Britain already has far more watchful eyes trained on its population than other countries. And new research suggests that public support for CCTV surveillance has grown following the riots which hit the UK this summer. The majority of those asked (76%) said they felt safer in an area where CCTV was in operation and 62% wanted to see more CCTV in their local community.
Footage from CCTV can certainly help in the fight against crime and disorder, and it played a high profile role during the summer disturbances. For example, in Bristol 127 people were captured on camera which led to 59 being identified by the Police and charged.
However, CCTV is not always as effective as it could be and I believe it is a tool to investigation rather than a preventative measure. Police are still hunting thousands of suspects involved in the riots and experts predict it could take up to two years to sift through all the CCTV evidence.
In order for CCTV to provide the best results it has to be monitored by trained staff that can identify suspicious activity. And even when it is in operation it is not always being watched. For example, in November council run CCTV systems were left unmanned overnight in Thanet for a week. Cameras still recorded footage to allow evidence to be collected but it meant Police would have been less able to deal with incidents if they occurred. How safe would people feel if they were aware that this was happening?
In my opinion, to make sure members of the public are protected it is better to have well trained staff on the ground than put our safety in the hands of a system which cannot always be relied upon.
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