Sometimes, the CCTV camera isn’t turned on – as a matter of policy

Cctv%20stock 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

Posted by on Nov 20, 2009 in CCTV | 3 Comments


  1. Nhoj
    20th November 2009

    It is irrelevant whether a camera is turned on or off. If a CCTV is pointing at you it is still a degrading and intimidating experience which robs you of your privacy and your freedom.
    Analogy – If someone is pointing a gun at you the last thought that went through your mind would be, “Oh, it probably isn’t loaded.” You will always react as if it is loaded. You cannot afford to take the chance that it isn’t.

  2. Eric of Walton
    22nd November 2009

    What about those TV cameras at Rail/Road Level X-ings which have replaced the Gatekeeper!
    If the cameora is switched Off OR, No-one is actually watching the screen in some distant remote centre miles away and there is an accident!
    UK has some 2,400 Road/Rail level x-ings. FRANCE NIL! These unmanned new X-ings are accident time bombs!

  3. Some Guy
    1st December 2009

    The surveillance cameras have never had anything at all to do with public safety. Their entire purpose from the beginning has been to intimidate the public and deter dissent.
    I look forward to the day that Britons realise that destroying a government camera is an act of patriotism.