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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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  • The answer is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by llamalad ( 12917 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:32PM (#20691113)
    Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.
  • Bad statistics. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solafide ( 845228 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:35PM (#20691133) Homepage

    "In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average." All this suggests is that those boroughs have a lot of crime, and as a result extra security cameras were installed. It would be unwise to judge the efficacy of security cameras based on these statistics alone, since surely the very reason the cameras are there is because those areas are already predisposed to crime?

    is the first comment by RandomVisitor on the story at Bruce Schneier's blog []. It's really quite true; we can't judge based on these statistics whether it's working or not.

  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:36PM (#20691147)
    A drop in crime is evidence that the cameras work.

    An increase in crime is evidence that more cameras are necessary.
  • by Pizaz ( 594643 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:37PM (#20691163)
    Once you start arguing effectiveness then all it takes is a new study to show that it's still promising technology and that it just needs to be continued/improved/advanced/made more comprehensive/etc.

    Dont fall into the trap of arguing the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of something that we already know has nothing to do with crime.
  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:41PM (#20691205) Journal
    The study (or at least what was published in this article) says nothing about the rate of crimes solved before the cameras. The study doesn't talk about other issues like police force funding Nothing about the demographics of each borough. So while it may be true that cameras don't stop crime or help to solve it, there is nothing in this article to support that assertion.
  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:42PM (#20691221) Journal
    They just need a better system. Right now, they're running the video through a 'youtube' filter, so the video's downsampled and compressed to hell, so everyone looks like Elmer Fudd. But, the system is backwards compatible to work with Windows 95!

    And they also need speakers, so when they view the live video, and they see someone commit a crime, like say, jaywalking, they can order the offender to stop and wait for a bobby to come and arrest them. Or, if they look trustworthy, to walk to the nearest police station and turn themselves in.

    Of course, this is meant to be funny, but if a politician reads it, they might think it's insightful [unfortunately]...
  • on another hand.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zome ( 546331 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:42PM (#20691223)
    The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

    on another hand, if I want to do crime, I wouldn't want to do it in place that has hundreds of cameras.

    If the cameras help reducing crime rate, then they work.
  • by wes33 ( 698200 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:44PM (#20691243)
    The point of these cameras is not to make people safer, but to make people *feel* safer. Last I heard, the Brits love the things ...
  • Poor analysis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andrew Aguecheek ( 767620 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:48PM (#20691261)

    The cameras are not there to catch criminals, but to deter them. Those who would otherwise be committing crimes in full catchable view of the cameras are no longer doing so.

    Don't get me wrong, I like my privacy as much as the next /.er but accuracy is important.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:52PM (#20691299) Homepage Journal
    Yes that's how science works.

    Hypothesise at random, spend a wad or two on well-connected suppliers and contractors, in the absence of empirical validation of the utility or necessity.

    Then declare on failure to achieve any result at all that one has now acquired a valid data point.

    Hmmm.... Better try this again, with a different type of camera! Then - at worst - we'll have eliminated two possibilites, at the bargain cost of 400 Million!

    GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD! Crime is the excuse used to end dissent. If there were political protest of any size, you can bet the participants would have all been ID'd and added to the "terror" database.

    V for Vendetta.
  • Confusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:54PM (#20691323) Journal
    Don't confuse the politicians with facts, they have demagoguery to accomplish.

    Seriously, when did "facts" actually figure into politics. Everything is emotion. "Its for the children", "War on _______", "help the homeless" etc are all emotional stimuli.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:54PM (#20691329)

    Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.
    The politicians aren't ignoring the facts. These cameras weren't bought to fight crime. That is only how they were sold.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:56PM (#20691353)
    Exactly. The only people who have anything to worry about from the cameras are the "law abiding" people who do not support the current government and are willing to be seen protesting.
  • Police (Score:5, Insightful)

    by photomonkey ( 987563 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:57PM (#20691363)

    Given the assumption that not all cops are bad, and going further saying that most cops are good, the solution to the crime problem is to get police back on foot in communities.

    You can only stop so much crime blowing through an arterial road at 45mph. But regularly patrolling an area on foot, a good cop will notice that "Mrs. Allison's car is gone, and the front door is wide open" prompting a closer look.

    Also, foot patrol (or bicycle, rollerblade, whatever) cops aren't generally tied up with traffic stops and other non-criminal events. They are free to stop the little crimes (graffiti, vandalism, burglary) that scare off the 'good' folks allowing seedier elements to take over an area.

    But, cops on foot are expensive. And you need a lot of them to be effective. And since they're going after criminals, they're not making the city any money in the form of tickets and fines.

    There are some jobs best done by real humans on location. Maybe your board meeting with the Beijing office can be done via teleconference, but protecting residents and preventing crime cannot.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:00PM (#20691393)
    10,000 Cameras Ineffective At Deterring Crime

    ... that criminals are incapable of changing their tactics/habits, and that having cameras simply makes it impossible for them to work. That's just not true: criminals will adapt to changing circumstances and will find new ways to achieve their nefarious ends. Cameras merely change the face of crime, they don't eliminate it.
  • Hollywood lied! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:06PM (#20691437)
    I wonder how much of this has to do with the misconception that somebody can use Photoshop to extract a high resolution image from a crappy CCD cam.
  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:13PM (#20691505) Homepage
    Politicians will simply ignore the facts and press ahead.

    Many around here misrepresent and ignore facts as well. That and they have emotional poorly thought out reactions that are rooted more in their politics than it logic. Note the statement:

    "The study found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any."

    If you apply a modest amount of logic it might occur to you that everything seems to be described in terms of percentages. The fact the percentages may be similar does not mean cameras are ineffective. What is the volume of crime? The absence of such info should make an unbiased reader quite suspicious. Also what were the volumes before the cameras? One of the stated goals of the camera systems is that they would be a deterrent. The volume of crime could be a fraction of pre-camera days and the percentage of solved crimes could be the same.
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:16PM (#20691535) Homepage Journal

    If you search BBC for CCTV, what you find is nothing favorable. Law enforcement figures consistently say the money would be better spent on normal police work. Studdies never show a real decrease in crime. Demographics don't matter because the cameras are everywhere.

    The only reasonable conclusion is that the cameras are not really about crime.

  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:33PM (#20691685)
    They take our rights away slowly. First it was less guns less crime. (cities with effective gun bans are the worst in crime, see DC and Chicago.)

    Now its more cameras, less crime.

    10-15 years, there will be no rights here.
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:59PM (#20691895)
    That is correct, one of the things which cameras tend to do, is to push crime to other areas where there are no cameras.

    The other thing is that if people know that there are a huge number of cameras, they are more likely to where hats or utilize other means of being hard to id with cameras.

    I haven't seen the images that the cameras capture, but the images I see from bank robberies and similar when the FBI releases them, are usually grainy and difficult to make out what the person looks like. Good if you want to be incognito as it makes it more difficult to identify scars and such, bad if you want the public to find the person.

    The main thing that a camera system is good at doing is tracking people. And while that is a huge security problem, it can be beneficial to people that have been accused of a crime falsely, as it makes for an easier alibi.

    Overall, though the results don't seem that much different than what one might expect. Even the definition of a below average number of crimes being solved seems a bit tough of a sell, as there really isn't such thing as an average crime, each crime tends to be somewhat different than the others, it could very well be that the dumber criminals moved out, and the smarter ones moved in because of less competition from other criminals for targets.
  • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:07PM (#20691953) Journal
    ... the people simply ignore the facts, and politicians cash in on their fears about crime on the streets.
  • Re:Poor analysis (Score:2, Insightful)

    by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:25PM (#20692097) Homepage

    I was hoping to see some stats on how many crimes were solved using information from the cameras vs normal police work.

    Why don't they let the public scan the stored video and look for crime? Many hands make light work.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:26PM (#20692105) Homepage
    Did any politician ever admit they were wrong ans say "Ok, let's scrap it?"

    Nope. It's always a case of "I didn't have enough funding to do it properly!"

    Seriously, how hard is it to beat a camera. A hoodie, a baseball cap and sunglasses - it's not like they're high definition video...

    (And no, I'm not advocating they spend another 200 million switching to hi-def - see above.
  • by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:36PM (#20692205) Homepage
    Why? We have every right to assembly, and if we're abiding by the law we should have nothing to worry about. Personally, I don't mind cameras in public places. At least if I'm mugged, I know there might be some evidence.

    It's not like I do illegal things in public! O:) (excluding the occasional traffic violation, of course)
  • by Myrcutio ( 1006333 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:46PM (#20692279)
    There are two ways to use CCTV cameras, one is simply having them there as a deterent to try and scare would be offenders, the other is to catch someone in the act and identify them. Now, the second strategy is complicated by the fact that in a public place almost all your footage is going to be out of focus. A camera has to be set to a specific focal length which can cover a specific distance from the camera and anything closer. If you set the length too far away, you get a horribly small field of view. So, given that you might have 3-4 cameras covering a block thats maybe 10,000 square feet, and perhaps 100 square feet of that is actually clear on camera, the odds of catching a crime clearly enough to identify an offender would be minimal. Therefore if their strategy is simply as a deterent, then we have one conclusion: the criminals in this area don't care if they're being watched, and you just wasted an obscene amount of money.
  • Re:Police (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) <> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @11:50PM (#20692303) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure more cops is the answer, either.

    When it comes to "fighting crime," the answer is much deeper and more complex than just trying to figure out how to use public force to prevent what ends up being a private property issue.

    I personally do believe in John Lott's research that more guns means less crime, but I don't think that is the answer -- just handing out guns. When you have responsible gun owners (which can include children, too), and a responsible knowledge of what constitutes private property, you increase a criminal's risk in going forward with a crime. A property owner that is responsible has many reasons to use defensive force to protect their property; a public officer has almost no reason to stop a crime from being committed, and if the property owners aren't aware that they are the first line of defense, there will never be enough cops to stop crime.

    For me, before we even really discuss decriminalization of guns, we have to consider how many crimes may be committed because of non-violent actions that have been criminalized. How many crimes are committed in protecting a black market of goods from one competitor to another? Drug sales are non-violent (two consenting parties bartering), as is prostitution, gambling, and a plethora of other non-violent actions that are called criminal. These create massive black markets where guns are the answer to protecting markets. By removing non-violent actions as crimes, you can greatly decrease these black markets -- bringing down the crimes associated with protecting those markets.

    In addition to reducing black market crimes, decriminalizing said non-violent actions has a long term effect of putting fewer people in prison. As someone who has known more than one person go to prison for a minor offense only to come out with more ideas for committing more crime, I would believe that we'd have fewer violent criminals if we put fewer non-violent criminals in jail. Again, this is a long term effect that you can't judge as fruitful overnight.

    We need more private property freedom -- that's the end goal. When people are free to protect their property, and free to use their property in non-violent bartering, you also have more reason for people to defend their property rather than put hope in the cops. I have no hope in the cops: not the traffic cops, not the anti-gang cops, not the anti-drug cops. I have faith in myself, and my direct family and friends.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:07AM (#20692421)
    It is not just politicians that do this, it is done at all levels of management in the corporate world as well. The corporations budgets are scrutinized a little more but the act of making a decision and doing some action, wrong or right seems to more acceptable then doing nothing at all. I know we have all been on the receiving end of some office rule or new guideline that makes absolutely no sense at all but someone somewhere was tasked with increasing productivity and with no clue how to really do that, various failed policies and changes are made over and over again.

    Home Land Security comes to mind here, politicians spent billions of dollars to have made "progress" towards preventing another 9/11. How much of that is smoke and mirrors?
  • by sudnshok ( 136477 ) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:08AM (#20692423)
    The US currently spends over $50B per year on the war on drugs. They have been "fighting" this war for over 30 years and have not even made a dent. So, every year, they spend more. If this isn't the clearest example of politicians ignoring facts then I don't know what is.
  • by TaleSpinner ( 96034 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:14AM (#20692453)
    > Could this be an effective argument against the
    > proliferation of cameras or will politicians simply
    > ignore the facts and press ahead?

    It has been shown by traffic engineers that American
    speed limits are set too low. The rule they use is
    the 85% rule - the average speed of 85% of the traffic
    is the best speed. By definition, in fact, as it there-
    fore guarantees that cops only have to deal with the 15%
    of the population who will not drive reasonably and
    prudently. This rule-of-thumb has been shown useful
    again and again. Yet the US persists in restricting
    speeds to 55 or 65 miles an hour. According to many
    traffic engineer studies, this results in 75%(+/- a
    small number, I don't recall) offenders, far more than
    police can handle. Have the speed limits been raised
    to recommended levels? They have not. 75% offender
    rates are great for bringing in the fines. And
    those tickets also mean insurance companies can raise
    your rates, even though they know perfectly well a moving
    violation has no effect on your probability of a
    claim. So, why the obstinacy? Could it be because every
    municipality in the country is trying to get photocops
    installed everywhere? Do they reduce accidents? No.
    But they are great for revenue - as long as you get rid
    of that "punishing the transgresser" nonsense and just
    assume the registered owner of the violating car is guilty.
    Guilty until proven innocent is so much more efficient.
    Especially when there is no amount of proof that will
    satisfy a traffic court judge that anyone is innocent.

    And then we have red-light cameras. Again, traffic
    engineers have pointed out - many times - that
    extending the yellow light to 4 seconds and making it
    consistent for all traffic lights does, indeed,
    make red-light intersections safer. So do we do that?
    We do not. Rather, we put up a red light camera, and
    then we shorten the yellows to push up the take.
    And does this make intersections safer? No, in fact the
    accident rate doubles, and in some instances triples,
    almost all of them, predictably, rear-end collisions.
    And, I hardly dare to point out, this, again, requires
    eliminating "innocent until proven guilty" and making
    the registered owner responsible.

    Oh, sure, the registered owner can finger the real culprit
    - who is most often their spouse, but hey, it's a tort law,
    so it's okay to stress and strain a marriage for the sake
    of that fine.

    So they all ride the gravy train, and we all pay. We pay
    in money for fines and insurance rate increases, we pay in
    time, as if commute distances aren't already ridiculous.
    We pay in aggravation, which either damages relations with
    other people or which will corrode your arteries faster than
    any amount of Ben and Jerry's best. And, finally, we pay
    with our lives because all of this is very profitable
    for the gov't, but it causes accidents, lots of them, and
    people get badly hurt or killed in such accidents -
    entirely preventable accidents
    - every day. Think of that
    when you pass one of those crosses set up by the side of the
    road, and remember that money was more important to the gov't
    than the life of that person, someone's son, daughter, spouse,
    sibling, friend. The $$$ are more important.

    So will we wind up in George Orwell's nightmare here? With
    the current mania for gov't spying on Americans I'd say it's
    all but guaranteed. But if there is a way to use the system
    to catch jaywalkers, parking violations, right-of-way rules,
    inattentive wandering between lanes while sipping one's latte,
    well, you can bet we'll see those cameras - everywhere.

    Freedom. Liberty. Rights. None of these can stand up to
    paranoia or the almighty dollar.
  • by BalaClavaChord ( 686030 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:54AM (#20692677)
    You are half correct. You are forgetting that a significant percentage of crime is not significantly pre-meditated (i.e snatch and grabs). Camera's MAY have some effectiveness reducing these crimes of opportunity.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @01:08AM (#20692757)
    You have to distinguish between the camera acting as a deterrent to crimes of opportunity (yes, to some extent), the camera allowing law enforcement to interrupt a crime in progress (rarely), and as evidence for additional police work or prosecution. So, I suppose it always comes down to cost/benefit. Camera networks are expensive propositions: as a society we have to decide if they're worth what we're spending on them ... and money is not the only cost.

    Not that it much matters what We the People think about the issue ... our government is forging ahead anyway. And why not ... it makes us feel ever so much more secure.
  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @01:30AM (#20692861) Homepage
    You'd have a point if this wasn't simply the latest in a string of studies that all showed the same thing.

    Instead of rushing to apply logic, you should have spent a bit more time learning about all the data that was available. If you had done so, you would have realized that this was just another metric that demonstrated a lack of improvement, rather than being the only or even the primary metric that showed no improvement.

    I know, it's an unfair criticism. After all, research is hard, but a pointless and distracting game of "devil's advocate" is easy.
  • by Warbothong ( 905464 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @01:48AM (#20692937) Homepage
    I'm suprised you didn't pick up on this one:

    "In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average."

    If I was in charge of using CCTV cameras to try and prevent crime then I would try and put the most cameras in areas with below average crime solving rates. In that case such comparisons are useless, only comparisons with previous rates for those areas would be useful (for instance the crime rate might go down by 10%, but can still be below average).

    I am not defending blanket CCTV coverage, but likewise I can't let such horrible statistic interpretations go unnoticed. After all, pirates stop global warming.

  • Re:James Bulger (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:24AM (#20693121)
    Without the CCTV footage, the police wouldn't have had any leads to work with in the James Bulger case.

    Bullshit. []

    James's disappearance made the evening news and immediately calls poured in. Many believed they had seen the toddler in Walton. After one report that James was spotted by the canal, investigators planned to drag the water in the morning. The police interviewed Ralph and Denise Bulger, retracing her steps at the Bootle Strand. As with most child abductions, the parents are routinely considered suspects. But police had too many leads, which took the focus away from the Bulgers. After midnight on the day James disappeared, authorities watched the security videos taken at the shopping center, hoping to catch a glimpse of his abductor.
    This case was solved relatively quickly. There were 38 witnesses. They were all called to the stand and vilified in the press as the "Liverpool 38". The police simply reached for the video first, for probably the same reason men prefer to use GPS rather than ask for directions.

    I wonder what's up with those two brats. The were released six years ago and should be 24 by now. As Francis Urquhart might say, surely we can forgive a man a few youthful indiscretions...?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:28AM (#20693149)

    Better image quality is needed, not a greater physical count of cameras. If you can see a face, clothing detail, nipples through wet, white shirts, all the better. Analog CCTV has poor resolution. There will come a day.
  • by dwater ( 72834 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:39AM (#20693189)
    > ...a below average number of crimes
    > there really isn't such thing as an average crime,

    average *number of* crimes != average crime

  • Re:Poor analysis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:15AM (#20693371)

    Furthermore, I won't buy arguments that cameras deter crime generally because criminals don't know where cameras are, so they simply stop committing crimes all around. Criminals, though they risk injury and imprisonment in their chosen profession, really aren't stupid. They are clever like a fox -- they find 'safe' areas to prowl and pick 'marks' to target. If they know a camera is in the area, they will avoid it. If you ever doubt that criminals are clever and crafty, overhear a conversation amongst drug dealers and buyers. They know the ins and outs of reasonable search, suspicion, evidence, punishment, and mandatory sentencing.

    When a friend asked the police to check the cameras after theft of his motorbike, he was palmed off with "it'll be a waste of time, it'll just show us a bunch of kids in hoods". This shows two things 1) that the police aren't using the cameras to solve most crime, and 2) the criminals are concealing their faces so it doesn't matter if they're caught on camera or not.

  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:35AM (#20693467)
    Wild-ass guess - was that originally intended to nail the Ku Klux Klan?
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:38AM (#20693493)
    I grew up in a village in Hertfordshire (north of London) where we had a village policeman who lived in the police house. If he was on patrol you could usually find Mrs. Policeman there, and she would know what to do. He didn't have loads of sophisticated equipment, but he was one of the community leaders (along with the Rector, the head of the local school and the people on the village council) who people knew to go to in an emergency. It wasn't perfect but it worked well.

    Forward to 2000 or thereabouts, and the police are remote figures in flak jackets, almost always inside cars. They are not part of the community, and most teenagers don't identify with them at all. The Government wants to reintroduce the village policeman, under the name of "Community support officers". And who opposes it? The police. The truth is, too much exposure to US TV programs (yes, a study in Manchester showed that some police there were consciously emulating "police" in cop shows) has poisoned their own perception of their role, and many of them are afraid that community police will be too successful.

    Where I live, which is effectively a village on the edge of a small town, we now have these PCSOs. Many evenings I see them out talking to the kids on the street, just talking to them, like our village policemnan used to talk to us in the 1960s. The wheel is coming a bit full circle, and it's about time it did. Cameras are useless without the desire of the community to support its rule enforcers.

    However, one big factor has changed. Our village policeman did not have to deal with large numbers of drunks about from 11p.m. to 4a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. He occasionally had to put a drunk in the cell, but that was about it. Community policing does not work in the UK's disgusting and horrible drunk culture because reasonable people cannot deal with aggressive, knife wielding drunks.(I'm allowed to say this; it's the most shameful thing about this country.) This is the root cause of the cameras. If we fixed the drunk problem, there would be no need for security cameras. This is one case where the US has mostly got it right and we have got it wrong, and I would vote unthinkingly for the first politician who was willing to bring in the laws that apply in Utah, or even Manhattan.

  • by jhol13 ( 1087781 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:46AM (#20693531)
    Oh yes they were.

    Politicians view of what is crime might be different from yours, but there is no point in wearing a tin foil hat.

    Or, more to the point, politicians view of what is acceptable to "protect the children" most likely is very different of how much "privacy" you are willing to lose.

    Myself? I both love and despise the cameras. They can (and therefore will) be used for good and bad. YMMV.
  • by aadvancedGIR ( 959466 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:43AM (#20693779)
    Just remember that to prevent the 7/7 bombing, they would have to focus on mundane looking people using the public transportation during rush hour. Now tell me how you can do that exactly.
  • by frp001 ( 227227 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:54AM (#20693835)
    >> Technology has made it much too difficult--the real deterrence is the combination of camera
    >> and the willingness to prosecute. ...
    >> Once the technology is deemed good enough, it will be deployed to troubled areas like Baghdad.

    Interesting. Would you care to explain how to prosecute a suicide bomber?
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @06:33AM (#20694201) Journal

    I've lived in several countries in Europe (Portugal, Holland) and i now live in the UK (in London).
    Speaking as a UK resident, I can say that all of your comparisons between London and the rest of Europe also apply to London and the rest of the UK, although the point about celebrity worship and political spin are fairly universal UK-wide (the latter is somewhat better here in Wales, where we actually have some fairly reasonable politicians).

    In all honesty, London is the place in Europe where i get the strongest feeling that i'm surrounded by mindless drones and that most people live life as if they were in a rat race.
    I couldn't agree more.
  • by drseuk ( 824707 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @09:04AM (#20695071)
    "But if our four million + cameras save the life of one abducted child then surely it's worth spending billions of pounds on the system. You can't put a price on life. Ask Rodney King." Back to reality. If the same billions had been poured into child poverty, healthcare and community crime prevention (e.g., repairing streetlights and youth clubs etc.), the positive impact would dwarf the benefits of the cameras.
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @09:13AM (#20695159)
    The main thing that a camera system is good at doing is tracking people. And while that is a huge security problem, it can be beneficial to people that have been accused of a crime falsely, as it makes for an easier alibi.

    In other words, it makes it easier to prove your innocence? Isn't that kind of backward?
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @09:20AM (#20695251)
    Prefix a question with "wild-ass guess", and get modded Informative. Only on Slashdot...
  • by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @09:59AM (#20695677)
    A surveillance society is not about helping to catch criminals. It is all about making the populace terrified to do anything that might offend the powers-in-charge.

    Typically they are "sold" to the public under the guise of fighting crime, as nobody wants to stand in the way of a murderer being subjected to justice of the people.

    The real reason though is that government's largest risk of being put out of power is not criminals or foreign enemies, but their own people. By making the people feel their every move is cataloged and noted by the government, they are (by and large) made afraid to do anything their government may see as problematic, reducing government's risk of the people demonstrating, peacefully or not.

    The cameras were never about fighting crime, they are there both as a panacea for the people and more importantly, a means of control.

    I may sound like a tin-foil hat wearing libertarian here ... but, dang it, the tin-foil hat wearing libertarians have it right.
  • by rhakka ( 224319 ) on Friday September 21, 2007 @10:48AM (#20696285)
    Legalize drugs and they are out of business overnight.
  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @02:46PM (#20700239) Homepage Journal
    And as others have pointed out (re bad laws, but the principle is the same) ... don't think of any such tech as it will used by the GOOD guys. Think of them as it will be used by the BAD guys. Or even by the political party that merely opposes YOUR party of choice. If the thought makes you squirm, then it's a Bad Idea.

  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @12:26PM (#20711447)
    The bottom line is that you need to study up on the difference between correlation and causality.

    So do you. Plus, the innate rights of man trump the desires of an authoritarian state.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.