Britain has one CCTV for every 32 people, reveals study

March 4th, 2011 - 6:30 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 4 (ANI): A study has revealed that Britain has one CCTV camera for every 32 citizens, and the revelation that 1.85 million cameras are watching their every move has come as a big shock.

The revelation of the extent of surveillance in 21st century Britain came a day after it emerged tiny drones could be used to spy on Britons.

The research involved police community support officers counting every camera in Cheshire and extrapolating the results nationwide to provide a reliable estimate of the level of CCTV surveillance in the UK.

According to a study published in CCTV Image magazine, officers counted 12,333 cameras in the area, the majority of which were inside premises, rather than facing public street.

The research also found that most CCTV cameras in the UK are likely to be privately owned, with only 504 of Cheshire’s cameras run by public bodies.

After the Cheshire results were extrapolated nationwide, taking into account urban and rural areas and transport networks, the number of cameras was adjudged to be 1,853,681 - enough for one camera for every 32 citizens in the UK.

Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard, the lead on CCTV for the Association of Chief Police Officers said the latest numbers, based on a map of CCTV systems in Cheshire, were intended to “inject more rigorous figures into the debate” over Britain as a surveillance state.

A widely quoted estimate of 4.2 million cameras in the UK was based on a 1.5km road in a busy shopping district and extrapolated out for the entire UK, he explained.

And the previous estimate that the average Briton is caught on security cameras some 300 times a day was based on a fictional tour of CCTV hot spots.

However, he said the figure of 1.85m is still a significant number of CCTV cameras.

“I’m not saying for a minute that this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of cameras,” the Daily Mail quoted him as admitting.

Gerrard confirmed he was surprised to learn of other research, which suggested the London underground network houses as many as 11,000 cameras.

“Eight years after the 4.2 million figure was first published, we now have research that indicates that the figure is less than half this guesstimate,” Gerrard wrote in CCTV Image.

“We also know that unless you make a particular point of visiting as many CCTV hotspot areas as you can, you are unlikely to be captured on CCTV 300 times a day,” he stated.

He admitted the latest figures were still estimates, but said they showed the number of CCTV cameras in the UK to be around 1.85 million.

However, Isabella Sankey, director of policy at the campaign group Liberty, said the figures would do little to allay concerns about surveillance in Britain.

“Who cares if there is one camera or 10 on their street if that one camera is pointing into your living room?” she asked the Guardian.

“Concerns about CCTV are not a simple numbers game; what’s required is proper legal regulation and proportionate use,” she added. (ANI)

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