I See You in ICU

“Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco.”

This is the estimation of the UK’s CCTV system by a senior police officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mike Neville, who also discloses the news that only about 3% of crimes are solved with help from CCTV footage.

Criticism of camera surveillance has ranged from the ethical (that it has severe implications for civil liberties) to the practical (that it doesn’t reduce crime so much as transfer it to another area). Now it seems these criticisms are moot, because the system is “useless” – a billion-point white elephant.

The Guardian notes that the UK has “more security cameras than any other country in Europe”, but, according to The Telegraph, even the Home Office concedes that 80% of the footage gathered from CCTV is “far from ideal” to the police.

The incompetence of the installation is compounded by the fact that CCTV is no longer even a deterrent. Criminals assume, usually correctly as it turns out, that it is not working.

And what is most deplorable is that questions were asked over 5 years ago about the effectiveness of CCTV. Was there pause for thought? Indeed was there pause for thought after a government report in 2005 concluded that:

Many projects did not have clear objectives. Partly this reflected an uncritical view that CCTV was ‘a good thing’ and that specific objectives were unnecessary. It also typified a lack of understanding of what effects CCTV could achieve and the types of problems it was best suited to alleviate.

The keyword here is “uncritical”. It’s a kinder way of saying ‘negligent’.

How else does a billion-pound investment achieve “almost worthless” results?

Is it the ‘Peter Principle’ at work here? Shouldn’t heads roll? Maybe it’s time for a purge of the plonkers who waste public money. It’s a depressing thought, but every penny the average person earns between 2 January and around 3 June each year is given to “decision makers” like the one’s responsible for this “fiasco” to spend on our behalf.

People’s labour is a precious commodity. We spend – quite literally – the best years of our lives working, often sacrificing our health in the process when we could be doing other things like spending time with friends and family, or flying kites in the park. It seems to me that those entrusted with the huge percentage we pay in taxes should be held accountable when it is pissed away like this.