London Legislators Warn That Video Surveillance Not Best Way to Solve Crimes

Sep 25, 2007
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

Figures released last week by the London Assembly of Liberal Democrats suggest that London's video surveillance network, totaling over 10,500 cameras in all, does not help solve crimes.

The Liberal Democrats looked at the percentage of crimes solved in the boroughs of London and compared those figures with the number of video surveillance cameras in each borough. While the number of cameras varied from a low of 58 in the borough of Merton to a high of 1,484 in Hackney, the percentage of crimes solved in each borough hovered at about 21% regardless of camera coverage. The figures are not comprehensive enough to lead to an ironclad conclusion, but the Liberal Democrats believe that video surveillance is not the best way to help police solve crimes.

In reference to the figures, a spokesman for the group said, "Across London, a mere 1 in 5 crimes get solved and boroughs with thousands of CCTV cameras are no better at doing so than those which have a few dozen. CCTV cameras have cost the taxpayer in the region of £200m in the last 10 years. Some of this money might have been better spent on police officers. Although CCTV has its place, it is not the only solution in preventing or detecting crime and too often still, calls for CCTV cameras come as a knee jerk reaction. It is time we engaged in an open debate about the role of CCTV cameras in London today."

The ACLUs of California recently released Under the Watchful Eye, a report on the proliferation of video surveillance across the state. We are encouraging cities to take a careful look at the real costs and the few benefits of public video surveillance and not install or expand public video surveillance systems.

To find out more about video surveillance and read the full report, please see our webpage, Under the Watchful Eye.