But its such a lovely panopticon, I’d hate to have to return it

Anyone else not surprised by recently findings from this internal report form the London policy force? The net of it is closed circuit television (CCTV) camera do little to solve crimes. It seems that the success rate is 1,000 cameras per solved crime. Just a few million more cameras and we’ve got the crime thing licked, eh?

Questions that I’d like to see answered are:

  • How many crimes were not committed because of the presence of a CCTV camera?
  • How many crimes were committed in a different location because of the presence of a CCTV camera?

The first question is impossible to answer. The second can be answered and a UC Berkeley study of the city San Francisco’s CCTV camera efficacy has been released. You can ready about the results here and here. The San Francisco study shows the cameras move crime from areas near cameras to areas away from cameras – no big surprise there.

As I have mentioned previously on Tuesdaynight, trading the feeling of safety (without an actual increase in safety) for an invasive, always-on, 3rd-party-accessible video monitoring presence is a choice that leads to a far more paranoid society, less willing to engage in social behavior and less like the kinds of societies in which we want to participate.

2 Replies to “But its such a lovely panopticon, I’d hate to have to return it”

  1. Reminds me of the Benjamin Franklin quote which goes something like “those who trade liberty for security deserve neither”. In fact I remember it every single time I fly!

  2. The original quote is, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” What I love about that quote is the inclusion of the word “temporary.” It acknowledges something that we tend to forget – threats change and change faster than the typical defender can adapt. We must build a resilient society that adapts to all threats to itself – including short-termed threats from its constituents themselves.

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