expense."
well, I never said that, and I dont believe it, but dont let that stop you..
To clarify, I DO NOT believe that everything humanly possible must be done to prevent crime and no cost is to much.
The reality is that within the bugets that law enforcement has, they make the best allocation of funding they can based on their experience and their judgement as to its effectiveness. And no, just because they believe that background checks, AIT machines or video is an effective COMPONENT of security, it doesnt make them fascist.

BF SkinnerDecember 14, 2010 3:26 PM

@Carl "well, I never said that"
Quite right. Apologies, my conflation with what the Infragard dude said.

"Are you applying that same logc to other tools/techniques "

Yes I would. And I'd include knocking on doors, talking to people, wearing out shoe leather, knowing the neighborhood and other more traditional methods of police work.

Throwing technology at a social problem is a doubtful strategy. The government knows this which is why OMB has been saying for at least 25 years all risk management programs must start with cost effective controls.

If the claim is the camera can prevent crime then the claiment is obligated to demonstrate how and how much.

If it's a thousand dollars and the system is 10,000 dollars than the thousand dollars is better spent just repaying the victim. This is obvious to everyone here. But the camera makers or their buyers aren't exercising due diligence on their behalf if they can't validate the benifit (the cost - it goes without saying they are VERY clear about).

I've been looking at software to automate work associated with FISMA. Telos claims a reduction in test plan preperation of greater than 95%. Test plans manually cost about 6 weeks of labor (no shit) and Xacta (Telos's product) spit's it out in 5 minutes. That's a validatable claim.

Most people I've worked with are surprised when I tell them camera's aren't a preventive control. Camera's don't stop people from doing what they want. They might identify the felony in progress as in the case cited here but it was the armed response that nabbed the villians.

No OneDecember 14, 2010 4:42 PM

@Carl, [you really, honestly believe, that law enforcement spends all this time and money, to implement a system they know ahead of time isnt going to work, because at their heart, they are fascist and just really want to deprive you of "liberties".]

That's not exactly the problem. The goal is more complex (but not by much) than "we hate liberty." The goal is first to strip away liberties and once we give up all our rights then soon after law enforcement will have a 100% arrest-and-conviction rate and will have "won." Because without rights it becomes child's play to stick a conviction on anyone who steps out of line.

And this isn't just some mad paranoia; this pattern has repeated itself throughout history time and again and was a proximate cause of the American revolution. (Granted, before now they didn't dress it up as stopping crime so much.)

CarlDecember 14, 2010 5:00 PM

Quite right. Apologies, my conflation with what the Infragard dude said.
-- no worries


"...That's a validatable claim"
--you want a guarantee, buy a radio. When it comes to social issues, it's a squishy situation with 100's of variables all thrown into the mix. It's equally difficult to quantify the value of the other law enforcement tools in the same respect. that's where judgement comes in. To make a case that CCTV ISNT worth the cost, you would have us believe that hundreds of thousands of law enforcement organizations and personal businesses around the world take the financial hit to achieve fascist goals.. that's just nonsense...

"Throwing technology at a social problem is a doubtful strategy"
--it would be better if people didnt do bad things.. but lacking that, there is a need for law enforcement, and technology can help them do their jobs better.

"camera's aren't a preventive control."
I wouldnt argue that, most of the time it's perhaps somewhat true, and in any case I dont personally see that as the real value add.. but ask yourself:
a) two liquour stores, both have same money, same physical layout, everything (not a real world scenario, as it's impossible to make all things equal, but just as a pragmatic example). One has a sign in the window that says "Premises protected by surveillance cameras " and is, the other has nothing. Which one would a robber attack, if he knew the situation?

b)you're a prosecuting attorney, would you rather have a video of a person committing the crime, or eye witness testimony?

MarkHDecember 14, 2010 5:33 PM

@carl:

For the record, I am an agnostic on surveillance cameras: I have no position whatever on their effectiveness. It was your post that lumped such cameras, AIT, and pervasive use of criminal background checks together.

For the record, I did not "put words into your mouth" in my previous post; rather, I stated a series of premises which, if I accepted them, would lead me to conclusions matching yours. Whether you apply such an analysis, and if so what value you put on various things, is not clear to me.

I offered a solution to an equation. I didn't say - and I don't think - that it is the only solution.

I can say, that when you write here about civil liberties, it seems to be in a consistently dismissive or even contemptuous tone.

Bruce - and some of us who read the blog - don't consider civil liberty to be an independent question. In the American tradition (and to a great extent, throughout the western world), liberty is a cherished value -- a thing worth protecting at cost of life, limb and treasure.

To those of us who share these values, liberty is a core component of what we must protect. In other words, we are not content to protect life and property. We insist on the protection of liberty, life, and property -- LIBERTY IS A VULNERABLE TREASURE, EASILY ERODED OR DESTROYED, WHICH PUBLIC SECURITY MUST PROTECT.

Furthermore, as I have written previously, loss of liberty leads to loss of life and property (history is replete with examples).

To those of us who accept these principles, it doesn't make sense to make security decisions based solely on life and property, and then say, "oh well, I guess we should take a look at liberty too." It is all of one piece.

As a corollary to this, a security measure that damages liberty, without making a truly substantial, robust and generally accepted improvement in the protection of life, is no security measure at all -- it is a decrease in security.

carl's words: "introverted anti-social people that have anti-authoritarian issues and see conspiracies around every corner"

When Ben Franklin wrote scornfully about those who would trade liberty for safety (I recently quoted this on another thread), and Patrick Henry wrote, "give me liberty, or give me death," they were drawing conclusions about security evaluation. They held protection of liberty to be comparable to protection of life: their concept of security required BOTH.

Perhaps in their day, a lot of people thought they were cranks.

Personally, I am at least 99 out of 100 on the anti-conspiracy-theory scale. I am significantly confident that the new airport screening procedures will kill more Americans than they can reasonably be expected to save, on the basis of data, reason, and analysis.

When these Americans die as an indirect result of AIT & "pat-downs", it won't be because some conspiracy intended their deaths; rather, these tragic losses will be an unintended side-effect of policies enacted by mostly well-meaning persons.

In the US, the greatest dangers to liberty don't come from jack-booted storm troopers. They come from good people, who want to do good things, and for various reasons dismiss privacy, individual liberty, and human dignity, as trinkets to be shed lightly in moments of fear.

CarlDecember 14, 2010 7:44 PM

"liberty is a cherished value -- a thing worth protecting at cost of life, limb and treasure."
--Can somone define this for me? This thing that only a select few seem to "cherish" and everyone else either doesnt care a whit about or is determined to annihilate?

"I am significantly confident that the new airport screening procedures will kill more Americans than they can reasonably be expected to save, on the basis of data, reason, and analysis"
--that would be interesting, please proceed to demonstrate how installation of AIT machines will kill passengers.

BTW, Ben didnt write about those "who would trade liberty for safety"
he wrote about those who would "give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety"
but, dont let what he actually said get in the way... you were really rolling there :-)

Doktor JonDecember 14, 2010 7:51 PM

@ Clive Robinson,

V. interesting response Clive, but the obvious difficulty is where we tend to have to look at situations often in somewhat general terms.

Much of what you say I'd readily agree with, but if I was inclined to play 'devils advocado', we could probably between us put together a reasonable size chapter on each of the individual points you mentioned

For example, taking the issue of CCTV Operator efficiency, fatigue with or without relevance to scene content and image overload, could be further compounded by motivation (or lack of...), professionalism, instinctive / natural ability for the task, diligence, physical condition, general health, socialising the night before, or let's face it any one of perhaps a couple of dozen different factors that determine whether an observer is able / equipped to do their job most effectively, at any particular moment throughout their shift.

But then if we're starting from the basis that an "active" monitored system is the most appropriate configuration for all aspects of Public Space Surveillance, then quite obviously the answer should be no.

You touched on the quite complex issue of "scene environment", but then of course if we try and define what type of targets are justified for observation, apart from the obvious such as inebriated and aggressive individuals, how would an operator know which of perhaps a dozen subjects 'in camera' would be most worthy of closer attention?

Significant aspects of CCTV operation have never been properly researched, and that's not just a UK thing, that's a global deficit.

Interesting to note that in some respects, there does appear to be some degree of convergence now between the civil liberties perspective on CCTV, and some PSS CCTV Operators, perhaps because to some extent the writings on the wall for how systems have historically been deployed and operated.

In terms of PSS operations, the money's running out, the honeymoon is over, and now more than ever we need to get back to basics and make sure that where CCTV is used, it's done in an appropriate and responsible way, which best meets the needs of all stakeholders, and that should of course include the general public who in the great scheme of things are after all the ones that usually end up paying for it.

We may live in uncertain times, but as sure as I was discussing many of these issues decades ago, I dare say they'll still be topics for conversation, for decades to come.

DaveDecember 15, 2010 1:52 AM

>You have to remember the context: this was in New Zealand, where if the police
>get called about violence on the streets, they show up very quickly indeed; in the
>Hamilton CBD, probably within two minutes.

Given that Collingwood is two blocks from the Hamilton central police station, I'd have expected them to get there within two minutes :-). It really was a somewhat special combination of circumstances that made this possible.

Geek ProphetDecember 15, 2010 12:50 PM

@Carl

"'The [AIT machine | CCTV | CRB background checks] can't provide TOTAL security , so they dont provide ANY security (or at best such an astonishingly low amount of security) and are therefor useless'
--that is no strawman on my part, that is precisely bruces argument"

I considered taking this blatant misrepresentation of Bruce's argument apart piece by piece, as it is not only incorrect but even directly contradicts what Bruce has said on multiple occasions. Somebody else watching this debate might gain something from my doing this.

However, you placed your representation of Bruce's argument *in quotations*, thus falsely claiming that Bruce actually said exactly that. This is not an isolated incident, as you have done this on past occasions, as well.

This saves me a bit of trouble, as simply pointing out this fundamental dishonesty in your arguments should be sufficient in and of itself to discredit you.

CarlDecember 15, 2010 9:31 PM

@geek
placing that text "in quotations" merely indicates (in my opinion) that it is grabbed from a previous post.
As the rest of my post clearly indicates, I am not claiming that Bruce made that statement, rather that the statement captures his arguments on the subject based on the example that I proceed to show in the article he penned: "Spy Cameras Won't Make Us Safer"

fairly straight forward...
-----------------------------
"The [AIT machine | CCTV | CRB background checks] can't provide TOTAL security , so they dont provide ANY security (or at best such an astonishingly low amount of security) and are therefor useless"
--that is no strawman on my part, that is precisely bruces argument:
a) article title: "Spy Cameras Won't Make Us Safer"
b) "the cameras didn't prevent the assassination" wow, really? that's an indictment of the camera? AFTER the incident, its always easy to connect the dots.. before, and during, it ISNT. that's life.
c) "as far as we know have they helped as yet in identifying the killers" broadcasting pictures didnt help at all? really? and you know this because you are completly plugged into the security investigation? really?
d) conclusion: they didnt provide total security, so they are useless and need to go. No acknowledgement what so ever of the incremental security.
-------------------------------

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