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Big Brother Britain brings no benefits.

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CCTV is no criminal catcher

I hark back to this post and the quote from Russian journalist Irada Zeinalova:

‘London is a Big Brother city. It is all watched by cameras. Even in the days of the USSR you couldn’t imagine such a number of cameras or observers. Your moves are even monitored by your bus tickets. There are CCTV cameras on every building and computer chips on the rubbish bins….They explain the CCTV cameras on every corner by fighting terrorism and crime – but sadly it doesn’t solve the problems,’

“Sadly it doesn’t solve problems” she said, and sadly the Metropolitan Police are now agreeing with her.

One only has to enter CCTV into the search box on the right hand side of this blog to see how much the overbearing intrusiveness of the camera has concerned me over the years, it is not the answer to society’s ills, its petty crime, or its desire to feel safe and comfortable. That answer lies in effective community policing which engages fully with local neighbourhoods and rebuilds trust. The answer lies in effective parenting and schooling which emphasises the ability to recognise right and wrong behaviour. The answer lies in being able to challenge wrong behaviour at an early age intervening to educate and fashion the more correct responses. The answer lies in a quite old fashioned notion that the policeman is your friend (and there is a fair amount of work to do in some areas to rebuild that image.) The answer lies in having more policemen and women visible on the streets, not stuck behind desks in hidden offices wearing away pen nibs on government reporting forms.

Each case helped by the use of CCTV effectively costs £20,000 to detect.

How much could these investigative costs be reduced if more and more people were able to comfortably go to the police offering statements? Simple statements such as “I saw” and “I’m willing to testify”.

It also said that increasingly members of the public were complaining that officers had not bothered to view available CCTV images when trying to track down criminals.

I have said before, every time some politician here in South Tyneside shouts for more money for CCTV cameras for “community safety” that they are a waste of resource and that communities become even more complacent as we add more cameras, and this report bears this out. We all assume that an incident has been recorded on camera and therefore assume that we have no personal or  social responsibility in helping to reduce crime in our own neighbourhoods. It must be the police and local councils to blame for not capturing images on camera not the public to blame for failing to see, failing to report, or failing to provide witness statement.

Under a section headlined “Strategic Issues”, the report said: “Potential change of Government – the Conservatives are not CCTV friendly – we need to start showing that we are targeting serious crime.”

They can do that by getting more closely involved in communities and Conservative plans to reduce the bureaucratic workload of police officers should free up more of their time to do that, something which most beat bobbies would probably appreciate.

David Davis MP, the former shadow Home Secretary, said the latest report “should provoke a major and long overdue rethink on where the Home Office 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, something true both in London and across the country.

“A combination of overdependence on CCTV and ineffective use of the cameras means that this money could have been much better spent on more police officers.”

And so say all of us, and one day I hope to see the man back as a Conservative front bench operator.

The Home Office defended the use of CCTV, with a spokesman saying cameras could “help communities feel safer”.

Yeah, and that’s why Cabinet Ministers cannot walk the streets without giving the impression that their constituencies are whole lot more frightening than they need to be.

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Written by curly

August 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

One Response

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  1. This is a very interesting blog that you have here. It’s important that their are blogs out there who hold a very strong opinion towards certain issues.

    I have a site myself where anyone can freely express their opinion towards controversial issues. I’m telling you this because I believe that you can provide others with some valuable insight towards some issues.

    Keep up the good work, and maybe we can do a link exchange.



    August 25, 2009 at 8:20 pm

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