Doug Bedell — May 12, 2008, 11:44 am

CCTV Not Yet Getting Results in Britain

We have run a couple of items on the growing deployment of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in cities to deter criminal activity. But here’s one from Great Britain with an opposing view – expensive camera systems have been virtually worthless in deterring crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville calls Britain’s multibillion-dollar surveillance network “an utter fiasco,” noting that video footage has solved only three percent of crime.

Problems include poor-quality video that doesn’t permit identification of offenders and lack of collated databases among a multiplicity of CCTV systems.

In two boroughs, Barnet, with 150 publicly funded cameras, and Hackney, with nearly 1,500 cameras, police solved about one in five reported crimes in 2006-07.

The problems, though, are being worked on. Britain’s Association of Chief Police Officers predicts that, with improvements, CCTV systems will “equal DNA and fingerprints” as crime-fighting tools.

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