Brown hailed technology as the saviour of society, and said we must listen to those who say "that for too long we have used nineteenth century means to solve twenty first century problems". Of course surveillance cameras were part of his gushing praise for modernity: "CCTV cuts crime, and makes people feel safer - in some cases, it actually helps give them back their liberty, the liberty to go about their everyday lives with reassurance". What an incredible piece of doublespeak - how can liberty be increased by decreasing it?
And how did Brown come to the conclusion that CCTV cuts crime? Well he told his IPPR fan club that in Newcastle "after CCTV was installed, burglaries fell by 56 per cent, criminal damage by 34 per cent, and theft by 11 per cent". All seems done and dusted then doesn't it.
Except that he forgot to mention a few minor details. Like the fact that in a detailed report on CCTV in the UK - 'Effects of Closed-Circuit Television on Crime' (Welsh and Farrington, 2003) the effect of CCTV on crime in Newcastle was described as "undesirable". The headline figures that Brown used to prove CCTV's worth need to be looked at alongside underlying trends in crime and figures from areas in Newcastle without CCTV. In Newcastle, total crime fell by 21.6% in the area with cameras but by 29.7% in the area where there were no cameras! The fall in burglary that Brown uses is a fall from 17 a month to 9 in the area with CCTV compared to a fall from 75 a month to 46 where no cameras were installed.
So Brown's CCTV defence doesn't stand up at all. Neither does his unquestioning love of technology. Better community reduces crime, tecnology does not.