Sunday, September 23, 2007

London’s CCTVs haven’t reduced crime

According to this story from The Evening Standard, London’s CCTV system doesn’t appear to have lowered crime rates very much. According to the article, “four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.” The article suggests that two more effective approaches would be adding additional police officers and street lighting.

“We have estimated that CCTV cameras have cost the taxpayer in the region of £200million in the last 10 years but it's not entirely clear if some of that money would not have been better spent on police officers.

“Although CCTV has its place, it is not the only solution in preventing or detecting crime.”
A report by the criminal justice charity Nacro in 2002 concluded that the money spent on cameras would be better used on street lighting, which has been shown to cut crime by up to 20 per cent.

That last detail is particularly interesting to me. Cory Doctorow’s piece on the report refers to London’s CCTV system as a “panopticon.” As you might recall, Benthem’s Panopticon works by training the inmates of the prison to police themselves by making them feel that they are under constant surveillance. The article implies that street lighting is much better than video surveillance at achieving this effect.

Via Boing Boing

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