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CCTV Lies - Hundreds Of £Millions Wasted

Reproduced By Kind Permission Of
Privacy International Web Site:

The Joint Home Office & Association Of Chief Police Officers
(ACPO) team - OCTOBER 2007

This report states that the proliferation of CCTV cameras was presenting the police with serious problems - in particular their capacity to recover evidence and review tapes.[1]
The police are concerned that cameras are increasingly being used to "monitor crowds, slips, trips and falls" and "patrol"
rather than to detect crime. [2]

This is compounded by an increasing tendency for camera schemes to be used as income generators. (!) Following the London terrorist attacks in 2005, former UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the BBC's Today program that he could not envision a situation where surveillance cameras would prevent a terrorist attack.

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Meanwhile, recent studies show that over 90% of CCTV systems in the UK are actually operating illegally.[3] Another study has shown that of the over 10,000 cameras in London, costing about £200 million to establish, show that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any. In fact, four out of five of the municipalities with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.[4] Recently, senior police officials have been calling for location and national debates on the use of CCTV cameras after questionable deployment and usage patterns.[5]

With the emergence of digital CCTV, systems which are likely to fully replace existing analogue CCTV systems in the next few years and the rapid convergence of IT and television, the situation has taken a turn for the worse. The CCTV industry is at the forefront of implementing emerging technologies and is constantly developing new digital CCTV systems by using the very latest technology and adapting it to their needs. The results have been a myriad of largely incompatible systems that in the main adhere to no common or open standards. This results in largely proprietary systems and recordings. With hundreds of international manufacturers, offering thousands of different products to the CCTV industry, purchasers, system designers and police and other CJS users are faced with many issues.

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Some of these include the fact that purchasers and system designers have identified that digital cameras from one manufacturer may not be compatible with other manufacturers' recording systems. This restricts their ability to pick and choose different system components without being tied in to one manufacturer. Police and CJS users have difficulty in playing back CCTV footage from the many proprietary recording formats. The police service is employing specialist technical staff to recover and process digital CCTV footage, but the CJS often has difficulty playing back in these formats. Currently, the measures used to overcome this are conversion to other standard formats (in most cases VHS). This is time consuming, can result in a reduction of quality, integrity and contravenes the intended practice laid out in the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) Digital Imaging Procedures.[6]



[1] National CCTV Strategy, ACPO and the Home Office, October 2007, page 12.
[2] Page 13 of Home Office report above.
[3] 'Almost all CCTV systems are illegal, says expert',, September 28, 2007.
[4] 'Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved', Justin Davenport, Evening Standard, September 19, 2007.
[5] 'Orwellian' CCTV in shires alarms senior police officer', Rachel Williams, the Guardian, May 21, 2007.'
[6] National CCTV Strategy, ACPO and the Home Office, October 2007, page 12.

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1.  Long-term Trends in Violence against the Person:
2.  Analysis of costs and benefits guidance for evaluators:
3.  Measuring inputs guidance for evaluators:


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†"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
††Then he is not Omnipotent.
††Is he able but not willing?
††Then he is malevolent.
††Is God both able and willing?
††Then whence cometh evil?
††Is he neither able nor willing?
††Then why call him God?"
- Epicurus (341 – 270 BC)

"Civillisation will not attain perfection
†until the last stone,
†from the last church,
†falls on the last priest."
- Émile Zola (1840 – 1902)

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