Previously Posted: “Say Cheese”

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

“Say Cheese” (18.03.09)

There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people – making it one of the most watched places on earth.

London alone has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million. While England has the distinction of owning 20 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras.

But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.

A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

A recent piece of research found that during a journey across London 300 cameras recorded your movements. Police now say they can track potential suspects on their entire transit across the Capital. We have cameras for police detection, red routes, traffic lights, council by-law infringements, monitoring customers in and out of shops, and yes we even have them in cabs.

So with all this monitoring of our movements I was concerned recently when the Government announced the publication of a White Paper which proposes now to monitor all our telephone calls, texting, e-mails and internet activity, to “combat terrorism”.

Now please correct me if I’m wrong but these terrorists seem to have done far less than the IRA, and even at the height of the IRA atrocities when they were killing members of Parliament, such draconian measures were not proposed.

Recently one such “terrorist” has been found guilty after blowing himself up in an Indian restaurant toilet, giving a whole new meaning to having a dodgy curry.

The proceeds from traffic cameras go to National Government and Swindon Borough Council have said it is a blatant tax on motorists and have proposed removing these devices as the borough does not receive any financial benefit from them.

Surveillance now comes in many forms: 4.2 million CCTV cameras in England; 300 CCTV appearances a day; Registration plate recognition cameras; Shop RFID tags; Mobile phone triangulation; Store loyalty cards; Credit card transactions; London Oyster cards; Satellites; Electoral roll; NHS patient records; Personal video recorders; Phone-tapping; Hidden cameras/bugs; Worker call monitoring; Worker clocking-in; Mobile phone cameras; Internet cookies; Keystroke programmes, even in his wildest imagination could George Orwell have dreamt this up. In fact you are probably recorded on over 700 data bases each.

Now forgive me for asking a rather stupid basic question . . . isn’t the tired motorist always being told to take a break on long journeys? A young woman recently thought she was doing the right thing when she pulled into a motorway services at midnight on the way home from London to Preston. Good so far, but then she made a horrendous mistake and caught some sleep. After dozing off in the car park, she awoke at 1.30 a.m. and drove the remaining 35 miles of her journey – only, wait for it, to be sent a £50 fine a few days later. She had been caught by the service station spy cameras, which had snapped her number plate for overstaying the two-hour parking limit at Lymms Services on the M6. The CCTV shows her fast asleep in the car. All motorists who wish to stay longer than the free two-hour period have to pay a flat rate of £15 for up to 24 hours . . . sigh and goodnight!

All look at the camera now, say “Cheese”!

2 thoughts on “Previously Posted: “Say Cheese””

  1. To add another perspective to the debate, when I worked for Special Ops in the Met Police from 2004, I sat in a small (secret) room with access to many CCTV cameras. They were incredibly useful in not only catching criminals and possible terrorists, but also detecting them and stopping them before the crime happened. We also had access to the CCTV operated by the local councils, and could follow suspect people in real time over a large area of London.
    Not all of those stops and arrests are made public, very few of them in fact. But they do happen, numerous times every day, seven days a week.
    Like anything, it has its flaws, and misuse. Such as fining the sleeping lady for no good reason.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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