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How Much Are We Really Under Surveillance?

Posted by Hermione Crone
24th July 2015

They say that there’s no such thing as privacy in this day and age. We are almost continually under surveillance through the estimated 5 million security cameras that monitor Britain every day, and according to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), each one of us is caught on about 70 cameras each day.

Britain is one of the world’s most surveillance camera heavy countries, including an estimated 750,000 cameras in ‘sensitive’ areas such as schools, hospitals and care homes. It has been debated, however, how useful these cameras really are.

Crime Prevention

The two main benefits to surveillance cameras in terms of security is that

  1. It can be used as a deterrent, and
  2. It can be used to catch out criminals and be used as evidence to successfully prosecute a criminal.

According to Simon Adcock of the BSIA, “Effective CCTV schemes are an invaluable source of crime detection and evidence for the police. For example, in 2009 95 per cent of Scotland Yard murder cases used CCTV footage as evidence.

Whilst it is unknown if the number of cases which are being solved is increasing with the use of security cameras, it seems that they are proving to be useful in providing evidence for cases.

Where are Britain’s Surveillance Cameras?

Unsurprisingly it seems that surveillance cameras are concentrated in certain areas where security is more of an issue.

  • 291,000 – 373,000 in public sector schools
  • 30,000 – 50,000 in independent schools
  • 80,000 – 159,000 in public health centres and surgeries
  • 53,000 – 159,000 in restaurants

These are all estimations however, as there isn’t one single reliable source of information on this matter, and perhaps this is the problem. The lack of regulation means that neither the Government, nor the general public know the extent of surveillance operations in Britain.

Other Surveillance

Britain’s surveillance operations aren’t just limited to cameras. There are other tricks which are used as well.

Surveillance is carried out on many aspects of our lives from our emails and internet use to phone calls and the collection of our biometric data, and most of it in the name of terrorism prevention. There is an argument that if you’re doing nothing wrong then there’s no problem in being watched. Is this a Britain that we actually want to live in?

Effective Surveillance

Most of us would have no problem with a little surveillance to protect our security, but the problem comes with over-surveillance. We live in a free and democratic society under the premise that we are innocent until proven guilty, and this is how it should stay.

The answer is effective surveillance. By using effective and up to date cameras we can ensure that we are getting the maximum effect for the minimum amount of surveillance. There are hundreds if not thousands of ineffective cameras out there and by ensuring that they are used to their full potential we can reduce the surveillance that we are put under as a whole.

Until there is some sort of regulation, we will never really know the extent to which we are under surveillance. What we need to be aware of however is whether it is cutting out our civil liberties in the name of making our country a safer one.

If you enjoyed this post then perhaps you would like to read “The Home Office Guide To CCTV Best Practices“?

Posted by Hermione Crone
24th July 2015