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CCTVs Don't Work in the UK 571

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the your-rights-offline dept.
ShakaUVM writes "People who give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, the saying goes. But what happens when people give up so much liberty their entire country resembles an Orweillean dystopia — but the pervasive monitoring doesn't help to solve any crimes? That's what is happening in the United Kingdom today. While the Guardian tries to put a good spin on the entire fiasco, the fact remains that CCTVs only help with 3% of all street robberies, the very crimes they were supposed to be best at protecting. Should England finally move to eliminate its troubling state surveillance program?"
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CCTVs Don't Work in the UK

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  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:16PM (#23325064) Homepage Journal

    Should England finally move to eliminate its troubling state surveillance program?"
    At the risk of being arrested for treason, I say "yes, they should."
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:20PM (#23325160) Journal
      More to the point, other countries (like mine) should look to England's failed example and refuse to follow it.
      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:34PM (#23325516)

        More to the point, other countries (like mine) should look to England's failed example and refuse to follow it.
        That's the precise reason I actually liked the UK to install the system. I know, I'm a selfish bastard, but it did work as many people outside the UK expected.

        It's the same reason to be happy about RIAA strategy. They fail so badly their tactics will be much harder to use anywhere else.
        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:54PM (#23325946) Journal
          I'd like to see those cameras made available to the public to scrutinize at their leisure. They would be effective if they were.

          I envision a system where every person has a personal recorder that they carry around, and all the output of public cameras is mirrored and shared in a fashion that made it difficult to tamper with. Something along the lines of Freenet, except simplified by the fact that you don't have to anonymize the sources.

          Any time there was a contested event, it would be possible to examine the footage from the CCTVs and from the personal data recorders of both parties. Barring a sophisticated attack, this would give you the facts right away. And, if someone tried to tamper with the public record and there were any anomilies, then you could start looking at where they came from with lots of forensic data available.

          This would have all sorts of rewards... we would be able to watch the watchers, and we would be able to clearly see those ill conceived laws that are being casually broken all over the place so we could remove them from the books. This would protect us from selective enforcement of laws that aren't meant to be obeyed, but only grant power to the rulers.

          • by BarneyL (578636) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:25PM (#23326504)

            I'd like to see those cameras made available to the public to scrutinize at their leisure. They would be effective if they were.
            There was a trial of doing just this (in Liverpool I believe).
            Ironically [theregister.co.uk] it was so popular its viewing beat those of the last Big Brother series at some times of the day.
          • old ladies (Score:4, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:30PM (#23326614)

            I'd like to see those cameras made available to the public to scrutinize at their leisure. They would be effective if they were.
            Yes, what we need is control centres open to all pensioners. This has several great benefits:

            1. we get an army of CCTV operators more than willing to ensure that any misdemeanour does not go unnoticed.
            2. we keep the OAPs off the streets, and put them in a safe, warm environment
            3. the investment in CCTVs pays off as every camera gets a dedicated viewer.
            4. respect for pensioners increases as every young buck would know that to insult an OAP would have them on the lookout for him.

            Obviously this would be good for society and keep the pensioners happy as they love nothing better than sitting around watching what's going on.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DECS (891519)
            "I'd like to see those cameras made available to the public to scrutinize at their leisure. They would be effective if they were."

            Are you nuts or just being funny? Do you think the community makes a good police force? Ever heard of a mob?

            You'd have petty bitches using it to harass people, identity thieves and stalkers using it to spy on people, and spammers would find a way to inject ads into the feeds (cardboard signs?). You know, just like the Intarweb.

            Making available clips of a crime might possibly help
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              If it wasn't effective, it wouldn't be a big industry.

              If it wasn't THOUGHT TO BE effective, it wouldn't be a big industry.

              Fixed that. A good ad campaign can convince anyone that they really desperately need this new security device. Note that my wife's family used to go that route - alarm, cameras, the works. They thought it was great that they were protected from robbery and other unpleasantness.

              Came a time that they decided not to bother paying for the thing anymore - still not sure why. Since then

        • by Morosoph (693565) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:56PM (#23325978) Homepage Journal

          That's the precise reason I actually liked the UK to install the system. I know, I'm a selfish bastard, but it did work as many people outside the UK expected.

          It's the same reason to be happy about RIAA strategy. They fail so badly their tactics will be much harder to use anywhere else.

          You're optimistic. In politics, results do not feature strongly in the feedback cycle; politicians are not typically looking to see whether a policy achieves its purported end, but rather that it will be tolerated by the people.

          That is: experiments test feasibility to a politician, not utility.

          The politician's mode of thinking is not strongly connected to any kind of scientific reasoning, but rather to correct intent ("evil" must be "fought against") and, to some extent, social theory. They understand democracy as a check upon the excesses of "theory", but they do not consider theory in the scientific sense, but rather in the social science sense.

          Is it any wonder that politicians and their kin in management talk of the "difference between theory and practice"?

          • by lysse (516445) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:55PM (#23327012)

            In politics, results do not feature strongly in the feedback cycle; politicians are not typically looking to see whether a policy achieves its purported end, but rather that it will be tolerated by the people.

            And unfortunately, freedom-limiting measures are welcomed by a majority of people on this sceptred isle - two such examples are ID cards (which were overwhelmingly popular until it emerged that people were going to have to pay for them - and not just a token "don't lose it" fee) and 42-day detention without trial (which remains popular with just about everyone, because they somehow believe that it'll "only catch the bad guys"). My family still live in the town which first proclaimed that it had 100% CCTV coverage, and they said it made them feel safer - even though my brother-in-law has been hauled over by police a couple of times for trying to use an ATM at midnight. Yet it doesn't appear to have made the King's Lynn I remember (and ran the hell away from a decade ago) any less prone to violence or vandalism...

            The great advantage of having perception define reality, rather than vice versa, is that it merely requires that people trust their perception unquestioningly. Manipulate their perception and they'll swallow any bullshit you throw at them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pilgrim23 (716938)
            after all, http://sweetness-light.com/archive/wal-mart-looting-cops-get-cleared [sweetness-light.com]

            the whole idea of on camera stops crime. Yep. sure do.
      • by sorak (246725) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:48PM (#23325810)

        More to the point, other countries (like mine) should look to England's failed example and refuse to follow it.
        Nah. They'll look to England's failed example and say "ours will work because we're gonna privatize it"
    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:42PM (#23325670) Homepage

      If it weren't for the cameras, the pigs would've denied everything [yahoo.com].

      The debate, once again, should not be around a particular method of law-enforcement, but whether 100% effective law-enforcement is desirable...

      It means, you can not exceed speed-limit by 1 mile/h, nor drop a candy-wrap on the street, nor ask for money on subway. You will also not be beaten by a cop, nor will they be able to treat fire-hydrants as special parking spots reserved for "the force". Etcaetera...

      Do we want the laws obeyed and enforced 100%, or do we want to live some "wriggle-room" for the dystopian future, when it will be needed to fight some kind of oppression?

      • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:49PM (#23325826) Homepage Journal

        If it weren't for the cameras, the pigs would've denied everything.

        Let me quote the article:

        The video, shot by a WTXF-TV helicopter, shows three police cars stopping a car on the side of a road.

        So are you suggesting we use news choppers for surveillance? That article has NOTHING to do with CCTV.

        • by Cytotoxic (245301)

          The video, shot by a WTXF-TV helicopter, shows three police cars stopping a car on the side of a road.

          So are you suggesting we use news choppers for surveillance? That article has NOTHING to do with CCTV.

          I can't agree with you there... the implication of his commentary is more of pervasive camera surveillance, not solely the issue of government cameras - although those are in a different category. The parent comment is pretty insightful - pervasive camera coverage could prevent abuses by authorities, but also could be used to control any sort of opposition movement. How much are you willing to give up to get security? It is a slightly different version of the old freedom vs security adage. In this ver

      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:58PM (#23326008) Journal
        The debate, once again, should not be around a particular method of law-enforcement, but whether 100% effective law-enforcement is desirable...

        It means, you can not exceed speed-limit by 1 mile/h, nor drop a candy-wrap on the street, nor ask for money on subway. You will also not be beaten by a cop, nor will they be able to treat fire-hydrants as special parking spots reserved for "the force". Etcaetera...

        Do we want the laws obeyed and enforced 100%, or do we want to live some "wriggle-room" for the dystopian future, when it will be needed to fight some kind of oppression?


        I would say that yes, we want laws to be 100% enforced. But we need to get rid of 99% of the laws. The alternative is laws that everyone is guilty of violating, and enforcers who can immediately find a reason to arrest and convict anyone they see fit.
        • by ktappe (747125) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:23PM (#23327486)

          yes, we want laws to be 100% enforced
          Speak for yourself. I certainly don't want that. Laws that are 100% enforced completely ignore extenuating circumstances, which are all too common because the world is an analog place, not boolean. Real life almost never fits the vague, incorrect, or incomplete wording of the laws and it's simply not feasible to expect the laws to always cover every situation. Therefore justice requires that when a law is only being slightly violated or nobody is being hurt or a greater malfeasance would be incurred by enforcing the law, the law not be enforced. I could go on for days with examples just off the top of my head (running a stop sign on your bike if there are no cars in sight, loitering when waiting for a friend who is tardy, playing tennis for 5 minutes past the park closing time to finish the set, exceeding 55MPH to get safely past a 53MPH driver, etc.) Your draconian interpretation of laws and their enforcement is thankfully not followed and I rue the day it is.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ShieldW0lf (601553)
            Real life almost never fits the vague, incorrect, or incomplete wording of the laws and it's simply not feasible to expect the laws to always cover every situation.

            I disagree with the assumption that laws cannot cover every situation. It is entirely reasonable to think that we could make a much smaller set of laws that would cover every necessary situation. A great deal of what is currently regulated should not be regulated. There are vast areas of law that are about forcing people to behave in a fash
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Bet you wouldn't say that if you were the victim of the 3% that solved. 3% is not as insignificant as it sounds, 1 in 30, and that's not counted the fact there preventative too.
    • by ozymyx (813013) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:22PM (#23327478)
      Maybe not. I live in the USA and I'm from Britain. It's MUCH safer in Britain than the USA, deal with it. Would they have caught the July bombers without the CCTV ? I doubt it. My relatives in the UK don't care about the CCTV, the speed cameras are much more of a subject. The USA has the same big brother issues, except here it is more covert. At least in the UK you know you are being watched - in the USA who knows...
  • Exagerate much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rombuu (22914)
    Orwellian dystopia? I spend a few months over there earlier this year and must have missed that bit...
    • Re:Exagerate much? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:23PM (#23325224) Journal
      Orwell was an optimist.
    • Re:Exagerate much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:23PM (#23325226) Homepage

      Orwellian dystopia? I spend a few months over there earlier this year and must have missed that bit...

      Wasn't a major point of 1984 [amazon.com] that only a tiny amount of unusually sensitive people would recognize a totalitarian state for what it is? There was no hope in the proles in Orwell's future England because their lives were just as miserable before as after and they didn't have time to ruminate on things like Winston Smith and Julia. When Smith tried to ask an old man about former days, he couldn't seem to make any argument against the current state of things. Thanks to Smith's own work in the Ministry of Truth, the population couldn't actually read about how bad things really were.

      In this instance, I agree England is not yet an Orwellian dystopia. However, dystopias have a way of establishing themselves without many noticing.

    • Re:Exagerate much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by niko9 (315647) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#23325280)

      Orwellian dystopia? I spend a few months over there earlier this year and must have missed that bit...
      A little at a time my friend. Just a little at a time...
    • Re:Exagerate much? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:28PM (#23325348) Homepage
      I don't know, do you exaggerate much?

      The headline said "resembling an Orwellian dystopia". A city with government owned and monitored cameras at every corner does in fact resemble an Orwellian dystopia. Sounds like a perfectly sound comparison to me.

      Perhaps if you didn't inflate "resembles" to mean "is", you would have understood.
      • Re:Exagerate much? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:59PM (#23326018) Journal

        A city with government owned and monitored cameras at every corner does in fact resemble an Orwellian dystopia.
        And where, exactly, is this city? I live in a UK city and there are only a very small number of government-owned security cameras, and those are around government buildings or are traffic-monitoring cameras. Looking out of my window, I can't see a single camera.

        Or perhaps you are basing your comment on the headline from a year or two ago that took the number of security cameras (including private ones) per mile on the busiest shopping street in the UK and multiplied it by the number of miles of roads in the UK?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hognoxious (631665)
          I doubt the author's ever been to the UK, he probably couldn't even point to it on a map. And I bet he's fat, too.
    • That's because you're probably from China or the US and you're used to that kind of treatment. [/sarcasm]

      Okay, so it's not that bad, but that's because, unlike Winston, you don't actually see Big Brother's eyes tracking you.
  • That all those cameras you see are mostly funny. They can't actually do anything when they see it and anybody committing a crime knows that and also knows that a camera is easily fooled.
    • I completely agree. If Matt Damon can outmaneuver them how difficult can it be?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)
        The thing with our company's CCTV system is that the pictures it records to the HDD are so low res that you can't even make out people's faces. The video feed itself isn't too bad, but what's the use when the evidence is that poor? I'm not sure what official police CCTV records are like of course, hopefully they allow for more "the suspect was wearing a stripey jumper and a hat"
        • Re:I think... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by loteck (533317) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:48PM (#23325798) Homepage

          You seem to be operating under the notion that companies install CCTV systems to protect victims of crimes that occur on company property.

          This, however, is business and not altruism. Businesses need CCTV to protect themselves from prosecution and to ease the insurance claims process. For example, they need to know that some guy in a hoodie ran up to that old lady, threw her on to the ground and ran off, not that she slipped on the wet surface left by an employee. They definitely care about that. The identity of the attacker? Not so much. So the expenses surrounding the recording and storage of high-resolution images is simply overkill for the company's needs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by somersault (912633)
            Fair point, though the only times we've used our CCTV is to try and sort out who scratched what car in the car park, who it was that tried to steal a bunch of copper wire from our yard, who broke into that car across the road, etc etc. I can see how it would also be useful for full on corporate deniability though. Our main problem at the moment is that the lighting in some areas around the building is pretty poor, but they've STILL not done anything about that even after I specifically highlighted (no pun i
  • In a word, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jockeys (753885) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:17PM (#23325086) Journal
    Yes.

    I mean, is there really any doubt in anyone's mind? Continually infringing upon the privacy of the innocent does nothing to prevent the crimes of the guilty.
    • Re:In a word, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#23325294) Homepage Journal
      I didn't realise that I was entitled to so much privacy when I'm out in public!!
    • Perspective please (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:46PM (#23327832) Journal
      I'm more interested in how many crimes are prevented by the presence of CCTV. This is much harder to monitor, but deterrence is better than the post-crime investigation that the summary seems to be focussed on. I remember standing in many's a chip shop late at night and seeing potential fights diffused because the drunken potential fighters knew they were on camera. Also, I don't know why so many people on this thread have gone off into the weeds talking about 1984. Last time I checked, there was no Ministry of Truth in the UK, the media (particularly the BBC) give the government a grilling on a daily basis that would horrify the average American politician, and there is NOT a camera in everyone's bedroom.
  • The purpose it so be able to track political opposition. "Terrorism" and then crime were excuses.

  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:18PM (#23325114) Journal
    It seems most people think there is this huge government-funded network of cameras watching every move of every person in the UK - this just isn't the case. The vast majority (~80%) of this camera network are the ones in shops, on transport (buses, trains), on ATM's, etc. etc. In other words, they're privately owned and run for the benefit of the business owner, not for the police.

    Of the remainder, the vast majority of them are traffic-cameras at junctions, in speed-cameras (yes, these count, for some reason), etc. What's left are the police-owned ones which watch people in high-crime areas or (usually in partnership with the businesses) high-people-traffic areas (eg: Regent St., Oxford St. in London).

    I lived in London for ~15 years before moving to CA. I don't feel any less "observed" here than I did in London. I'm on-camera in CA if I get money from an ATM; if I drive across a junction (try looking up once in a while); if I get on the BART; if I get on Caltrain; if I go to a bank;

    I really wish people would stop pandering to the tabloid press trying to sell copy. Sure, there are cameras. Everywhere(*). Deal.

    Simon

    (*)Well, every country I've been to, anyway.
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:32PM (#23325454) Homepage Journal
      Well said sir. And, as the article explains -- far more even handedly than slashdot's biased summary -- the reason that CCTV footage doesn't help solve crimes is because no-one ever looks at it.

      Yes folks, slashdot's latest evidence that the UK is a surveillance society is a report that states that no-one ever looks at the CCTV footage. But our summarisers have never let the facts get in the way of a good knee jerk.
      • by WK2 (1072560) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:46PM (#23325762) Homepage
        Perhaps most of the footage never gets seen. That makes sense; there is just too much of it. However, if they get reports of people protesting, or handing out opinionated fliers, they have that footage, and the opportunity to do something about it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dreamchaser (49529)
          Exactly! I'd mod you insightful if I had the points today. It's not even about stopping crime. That's just a ploy along the lines of 'Think of the children' or 'We need to go get the WMD'. It's about having the infrastructure in place to engage in pervasive monitoring of citizens in the future.

          I'm not saying it's a true conspiracy born in smoke filled rooms over glasses of single malt, though it may be. Governments are entities of their own and act as such. They will continue to grow and try to take mo
      • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:00PM (#23326040) Homepage
        Yes folks, slashdot's latest evidence that the UK is a surveillance society is a report that states that no-one ever looks at the CCTV footage

        Don't forget that the oft-reported massive figure for the number of CCTV cameras in the UK is *completely made up*. It's a fake figure. It was concocted by looking at the number of CCTV cameras on a section of the main street of a particularly rough part of London which was deliberately chosen because of the high numbers of CCTV cameras covering things like pawn shops, bookies, off-licences and cheque-cashing shops. Then this already artificially high figure was scaled up by multiplying by the amount of road in the whole of the UK. So, the number would be accurate if *every inch* of the UK's roads was like the middle of a particularly shitey area of London.

        It's not, though.

        Did you know that in the US, because it's legal for people to walk around with guns, *every single American* is robbed at gunpoint *every day*? No, you didn't did you? But it's true! It said so on the Internet!
    • by ahabswhale (1189519) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @02:08PM (#23327230)
      Well you don't pay very close attention then. London has over 10,000 CCTVs that are GOVERNMENT crime cameras. That number does not include cameras from private businesses or ATM machines, etc. It's extremely hypocritical of you to whine about the tabloids when you are, in fact, acting like a tabloid (saying shit without backing it up with any facts).

      Here's a link for you: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23412867-details/Tens+of+thousands+of+CCTV+cameras,+yet+80%25+of+crime+unsolved/article.do [thisislondon.co.uk]

  • The Real Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:18PM (#23325124) Journal

    CCTVs Don't Work in the UK
    I think the real question is, have they ever worked this way anywhere?

    Sure, they work on homes or parking lots where the crook can just walk down the block to a non-camera lot but it's not like the crooks in the UK are going to boat over to the next island that doesn't have mass CCTV, is it?
    • Any security measure that you can foil by putting a mask over your face (and perhaps waddling like a penguin so that they can't identify you by your walk.. unless of course they make everyone in the lineup waddle around.. but you can fool them by waddling with a limp) isn't really much of a security measure.
  • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:18PM (#23325128)
    Obviously if the CCTV cameras we have today only help prevent 3% of crimes, then we need about 33x more cameras!
    All hail our great overseers!
    • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:27PM (#23325330)
      Actually I was being extremely sarcastic with the above response (Normally I wouldn't bother saying, but you can never be sure with some people around here...).

      Anyway, I grew up in Belfast. For those of you who are unaware, we've had a spot of trouble there over the last few decades. It's not as bad these days as it has been, but still to this day there are certain areas you simply don't go near in case something happens.

      One of these "flash points" was just down the road from me, it was at a bridge that linked a Protestant estate with a Catholic one. Naturally, people who tried to cross this bridge were usually targeted by those waiting at the other side.

      Unfortunately, there wasn't really an alternative route to get from one side to the other, that was less than 90mins in the opposite direction.

      Naturally, there was always fighting and/or rioting on this bloody bridge (which went over a motorway - I'm sure you can imagine the potential risks of falling bricks and bottles there) and more than a couple of people got seriously injured on it - some even died.

      Then one day they put a CCTV camera there. Actually, they put a big post there for the CCTV camera to be attached to and it IMMEDIATELY stopped nearly all violence on and around this bridge. Even before the camera was attached, it was enough to scare the little shits that started all of this away and now it's relatively safe to walk by there.

      That alone is enough for me to have faith in the CCTV systems. They may not help in solving crimes, but they definitely do help PREVENT them, which I think is much more important.

      This is just my experience, though, yours may differ.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm really happy that they were able to clean up this bridge. That's wonderful.

        But according to this article, blanketing the nation with CCTV doesn't have the same effect on either the city of London or the country as a whole. Implementing mass surveillance of all Her Majesty's subjects going about their daily business neither reduces crime nor leads to significantly more convictions.

        CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure, [but] ... It's been an utter fiasco ... There's no fear of CCTV.

        I think I can understand your happiness about having a notoriously dangerous bridge pacified, but this approach doesn't

  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:19PM (#23325138) Journal
    In fact, the thought that they could help if I were to be in a tight-spot is actually reassuring. People think twice about doing stupid things if they know there's an eye in the sky watching them.

    I have however had one objection; I caught one blatantly checking me and one ex-girlfriend "making out" (let's say) in a park once. The dirty bastard on the end even nodded the camera at me in recognition I'd caught him watching it all.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      You're legally allowed to find out who owns the camera and request a copy of the footage under the data protection act. If the footage looks exactly like you say it did - just a couple making out, and not a possible rape or something - then you can take it up with the owner.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:32PM (#23325448) Homepage

      In fact, the thought that they could help if I were to be in a tight-spot is actually reassuring. People think twice about doing stupid things if they know there's an eye in the sky watching them.

      But, that doesn't seem to be the case. People aren't concerned about it:

      It's been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There's no fear of CCTV. Why don't people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working."

      More training was needed for officers, he said. Often they do not want to find CCTV images "because it's hard work".

      That doesn't sound like people are worried about the eye in the sky at all. It sounds like they're ignoring it, and the police are finding the system too damned awkward to actually retrieve the useful images.

      I have however had one objection; I caught one blatantly checking me and one ex-girlfriend "making out" (let's say) in a park once. The dirty bastard on the end even nodded the camera at me in recognition I'd caught him watching it all.

      First off, kudos for the public shag.

      But, how can you on the one hand say you don't mind the eye in the sky, and on the other hand be somewhat surprised that the bored operator wouldn't zoom in on that if he saw you doing something naughty in a park? If you know they're watching, why would you be surprised they actually did watch?

      I mean, it's not like the police are swamping the operators with requests for the images. In all likelihood, he and a bunch of guys pass around copies of all the public nookie they observe. I'm sure there's a whole underground trade in CCTV porn -- from what I hear, there should be a lot of material in the UK. :-P

      Cheers
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Those types of videos have been showing up on the popular surveillance camera TV clip shows. You might want to keep an eye out for that. Would it change your opinion any to know that anything that's videotaped at any time could end up being broadcast on television internationally without your consent?
  • Funnily enough, they have different names because they mean different things. I think the mention of "England" at the end of the article should have matched the title.
  • Oh please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the computer guy nex (916959) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:22PM (#23325202)

    People who give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, the saying goes.

    Don't compare the opression Benjamin Franklin and our other founding fathers lived through with a few cameras in public areas. These monitor the same things that any police officer can without a warrant.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      NO! How can we feel outraged if we don't blow it out of all proportion and forget that public!=private!?!

      I agree entirely. Unless these cameras are in your house, then there is no problem. Unless you're the sort of person that screams at folks who accidentally look at them in the street, they're not doing anything bad at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by freedom_india (780002)
      Hmmm...so you say every police officer is present 24 hours a day and record digitally in his brain every movement you make, along with an ability to replay it on demand to anyone, BUT unfortunately can't even stop a crime in process???

      That's what you mean when you say a CCTV monitors what a cop without a warrant does.

      Let's be reasonable here: CCTV was NEVER EVER meant to solve crime. It was meant to keep tabs on people and was sold by companies to government on the premise they could solve crimes.
      If you RTF
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by susano_otter (123650)

        Let's be reasonable here: CCTV was NEVER EVER meant to solve crime. It was meant to keep tabs on people and was sold by companies to government on the premise they could solve crimes.

        So let me get this straight: The reasonable position is that the same system that can't effectively keep tabs on something as obvious as a mugger can instead effectively keep tabs on something as vague as a "subversive"?

        Enlighten me, please. How, exactly, does "can't solve crimes, can keep tabs on people" actually work?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Erioll (229536)

      People who give up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, the saying goes.

      Don't compare the opression Benjamin Franklin and our other founding fathers lived through with a few cameras in public areas. These monitor the same things that any police officer can without a warrant.

      Not to mention that the quote is wrong [wikiquote.org]:

      Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

      Those words "essential" and "temporary" are kinda key there, but of course they're always omitted by those who don't like ANY restrictions against being an ass, or believe "it's not wrong if you don't get caught." Quite different than "essential" liberties.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rary (566291)

        Those words "essential" and "temporary" are kinda key there...

        Exactly. In fact, omitting those words makes every one of us deserving of neither liberty nor security, as the very concept of a systems of laws is the sacrificing of liberty for security.

        I give up my liberty to kill anyone who pisses me off in return for the security of knowing that I'm not likely to get killed by someone who I pissed off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)

      These monitor the same things that any police officer can without a warrant.
      Except that he couldn't store it, send it to a computer for face or license-plate recognition, then search for every other clip with you in it.
  • Orwell... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:22PM (#23325214) Homepage
    Ummm lets do that 1984 Checklist

    1) Government declares an unwinable war against a changing opponent and people listen - Nope, most brits were against Iraq and almost everyone (even some in government) think it was the wrong target in retrospect.
    2) Government demonstrates effective control over people - nope they can't even hold onto CDs
    3) Government enforces complete control of society and the media - Nope, they get slated everywhere
    4) Abandonment of the rule of law when they choose - nope they can't even get the detention extension they want

    Ahh but there are CCTV cameras which catch bugger all information. Maybe the CCTV cameras should go but lets be clear this isn't about liberty and security its purely a cost control mechanism, its a free market decision in otherwords.

    Go and read 1984 before talking about dystopia and ask yourself where you can find a country that actively spys on its citizens and where senior people state they are above the rule of law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CSMatt (1175471)
      Now let's apply this checklist to America:
      1) Government declares an unwinable war against a changing opponent and people listen - Yep. Some people still think that our original reason for invading Iraq was to bring democracy to the Iraqis.
      2) Government demonstrates effective control over people - It's called "propaganda." I've seen far more of it in the US ever since 9/11.
      3) Government enforces complete control of society and the media - Why do you think we have a "White House press secretary"? I'll gran
  • I love this snippet from the article":

    He said that there were discussions with biometric companies "on a regular basis" about developing the technology to search digitised databases and match suspects' images with known offenders. "Sometimes when they put their [equipment] in operational practice, it's not as wonderful as they said it would be, " he said. "I suspect [Find] has been put on hold until the technology matures.

    I mean, really, say it aint so!! A company sold you something with the promise it cou

  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#23325274) Journal
    Are the cameras in Scotland, Wales, or the other parts of the United Kingdom any better at helping to solve street crime?
  • by GrifterCC (673360) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#23325286)
    The idea behind CCTVs is deterrence, right? We disincentivize street crime by raising the chances that the criminal will get caught. Except, when has getting caught bothered a criminal? The CCTV system assumes a set of motivations that the average well-off, law-abiding citizen has. But most robbers are not robbing for sport; either they're dirt-poor, or they're addicts. Getting out of heroin withdrawal is such a strong desire that the threat of jail becomes abstract in comparison. So what if the cameras see me?
    • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:36PM (#23325562)
      No, their main use is evidence gathering. Deterrence is secondary. If someone goes bat-shit-crazy and attacks someone, no amount of cameras (or guns or death penalties or dolphins or whatever) will stop that. If, though, a CCTV operator (or witness on the street) sees it, then the cops can pick the person up and charge them. CCTV is just a way to get more evidence. They're also used to covertly follow suspects as they move through a city. I saw CCTV with loud speakers stop a guy who was running from the cops. He kept on running, and the same guy kept on talking to him from all the CCTV cameras he passed - "I can still see you - you can't get away". He didn't. The CCTV operator guided the cops to him, and he was arrested.
  • 3% of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noa (4909) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:26PM (#23325324) Homepage
    The point put forward in TFA is that the risk of being on camera is a preventive measure. The 3% figure is a meaningless figure when it comes to measuring the preventive effect in my opinion. When measuring efficiency, one would like to know the relative frequency of street robberies before and after a CCTV introduction.

    I'm skeptical that the system brings benefits to outweigh the cost, but we should at least argue honestly about the system's alleged efficiency.
  • If the cameras don't work, then how much harm could they have possibly done to liberty? The police state Chicken Littles aren't rational and can be ignored.

    What articles like this make me think, is "how can I make these cameras work to fight crime better?"
  • by piltdownman84 (853358) <piltdownman84&mac,com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:44PM (#23325726)
    The introduction on CCTV (as well as new stadium improvements and regulations recommended in the Taylor Report) are credited with ending mainstream hooliganism in England. CCTV was used to find those responsible for acts of unruly and destructive behaviour associated with football matches and punish them. For me this is enough reason to support CCTV.

    But then again I don't really have a problem with being filmed while in public ... after all it is in public.
  • Heathrow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prakslash (681585) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:45PM (#23325736)
    So, I was in London in November.

    At Heathrow, my laptop needed re-charging. So, I found a power socket, and sat down and started inserting my power converter/adapter into it. The thing looks like an ordinary wall-mounted brick adapter.

    Within 5 minutes, I was surrounded by three guys in uniform asking me what I was doing.
    I said I am just trying to charge my laptop.

    They looked at the adapter, then at the laptop, then at my face. They just stood there looking confused not saying anything. I picked up my stuff, said thanks and just walked away. They didnt follow me or anything.

    Weird.

    Having surveillance is fine but having smarter people who know how to analyze what they see is even more important.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vidarh (309115)
      At Heathrow it really depends _where_ you do it. In the regular waiting areas nobody cares.

      Out towards the piers they do care, in particular because they have no real separation of the streams of passengers arriving and departing, and they clearly do not trust that arriving passengers have been properly checked on departured. I was once forced to go out through security and back in again because I went out to the pier too early, was told to go back and took a wrong turn that brought me about 20 meters dow

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:06PM (#23326160) Journal
    In my part of the UK, the spy cameras were installed under the pretext of protecting the people, only the idiots bought that excuse, and they've been proved to be mostly useless for that proported use.

    April 2008, the law in the UK was changed by the government which now allows any official spy camera to be used for "traffic enforcement" (more easy money).

    Lo and behold one week into this new scheme, in my local area a woman was attacked and sexually assaulted at a bus stop while waiting for a bus. What happened we'll never 100% know, because the camera operator was more interested in catching motorists going in a wrong lane, then to record video of tha assault and catch the guy that did the assault (what the camera was installed for in the first place).

    The whole camera installation nationwide is for state surveillance of you, and it feels really uncomfortable knowing you are being filmed walking or driving around, whilst criminals remain untouchable and don't give a damn about the cameras.

    Resist the cameras in your country, or suffer the surveillance fate of the UK.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @04:05AM (#23334784)
    The number of posts here in support of England's CCTV system is amazing. --When you believe you can't fight something, it's easier to believe that you actually like it.


    Morpheus: "The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. "


    -FL

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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