For those who have argued on this blog that CCTV cameras help make the UK safer, the Guardian today reports that CCTV’s actually don’t work to reduce crimes, despite enormous cost, and enormous intrusions on personal privacy. This is not new news — the British Home Office said this years ago, despite the expense of these cameras.
Let’s hope that this is noticed in the US, where the trend is going toward more CCTV cameras, not less.
However, the UK is now looking to invest more in CCTV technology, specifically in automated intelligence. Unfortunately, this will invariably create false positives — imagine being stopped after crossing the street, asked for identification, searched and then let go, because an image match flagged you as someone who looked like a criminal.
Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.
The warning comes from the head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) at New Scotland Yard as the force launches a series of initiatives to try to boost conviction rates using CCTV evidence. They include:
· A new database of images which is expected to use technology developed by the sports advertising industry to track and identify offenders.
· Putting images of suspects in muggings, rape and robbery cases out on the internet from next month.
· Building a national CCTV database, incorporating pictures of convicted offenders as well as unidentified suspects. The plans for this have been drawn up, but are on hold while the technology required to carry out automated searches is refined.