Bonfires were lit, fatted calves were sacrificed and sparklers were sparkled up and down the land today at the news of the creation of the office of the CCTV Regulator.
I jest. Of course, given where we are, if he actually acts as a brake on bad behaviour and encourages good behaviour then the regulator is a good thing – because CCTV is now so ubiquitous, so pervasive and so intrusive that we need someone to be responsible for usage and abusage. But that rather begs the question, doesn't it..? Should we have so much CCTV?
I'm not a technophobe absolutist – there is an important role for technology in law enforcement – but it’s a question of proportion: CCTV is now the single most heavily-funded crime prevention measure operating outside the criminal justice system, accounting for more than three quarters of spending on crime prevention by the Home Office.
We ought to learn from the fact that we’re the only country that’s gone so far down this path. The Shetland Islands has more CCTV cameras than San Francisco Police Department.
By Alex Deane