Report criticises CCTV cameras

The Government and police forces need to urgently overhaul the use of CCTV cameras in fighting crime, a report just published has found.

Nov 1, 2007
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Andy Marsh

The Government and police forces need to urgently overhaul the use of CCTV cameras in fighting crime, a report just published has found.

The Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) National CCTV Strategy report suggested that 80 per cent of all CCTV cameras were not of sufficient quality to identify criminals.

It claims the uncoordinated nature of the UK’s CCTV network has led to incompatible systems between digital and VHS-era technology and warns that an increasing number are being used for “additional and conflicting tasks” like parking and bus lane enforcement.

“The contribution CCTV has made in protecting the public and assisting the police to investigate crime has occurred despite CCTV systems being developed in a piecemeal fashion with little strategic direction, control or regulation,” the report notes.

“This approach has failed to maximise the potential of our CCTV infrastructure and many involved in its operation and management felt there remained a pressing need to examine existing standards, procedures, training and methods of operation.”

Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “We see that this Government has managed to give people all the disadvantages of CCTV in terms of undermining civil liberties but only provide minimal advantage in terms of public safety and crime detection.”

But a Home Office spokesman defended CCTV for having “been proven its effectiveness time and again in tackling crime and disorder”.

“The strategy recognises that for CCTV to continue to be effective it must have both the support of the public and take account of rapidly changing technology,” said a spokesman. “All the recommendations will be assessed by an expert programme board and a proposed plan of action will be submitted to ministers for consideration.”

Among the changes proposed are greater public accountability, the creation of a national database of CCTV schemes, better training for users and an increased role for the information commissioner.

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