The Daily Mail reports that councils around the country are cutting back on CCTV amidst the economic downturn. The Mail quotes Surveillance expert Professor Nigel Gilbert, "who last year produced a report for the Royal Academy of Engineers calling for a halt to CCTV cameras until their need was proven". Gilbert told the Mail:
The evidence suggests surveillance cameras are completely useless as a way of reducing crime, their only use is as a way of collecting evidence a crime has been committed- it doesn't stop it happening in the first place. The public has been misled into believing that it's a silver bullet for crime reduction and actually it is not. I suspect that councils are realising this and therefore it is not a very high priority to look out for crime on CCTV systems. It is not an efficient or cost-effective use of resources.
The article states that it costs Worcester City Council £140,000 a year to pay staff to monitor the town's 63 surveillance cameras "a burden it can no longer afford".
Also quoted is Dr David Murakami-Wood, from The Surveillance Studies Network who said:
Councils are now having cameras on with no one watching or they are having to cut back staffing levels in the recession.CCTV is expensive - local councils did not really think about these costs when they joined the rush to install cameras funded by central government.Now many are realising that they have been saddled with a massive extra cost that in hard times like these can eat into their limited budgets for providing other forms of public safety.
There is a mountain of evidence showing that CCTV is a waste of public money and yet councils around the country continue to fritter money away on this illiberal technology. Now even more so than ever councils should take great care with public funds. Cutting back on CCTV would be a way to free councils from debt and citizens from unwarranted surveillance.