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use is a fiasco: top cop
May 6, 2008.
Billions of pounds spent by Britain on security cameras have
failed to cut crime and it has been "an utter fiasco", a senior
detective has been quoted as saying.
Britain has the most surveillance in the world, according to
civil liberty groups and security experts, with an estimated 4.2
million closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in place on
buildings, shops, roads and train stations.
But the Guardian newspaper reported Detective Chief Inspector
Mick Neville of London police as saying that only three per cent
of the capital's street robberies were solved using CCTV footage
and criminals were not afraid of being caught on camera.
"CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure," said
Neville, head of the Metropolitan police's division on visual
images, identifications and detections.
"Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has
gone into how the police are going to use the images and how
they will be used in court," he told the Security Document World
Conference in London, according to the Guardian.
"It's been an utter fiasco."
Neville's comments echo a government report last October which
said most CCTV footage was not of good enough quality to help
police identify offenders and many cameras were focused on
enforcing bus lanes as well as stopping crime.
It said anecdotal evidence suggested that over 80 per cent of
CCTV images supplied to the police were not up to scratch.
Neville is now leading an initiative to increase conviction
rates from CCTV by setting up a database of images to track down
offenders and to put pictures of suspects in crimes such as
muggings and rape on the internet, the Guardian said.
"This has got to be balanced against any Big Brother concerns,
with safeguards," he said.
Work is underway on whether software can be developed to perform
automated searches for suspects on footage, while Neville said
officers needed more training on using CCTV with many put off
because "it's hard work".