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Government Privacy

One Crime Solved Per 1,000 London CCTV Cameras 404

SpuriousLogic writes "Only one crime was solved for each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city's surveillance network has claimed. The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals. In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers. David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: 'It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent.' He added: 'CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness. It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security. The Metropolitan Police has been extraordinarily slow to act to deal with the ineffectiveness of CCTV.'"
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One Crime Solved Per 1,000 London CCTV Cameras

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  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DeadPixels ( 1391907 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:14PM (#29179571)
    and I'd have to have them where I live

    Sorry, I'd *hate* to have them where I live. The paranoia is getting to me.
  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:23PM (#29179655)

    According to one of Schneier's blog posts the cameras don't reduce crime at all. They shift it to other locations. Such a shift is an entirely different question, but perhaps still a valid goal.

  • by e2d2 ( 115622 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:26PM (#29179691)

    We need more cameras with better quality. HD quality with multiple lenses to also read in different spectrums such as infrared and ultraviolet and of course these should have sensitive shotgun microphones. If we deploy ten times the number of cameras that are currently out there we can stop these dirty crooks and rid he world of crime once and for all!

  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:35PM (#29180331) Homepage Journal

    Some relevant links:
    "Is Public CCTV Effective?" [ipvideomarket.info]

    This is relevant because "This report offers key findings from the 20 top studies/articles in the field and offers practical recommendations on how to optimize the use of public CCTV systems."

    Key Findings Summary
            * The expectation that CCTV systems should be deployed to reduce crime rather than solve crime has created huge problems.
            * While the studies show serious doubt on CCTV's ability to reduce crime generally, a strong consensus exists in CCTV's ability to reduce premeditative/property crime
            * CCTV is consistently treated as a singular, stable technology, obscuring radical technological changes that have occurred in the last 10 years
            * Differences in per camera costs are largely ignored, preventing policy makers from finding ways to reduce costs
            * Routine comparison of police vs cameras is counterproductive

    Practical Recommendations Summary
            * Stop claiming that CCTV can generally reduce crime
            * Optimize future public CCTV projects around crime solving rather than crime reduction
            * Optimize future public CCTV projects around material and premeditative crimes
            * Target technologies that support crime solving and material/premeditative crimes
            * Focus on minimizing cost per camera

    and "CCTV in Glasgow" [u-net.com]
    Main Findings
    - In the 12 months after installation of the cameras there were 3,156 fewer crimes and offences than the average for the 24 months preceding installation.
    - Once the crime and offence figures were adjusted to take account of the general downward trend in crimes and offences, reductions were noted in certain categories but there was no evidence to suggest that the cameras had reduced crime overall in the city centre.
    - The cameras appeared to have little effect on clear up rates for crimes and offences.
    - 33% of people questioned in the city centre were aware of the cameras 3 months after installation and 41% 15 months after installation.
    - Installation of the CCTV cameras did not reduce the proportion of those who said they would sometimes avoid a certain part of the city but there was a slight reduction in those who said they were anxious about becoming a victim of crime in the city centre.
    - 72% of all those interviewed believed CCTV cameras would prevent crime and disorder; 81% thought they would be effective in catching perpetrators; and 79% thought they would make people feel less likely that they would become victims of crime.
    - 67% of those interviewed 'did not mind' being observed by street cameras.

    Personally, I think the cost is the only way we can argue back our privacy. Say you are not willing to pay for costly, ineffective measures.

  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rakshasa Taisab ( 244699 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:04PM (#29181079) Homepage
    Having hung around a few serious heroin and speed addicts in the past, let me tell you that they're far more knowledgeable about crime than any arm-chair criminal here on /.
  • Re:ONE THOUSAND?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:24PM (#29181809)

    I agree with you that it isn't usually happening now (tho I sat in a traffic class with someone busted for 1mph over the speed limit about 5 years ago).

    I don't agree with you that it won't happen in the future. Every day we read about a way they have found to automate camera monitoring.

    As someone basically 50 years old, it astounds me the things young people take for advantage and freedoms do not even know they have lost.

    Even in my life time, people could commit a crime- go elsewhere and live a normal life. Things that might have been a stupid error by a 20 year old or sometimes more serious things. Now they are much more likely to go to jail. The law is much more unforgiving. Make the mistake and basically, your chance at a normal life is over.

    The percentage of people in jail has increased to levels that would have been considered totalitarian when I was a boy.

    Laws, like the RICO laws have been corrupted to be used for purposes never imagined.

  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @03:23AM (#29183105) Homepage

    I know of an anecdote where the surveillance camera actually helped solving a crime, where a business got robbed. But in this case it wasn't the camera alone, it was the fact that there was a watchman actively watching the camera feed.
    The neighbouring hardware store was robbed on a Sunday morning, and our datacenter watchman was pointing the surveillance camera to the scene and informing the police. He even got the license plate of the van used by the robbers on camera. About 90 mins later the police had caught hold of the van, including the loot and at least three of the criminals.

    So CCTV might actually help solving crimes, but it takes much more than just having it automatically scan the environment. But then -- compared with how many people are actually running around on crowded places, and how many singular events are actually happening there, about 99.9% of them are not criminal at all. This begs the question if the surveillance effort will ever pay out because most of it is wasted anyway. Unmonitored CCTV is just an attempt to get surveillance on the cheap, and the Garbage In -- Garbage Out effect is manifesting here again.

  • Re:The trade-off (Score:5, Informative)

    by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @03:43AM (#29183227)

    You're making a very common mistake, which is to assume that the CCTV cameras are owned by the government. The majority of CCTV cameras in London are installed privately in shops and offices.

  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SlashWombat ( 1227578 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @05:24AM (#29183711)
    While its fine to have 1000's of camera's, you need humans to view the output. Sure the camera can be recorded for later viewing, but, someone still needs to look at the recording. Digital lets you run the video relatively fast scanning for "events", however, there are limits (around 10..25X) At some point, the hard disk (I assume, not a tape) gets near to full, and the video data ends up being deleted. Assuming the camera is coded in MPEG4, there is around 1 gigabytes per hour to store (yes, I know, you can do better than 1 gig/hour. ) so you might be able to store approx 10 days on a 250 gig HDD. So, unless something has been found in less than 10 days, and copied to a less volatile medium, it is probably lost for evermore!

    I personally suspect that not all camera's are even permanently connected to a recorder.
  • Re:Sure, but... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @07:26AM (#29184383)

    So maybe the cameras are positioned wrong or are not of high quality enough?

    I would like to see a study why the cameras did not help. Too high in the ceiling so baseball cap obscures too much? Analog or low resolution so the picture is a mess? Couldn't catch license plate of run-away car?

    I have no clue what such a study would reveal.

    Cameras are not good enough in any aspect.

    People expect a camera to act like a human eye. 360 degrees of movement, knows where to look, variable focus, impressive low light capabilities (and without additional illumination) and deal with huge ranges of brightness with ease. In practice, a camera can either see either very little area or very little detail, minimal capability to deal with large range of brightness (a headlight at night will render it useless).

    We're used to watching television, shot by skilled camera operators at carefully contrived angles in pre-set scenes with massively expensive cameras. CCTV is not, and can never approach the quality of picture. You're lucky if you get a shot of the face clear enough to see (and that's if they didn't bother to obscure it).

    Posted anonymously, as I work for a CCTV wholesaler. It's enlightening as to just how much of a placebo these things are.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato