Thursday, March 03, 2011

Just how many CCTV cameras are watching you?

There are many CCTV cameras watching over people here in the UK. Popular opinion states that the UK is the "most watched" society in the world and that the average Briton passes under 300 cameras a day. However, hard figures are impossible to obtain. We just do not know how many CCTV cameras there are today in the UK. What happens is a survey is undertaken in one area and the figures are extrapolated to give a figure for the whole of the UK. But if you simply extrapolate these statistics, you can get some very different results for the national picture. The Cheshire Police survey claims the UK is being watched by a network of 1.85m CCTV cameras, equivalent to one CCTV camera for every 32 people. Yet when statistics from 2 Wandsworth streets were used and extrapolated, this gave a headline grabbing figure of 4.2m CCTV cameras in the UK.

So we just don't know how many CCTV cameras are watching you. We also do not know how many of these cameras and recorders actually work. The whole CCTV scene is open to vast exaggeration. We could be the most watched society in the world or it could be a complete myth put about by the owners of these CCTV cameras. Remember that CCTV cameras do not stop crime, they only record that the crime has taken place if the cameras and recorders actually work. Catching the criminal dressed in a grey hoodie is another matter though!

If you take those 2 surveys as examples, then there may be half or twice as many CCTV cameras operating in the UK as you previously thought. I think the actual number of active, working and recording CCTV cameras are simply the making of an urban legend. We may be a nation addicted to the positioning of fake CCTV cameras and threatening notices.
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