They look faintly sinister, Orwellian almost, like something that would be more at home in 1984 than 2010. These new cameras with I presume 360 degree vision are designed to make us feel safer.
Forget North Korea. Britain is the most surveilled state in the world. We have 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras in the UK – over 4 million cameras watching us as we go about our daily business. Now three more in Basildon.
In 2006 you may recall that members of the Surveillance Studies Network produced a report on the surveillance society. It makes for shocking reading:
And what do these cameras do?
They don’t deter the petty anti-social behaviour that plagues most ordinary shoppers – kids on bikes were still racing dangerously and recklessly through the crowds at the weekend. How do they improve the quality of our lives?
In 2005 the Home Office published a study into the efficacy of CCTV. It’s results were far, far from conclusive:
I find this continual erosion of personal space alarming.
And the Tories show their true colours when they come out in favour of the surveillance state.
Three cheers for this Ben – we are just walking into this nightmare! Such complex issues lie at the root of this including fear of ‘others’ and the erosion of community. Strong societies can act to constrain poor behaviour and this shifting of responsibility upwards to faceless CCTV watchers is leading us to a false sense of security. Blurry images of hooded/ski mask wearing perpetrators are no substitute for proper parenting, early intervention for families who need help and good fair policing.