Feeds

CCTV steam train ignores detractors

Review concerned only 'stakeholders'

New hybrid storage solutions

A Police proposal to introduce a CCTV law will be published about three months late while the Home Office considers the concerns of social and civil liberties groups.

The joint review of CCTV "effectiveness" by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office was drafted in consultation with CCTV operators and law enforcers last year. But it has taken the effectiveness of CCTV for granted after the role it played in the wake of the 7 July bombings.

Sarah Douglas, staff officer to Graeme Gerrard, deputy chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary and co-director of the survey, said it had been a "massive consultation [that involved] everyone you can imagine who is involved in CCTV".

Representatives of transport and retail industries, local authorities, and police anti-terrorism units formed the body of the proposals during a series of workshops held between January and October last year.

"All of them came up with similar ideas to what we've got," Douglas said. Citizen or civil liberties organisations were not consulted, and while their concerns had been taken into account "all along", they are now being considered by the Home Office, which has yet to sign the proposals off and pass them to ministers.

The proposals, revealed by The Register in November, include legislation to force all operators of CCTV equipment to upgrade it to police specifications. This would enable police to readily draw on footage and make it easier to apply emerging digital technologies such as those that automatically identify people and analyse their behaviour.

Watching The Detectives

Yet there is doubt that this would be the most effective, let alone cost-effective, means of reducing crime. A Home Office study, Assessing the impact of CCTV, was published two years ago and described how the nation's CCTV networks had been built on an unfounded belief that CCTV was effective.

The Crime Reduction Delivery Board, which commissioned the ACPO/Home Office survey, charged that they "review the current CCTV infrastructure and assess its effectiveness in terms of crime and disorder reduction and detection, taking into account developing technology and threats", the Home Office told The Register last year.

According to Gerrard's words on the draft in November, it was taken as rote after the 7 July bombings that CCTV was effective. What has become more important is whether the civilian CCTV infrastructure is adequate for police purposes. There is thought to be considerable public support for CCTV following its televised role in anti-terrorist investigations.

"That's the good thing about this issue - it has significant public support," said Douglas. "There are people in society who don't like CCTV and think it impinges on civil liberties, but most people think it makes them feel safer."

The question asked by the review, she said, was "how we improve CCTV in the next 10 years". Following the publication of the proposals - in a month,or so - will come an implementation plan, which will probably be a year in the making.

Martin Gill, professor of criminology at Leicester University, who wrote the 2005 report, was still sceptical of the Home Office plans for CCTV.

"I support CCTV, but not the mass use of it for everything," he said. "You might as well just put a policeman on every corner if you are going to approach it like that."

He acknowledged the need for concern about the effects of mass surveillance on civil society, but said there were more tangible problems, like cost: "Are they the best solution you have to the problem we've got."

There is a growing sense that the causes of crime have been neglected in the Home Office's desire to trap and punish. Gill said that a problem must be clearly defined before a solution could be proposed. But his report argued that CCTV implementations had put the cart before the horse. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.