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Saturday, May 25th, 2013, 2:35 pm

CCTV Not Effective

Surveillance camera

WITHOUT a doubt, there are circumstances where evidence extracted from CCTV is valuable. For instance, if there is a street/pub brawl, one can use footage to verify or falsify eyewitness accounts or the story told by those involved in a brawl.

For the most part, however, CCTV fails to justify its great cost, not just monetary cost but also the cost to our civil liberties. Today I got a good reminder of that.

Having spent nearly an hour speaking to security personnel and the local police, I found that CCTV did, in fact, capture the stealing of my hybrid bike (retails at around £500) roughly two hours ago. This was captured because I only ever park and chain my bike to solid objects like designated bike rails in front of cameras and in the presence of many people.

Not only did several cameras capture good footage of my bike being stolen but also the store manager (the store I was in for just 10 minutes) was at the parking lot witnessing the crime. Was that enough to prevent the crime? No. To capture the perpetrator? No. To return the stolen bike? No.

The perpetrator wore a hoodie, so it is hard to identify him (the footage only identifies him as a black man in his mid-twenties, to quote security personell who investigated it). It is too early to assume that the bike won’t be returned and the perpetrator caught, but the matter of fact is, CCTV, as I long argued (for many years), does not help prevention and rarely helps identification.

If the perpetrator is very naive, in which case he or she is removed from the scene early on, then it might work, but the hard cases cannot be resolved by CCTV. All that can be achieved is the confirmation that a certain crime occurred and in cases where an insurance agency is involved, it may help prevent insurance/benefit fraud. My bike was not insured. I don’t know any people who buy bike insurance.

Surveillance tools which are run and owned by the state (or law-enforcement agencies), as in CCTV, are not there to protect and arguably they do not serve as a deterrent either. They are probably not worth the investment. More people need to be on the ground, creating more jobs and adding to real security, not sci-fi pseudo-futuristic security theatre.

2 Responses to “CCTV Not Effective”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hey Roy sorry to hear about your bike maybe you could post a pic of it on here and a screenshot if the thief and stick up qt the retail park to warn others also that the cctv is ineffective

  2. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    I was advised by someone that I should do so, but it seems like a futile attempt as it would not reach the targeted individuals. One friend said I should post a photo from the CCTV (which I wasn’t even allowed to see myself), but this too would not achieve much.

    Anyway, I bought a new bike on Monday and I still hope that the police will call again this week (as they promised last week) with some updates on the slow investigation. I don’t count on it. My guess is, due to the investigation being so slow, they will have lost the CCTV footage (which is ‘taped over’ after a while). Last week they said they were not even able to get hold of the footage. Weird.

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