CCTV In the Dock

A Home Office funded review on the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in the fight against crime has found that it has only a ‘modest impact on crime’. The review, undertaken by the Campbell Collaboration found that the use of CCTV was not effective in cutting vehicle crime in car parks, especially when used alongside improved lighting and the introduction of security guards. The review’s conclusions are likely to prompt further debate not only on the cost effectiveness of using CCTV as a weapon to cut crime (CCTV is now the single most heavily funded crime prevention measure operating outside the criminal justice system) but also on whether the pervasive use of CCTV within our society can be justified, particularly given its potential to interfere with the right to privacy.  Notably, The Home Office cited the review in the context of its response to the House of Lords Comittee on the Constitution Inquiry into ‘Surveillance: Citizens and the State’ (and see my earlier post on the Committee’s report). In its response, the Home Office stated that: In reviewing existing policies and processes, the Government will seek to ensure that due consideration is given to the following key principles: Are robust safeguards in place to protect the information and indiviudal liberties? Are our plans and actions proportionate to the damage and the threat they are seeking to prevent? Are we being as transparent as possible? Are citizens being given the right amount of choice?The Home Office’s response should be read in conjunction with the Information Commissioner’s response to the Committee’s report which was published in 15 April 2009.