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over using CCTV cameras
By Lindy Kerin
Posted Wed May 7, 2008 10:16am AEST
Criminologists in Australia agree that millions of dollars are
being wasted on CCTV cameras. (Getty Images: Bill Pugliano)
A top British police officer has thrown serious doubts about
closed circuit television or CCTV cameras as an effective tool
in crime prevention.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville, who leads Scotland
Yard's Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office says
despite billions of dollars being spent on CCTV networks, they
have failed to reduce crime.
Speaking at the Security Document World Conference in London,
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville said only 3 per cent of
London's street robberies had been solved using CCTV images.
He says no thought has gone into how the police should use the
images from more than 4 million cameras in Britain.
He described the system as an "utter fiasco".
Criminologists here in Australia agree, saying millions of
dollars are being wasted.
Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard from the Chief Police
Officers Association (CPOA) told the BBC it is difficult to
track down criminals caught on CCTV.
"If you recover fingerprints or DNA, you can match it against
national databases," he said.
"There is no national database of images of people. So whilst we
might have the images, the difficulty we then have is trying to
identify who it is and sometimes that isn't easy and clearly we
can do better."
In Australia, there has been an explosion of CCTV systems.
They have been installed near ATMs, shopping centres and public
transport systems, in capital cities as well as suburban and
Criminologist Professor Paul Wilson from Bond University in
Queensland has conducted one of Australia's largest studies of
He found the systems do little to prevent crime or catch
"I think the evidence is very clear," he said.
"Certainly from the study that we have done on CCTV, that CCTV
is not very good at preventing crime.
"It does detect crime partly because it picks up more crime that
is going on, but as a preventative device, it is not
"It can work as a device to detect criminals in some cases but
often the images are not very clear and do not provide material
which is good enough to detect or even prosecute people who have
Professor Wilson says despite the evidence, CCTV systems are
still being installed around the country.
He says it is an expensive system to set up and maintain.
"I think it's a great tragedy that Australian politicians at the
local and state and federal level believe that crime and
terrorism and antisocial activity generally, can be stopped by
having more and more CCTV cameras," Professor Wilson said.
"The evidence is very clear that it can't be and what we're
doing is pouring literally millions of dollars of taxpayers'
money into a crime prevention technique which only has very
limited results and ignoring other methods of reducing crime.