CCTVs do not help U.K. cut crime

Published 26 August 2009

The United Kingdom has around four million CCTVs installed (one camera for every fourteen people); it takes 1,000 CCTV cameras to solve a single crime, London’s Metropolitan Police has admitted

A report from the Met’s Visual Images Identifications and Detections Office revealed a significant rise in the level of complaints from the public, where it is perceived that police have not viewed CCTV when investigating a crime, or have used untrained officers to review thousands of hours of footage.

The United Kingdom has around four million cameras (meaning that there is one camera for every fourteen people) — a million of them in the capital — making its citizens some of the most closely watched in the world, with each person in London likely to be watched by cameras 300 times a day.

Home Office report published earlier this year revealed that CCTV has done “virtually nothing” to cut crime, except for vehicle break-ins in car parks. A House of Lords committee also reported that in the ten years to 2006, £500 million ($818 million) had been spent on CCTV installations, rather than on improving street lighting and other crime prevention measures.

Much of this — an estimated £200 million ($327 million) — has been spent in London, meaning each crime cost £20,000 ($32,700) to solve.

Eamonn Butler, the director of think tank the Adam Smith Institute, told the Telegraph: “It is obvious that the boom in CCTV cameras is not making us the slightest bit safer. There is no evidence that it saves us from gun or knife crime, or for that matter that it stops terrorists - many terrorists are only too glad to advertise their evil deeds.”