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10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime 414

Mike writes "London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million but an analysis of the publicly funded spy network has cast serious doubt on its ability to help solve crime. In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average. The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any. Could this be an effective argument against the proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply ignore the facts and press ahead?"
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10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime

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  • three ways... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:55PM (#20691337)

    A drop in crime is evidence that the cameras work. An increase in crime is evidence that more cameras are necessary.

    You forgot one: "unchanging crime levels mean the cameras kept crime from getting worse, and removing them would mean an explosion of crime." It'd be like firing cops; no politician who wants to keep his or her office would dare do it, even if it a sound decision. The slightest crime, and victims will blame the official, and the press will be more than happy to stick the microphone in front of their face while they do it.

    The MBTA (which shockingly reversed its decades-old policy of prohibiting cameras on MBTA property) had been going nuts installing "high resolution digital cameras" around the system. Not anywhere on the platforms, mind you- but at the fare gates.

    They blew a lot of smoke to the two competing pulp-journalism freebies (Metro and "Boston Now", which litter the system) about how great the cameras were, how they'd catch anyone jumping fares, etc. Grabauskas bragged about the "high resolution" cameras, and both rags printed images of a guy kicking a gate in (yep. They're that weak- a decent kick will take them out of commission.) The photo was embarassingly bad- you could barely tell it was a guy, and barely ID what he was wearing. The image was low-resolution, blurry, over-compressed, and full of noise.

    Oh, and they didn't seem to help when two kids shot up another kid on the Orange line (the MBTA police's response was to transfer the entire trainload of passengers onto busses and hold them for pat-down searches. This was despite witnesses repeatedly stating that the two shooters immediately fled the scene and left the station. They still haven't been found, months later.)

    Also, if you're in North Station on the platform for outbound, take a look at the couple of cameras situated at the end of the platform closest to the "Garden". You'll note one is a FLIR camera, pointed into the tunnel. What the hell for?

    North Station is also where the MBTA police regularly conduct forced "screenings", usually during rush-hour. For those who don't know: North Station is where people transfer from the orange/green lines to the commuter lines to get home. The MBTA police, like complete idiots, park their vehicles up in front of the station (which is a giant "hey, there's a "random search" thing going on here!" sign), and then stop people trying to get home (where missing a train can mean you don't get home for another 1-2 hours or more.)

  • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:30PM (#20691647) Journal
    You only quoted part of the statement:

    In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average. The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

    I agree with you that the first sentence is meaningless in assessing the effectiveness of the cameras but the second is not. The cameras are supposed to deter crime by making it easier to catch the criminals. If the latter is not the case then they will not act as a deterent. Of course to know this you would want to understand a lot more: does the amount of crime mke it harder to catch the criminals? Is this statistic based on the fraction or absolute rate of crimes solved? etc.

    Now, I'll admit that I've only read the summary, but it should be safe to assume that the summary will contain the most important statistics

    I agree that it should be safe to assume this but given that the writer of the summary has clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding of relevant statistics it is clearly not a safe assumption in this case!
  • by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:49AM (#20692649)
    Already illegal in some states. For example see Florida's XLVI c876.12 to .15:

    876.15 Wearing mask, hood, or other device at demonstration or meeting.

    --No person or persons over 16 years of age, shall, while wearing a mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, hold any manner of meeting, make any demonstration upon the private property of another unless such person or persons shall have first obtained from the owner or occupier of the property his or her written permission to so do.
  • I thought something very similar when I started reading the story, but the combinations of boroughs changed my mind. There are so many factors involved in crime clear up rate that this story is still fairly worthless (and it is from the evening standard, who love moaning about anything they can lay their hands on [thesurrealist.co.uk]).

    So, we have 5 'High camera' boroughs, they're all officially classed as inner london and have a correspondingly high crime rate. Of the 5 high camera boroughs, 2 sets of 2 are neighbours, Lewisham and Greenwich and Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Hackney and Tower Hamlets are an interesting pair, one has an above average clear up rate, and one has a lower than average clear up rate. These two boroughs between them (tower hamlets in whole and southern hackney) constitute the East End, traditionally thought of as one of the worst slums in Europe. The area consists mostly of social housing and old victorian terraces (for the gentrifiers), both boroughs have a stonkingly high crime rate (especially Hackney, which has a feirce reputation for drugs, guns and violent crime). Discussing the subtle differences between the boroughs (of which there are many) is outside the scope of the post, my point is that the factors that effect crime are broadly similar, as is the crime rate and number of cameras. Some other factor is effecting the clear up rate.

    As for the low camera boroughs, the average price for a house in 'The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea' is now over $2,000,000US and Sutton is an affluent southwestern suburb flirting with rural Surrey with one of the lowest crime rates in London. Waltham Forest however is home to some of the poorest and most deprived neighbourhoods in London, lying just NE of Hackney.

    My point is that to look at the clear up rate and number of CCTV cameras is really oversimplistic, but that's what the evening standard does.
  • by aj50 ( 789101 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:07AM (#20694127)
    CCTV footage is also used to help determine the nature and seriousness of a crime once a criminal has been caught. Even if the footage is not clear enough to positively identify someone, it's still useful for seeing what actually happened (e.g. was the attacker being threatened).
  • by aslate ( 675607 ) <planetexpress@PARISgmail.com minus city> on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:27AM (#20694185) Homepage
    We used the CCTV network to backtrack the bombers and to find out about their network. We also used the CCTV to capture and prosecute the 21/7 bombers whose devices failed to detonate correctly.
  • by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @07:07AM (#20694339)
    I'll presume that was a joke, but my sarcasm detectors are on low today.

    PS: I'm urinating all over your living room floor right now. It's good for the carpets.
  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @12:06PM (#20711317)
    I'm sorry, but all men are born with an innate right to defend themselves from others and the government. You government takes away your innate rights. People are born with the right to life, liberty and to pursue their dreams and to property, so long as they do no deprive others of their right to live, liberty and property. All people have the right to speak freely, the internet you are using to try and advocate stripping my rights is far more free than your press, all people have the right to self defense against tyranny and crime, all people have the right against search and seizure without proper warrant, all people have the right to not self incriminate, and the right against double jeopardy, all people have the right to a jury of peers and a public speedy trial, and all people have the right to a punishment that is not cruel or unusual.

    I'm sorry your horrible government cant enumerate rights for you. We believe, and have shown, that free people do thrive. Your government executes more people each year than are murdered in the USA, and your government is guilty of killing tens of millions.

    Lets have a list of what PROC/China is up to of late:

    The PRC Chinese government has murdered countless people:

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.TAB1.GIF [hawaii.edu]

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.FIG1.GIF [hawaii.edu]

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM [hawaii.edu]

    China tires recalled:
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/06/26/business/26tire.php [iht.com]

    The organising committee of Beijing's Olympic games has promised to investigate charges that official merchandise is being manufactured using child labour.

    The PRC Chinese poison dog food:
    http://www.themoneytimes.com/articles/20070523/chinese_protein_export_scandal-id -104033.html [themoneytimes.com]

    The PRC Chinese poison toothpaste:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/02/us/02toothpaste.html?ex=1181620800&en=d26dab8b 2bd85303&ei=5070 [nytimes.com]

    The PRC Chinese poison Children's Toys:
    http://consumerist.com/consumer/chinese-poison-train/15-million-thomas--friends- toys-recalled-due-to-lead-paint-from-china-268658.php [consumerist.com]
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070614/thomas_recall_07061 4/20070614?hub=CTVNewsAt11 [www.ctv.ca]
    http://blogs.eastbayexpress.com/92510/2007/06/thomas_why_hath_thou_forsaken.php [eastbayexpress.com]

    Chinese Seafood Detained for Safety
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070628/D8Q239O00.html [myway.com]

    CNN "The China Syndrome" Special on China's dire problems in keeping food clean:
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/business/2007/07/04/vause.china.syndrome.cnn [cnn.com]

    - Cow milk so inundated with antibiotics you can not make Yogurt from it.

    - Pigs force-fed waste water.

    - Lard made from separating fats from sewage.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,,2118920,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

    China Jails 2 Protestant Church Leaders

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats