Is this 1984?

Is this 1984?

Image by tzunder via Flickr

If I had shown you this photo in German and black and white and said it was a Nazi or Stasi poster, or in Russian and on the Soviet Metro you’d say "oh how terrible".. Big Brother is watching you.. but this was Barnsley bus station last week or so.. What has it come to, that Britons accept the degree of surveillance that we would regard as oppressive if done in a different language?

There is very little evidence that CCTV reduces crime, so to what extent have we allowed the emergence of a public-private surveillance culture and what is the effect on us as the watched?

Professor Martin Gill, Professor of Criminology in the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester, led the evaluation of a Home Office study in 2005. He said:

“For supporters of CCTV these findings are disappointing.

“For the most part CCTV did not produce reductions in crime and it did not make people feel safer. Following the introduction of CCTV, support for its use decreased, not so much because there was a concern about intrusions of privacy but because they did not see cameras as effective. One scheme was very effective in tackling vehicle crime, and there were other successes, not least in bringing more offences to the attention of the police. Overall, areas have encountered real difficulties in using CCTV to good effect.”

Source: http://www2.le.ac.uk/ebulletin/news/press-releases/2000-2009/2005/02/nparticle-jtt-p6b-76c

A 2009 Scottish Government report said:

Summary of key points from the literature review:

    * Very little evaluative research into the effectiveness of CCTV has been conducted since the year 2000.
    * There is minimal evidence to suggest that CCTV effectively deters crime, and in cases where crime does appear to be deterred, this effect is generally short-lived.
    * Key researchers have recently suggested that media coverage of CCTV installation may impact the extent to which CCTV will have any deterrent effect on crime.
    * Recent research has resulted in evidence consistent with the repeated finding that CCTV may be more effective in deterring crime in smaller and less complex areas than large city centres.
    * The opinions of convicted offenders largely suggest that cameras are not perceived as a threat, particularly in situations fuelled with alcohol.
    * The reality of crime displacement remains inconclusive.
    * There is some evidence of a diffusion of benefits in terms of crime reduction to surrounding areas following CCTV installation but, like deterrence, these effects appear to diminish with time.
    * There is some evidence to suggest that crime displacement may occur on a small scale, within the local ( CCTV targeted) area itself.
    * Evidence from intervention studies incorporating an additional outcome measure to recorded crime statistics suggests that CCTV may be more effective in terms of increased crime detection than it is in terms of deterrence, particularly in the case of violent crime.
    * Full realisation of the potential benefits of increased crime detection depends on a wide range of factors beyond the quality of the CCTV system itself.
    * The police largely view CCTV as a useful time saving tool that supports their work in a variety of ways.
    * Estimations of potential economic savings generated by CCTV are considerably high however, such estimations have not yet been balanced out against the cost of installing CCTV, preventing a true picture of its economic benefits.
    * The findings of psychological experiments suggest that evidence captured on CCTV may lead to the most successful and reliable outcome, in terms of securing a conviction, when circulated in the media, through provoking identification by members of the public familiar with the offender.
    * The extent to which CCTV improves public feelings of safety remains unclear due to conflicting results of prior- and post-intervention surveys.
    * Anecdotal evidence suggests there are many additional benefits of CCTV that go beyond any impact it may have on crime.

Source: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/12/03151641/1

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