Are CCTV cameras worth the price of privacy?

I just read the story from “This is London” that is linked at the bottom of this post . It is an eye opening sort of read.

When I lived in the UK, I was very anti-Camera. The reason is simple, I do not believe the cameras produce enough effect on crime to justify the Orwellian loss of privacy.

While living in Littlehampton, a man on his way home from London was in an otherwise deserted train car as it made a scheduled stop. Three youths, or young adults, entered the car and beat the man near to death with a fire extinguisher. This horrendous attack was all caught on CCTV from the train. The perp’s faces were all caught and shown on television.

Even with this evidence, no arrests were made, at least not after the several months that passed in which I lost interest. The attack was caught by the precious and needed cameras, even clear face shots, but no arrests, at least within a reasonable time frame.

Even the most inept police force, in the smallest out in the sticks town here in the US, could have solved that crime lickety-split. There is even a good chance that the Aruba or Portuguese police could have got at least one suspect into custody.

My view on the cameras is bad, but it is not just the cameras. The UK has this overwhelming need, at least it seems so, to get their hands on the DNA of every person that ever stepped foot on their soil. I posted recently about a judge that thinks everyone in and visiting the UK should give up DNA for a database. If you get brought in for the most minimal of offenses, expect to be added to the registry.

Don’t believe me? Ask the kids that built a fort.

Three 11 year old kids, two male and one female, were out having fun playing around a local tree. They pulled some branches off to build a fort. The tree, however, was on public property, thus this was not allowed.

So, the local coppers were called in. Did they take these hardened criminals home to be dealt with by their parents? Did they give them a stern warning and chastisement? No to both. They instead brought them into the police station in full restraint and held them for three hours in the same cells used for hardened criminals, and without immediately notifying the parents.

The children were searched as hardened criminals, had their shoes confiscated, and yes, they were forced to give DNA samples that were added to the national registry.

Since I no longer live in the UK, I can’t recall the exact town, but I do remember in reading the story that this town has a bad teen and young adult crime problem in the town center. Good thing the cops in this case were working the “tough” outer parts of the city. Getting those fort building 11 year olds on the DNA registry, now that is important.

Anyway, back to the camera situation. This story supports my views on the CCTV debate. It appears that the crime clearance rate in areas with a large number of cameras is pretty much the same as areas without large numbers. The unsolved rate in both high camera and low camera areas is around 80%.

But hey, they did get that 11 year old DNA, so things are looking up.

Story is below.

Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved| News | This is London

Edit: I found the story on the kids and the DNA. I was a bit off. They were 12, not 11 and were held for 2 hours, not 3. Also, they will be on the record for 5 years, not permanently. Still a very stupid story that supports my thoughts.

Here is the train story, notice the police tracked down the images of the individuals, not the individuals. Crazy. Great thing CCTV.

Still, not too bad a memory for stories from over a year ago and the other from 2004, eh?


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