Over at Kent Online we learn that an astute commuter has established through Southeastern Rail's complaints procedure that some of their CCTV cameras are always switched off – not because of technical problems but as a matter of policy.
I mention it because, as I've written before, we can develop a false sense of security because of these cameras, and our overreliance upon this kind of technology can be cruelly exposed when the time comes for it to be tested and it fails to protect us in any way – and no alternative provisions are in place to look after us because of the money spent on the cameras and trust wrongly vested in them.
But here, we see that these cameras are doubly useless – it's not that they were accidentally switched off, or weren't working, or were pointed in the wrong direction, or recorded footage with a quality too poor to be used (all regular occurrences) – instead, apparent financial shortages mean that they're in place but switched off deliberately. Worse than useless – they've cost money to put in, and they give no protection.
All of that weighs against this technology before privacy concerns have even been considered. It's also worth having a reminder of recent academic research which undermines the usefulness of CCTV per se.
By Alex Deane