Scotland confronts of a plague of CCTV vandalism

Published 5 February 2007

Authorities consider installing cameras to watch the cameras; seven have been destroyed in recent years, some by arson; cost and feasability of plan remain uncertain

It was a natural, though perhaps unforseen, development. Now that video cameras of all technological stripes— from CCTV to gait analytics — have become so popular, criminals are increasingly incentivized to destroy them.

That is a crime in itself, of course, yet how can it be stopped? In Scotland, where public video is as popular as in the rest of the United Kingdom, seven cameras in the Scottish Borders have been assaulted, pulled down, and even torched, most of them on highways. “Every time it happens it is inconvenient, it is costly and it is a crime,” said one observer.

There is only one solution in this day and age: more cameras. “There are companies there who would provide us with CCTV coverage — the cameras looking after the cameras kind of thing,” said Colin McNeil of Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership. Exactly how this would work is unclear, but obviously the meta-camera would be of lower quality than the one performing area surveillance, yet it would have also to be obvious enough to serve as a deterrent. The Scottish authorities seem to understand this, too. “We need to evaluate that on a cost basis and evaluate properly before we even consider it,” said McNeil.

-read more in this BBC report