Friday, 8 October 2010

On the uselessness of CCTV


A young man is violently attacked in a well lit city centre which – the Council and local police boast – has one of the country’s most sophisticated and comprehensive CCTV systems. Indeed, while authorities are quick to release images in the interests of suppressing legitimate protest, but when it’s an ordinary, harmless young man clubbed over the head while going about his wholly innocent business the images aren’t good enough to identify the unpleasant little thugs who committed the crime.

And it would seem that this is the end of it. Having failed to identify the culprits with the cameras, the police have put the crime in the pile labelled ‘pending’ and gone onto more important things like hounding harmless motorists, attending “partners and communities together” meetings (don’t ask) and refusing to help passing strangers with simple questions. It isn’t just that the CCTV is useless as an effective system for identifying criminals (and it would seem that they know this), it has become an excuse for the police to stop doing their job effectively. No pictures means no arrests.

And the excuse?

“There are…some occasions when the pictures are grainy or unclear which can be down to the lighting or the fact that we are relying on some of the older cameras or even the UTC cameras.”

The presence of cameras does not make for better crime prevention, more effective policing or safer city centres. It just makes the police lazy.


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