Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 2:42PM
Here's a news flash: more cameras doesn't necessarily mean less crime. It's true - the presence of surveillance cameras alone will not deter crime. The consistent use of footage caught by those cameras to successfully prosecute criminals, on the other hand, may, eventually. Everyone knows that the presence of cameras or even extra policemen is not a deterrent in and of itself; criminals need to fear that they will be caught and that, once caught, they will be punished.
In other words, surveillance cameras may not be the solution, but they are a key part of it. In downtown Seattle, for example, where the aim is to make it more difficult for the open-air drug market to exist, installing cameras on dark and hidden alleys once left to drug dealers immediately creates a less safe atmosphere for drug deals. In London, where a senior police official recently denounced the "deterrence" factor of surveillance cameras, investigators did use CCTV footage to catch suspects in the 2005 terrorist bombing. And Scotland Yard has said that rather than throw surveillance cameras out altogether, they need more sophisticated equipment that turns surveillance footage into actionable data.
Meanwhile, this guy had an interesting take on the whole thing that brings into play the ongoing privacy vs. security debate. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree, but it's a thoughtful, well-written take.