Don't worry, we've got them on CCTV…

TV static CCTV is in the news again this week. Taking top billing is Coventry's random act of feline cruelty, which seems to have grabbed the attention of the British public far more than something like, say, the floods in Pakistan.

But today we have a new CCTV story that once again demonstrates why camera surveillance is not the silver bullet to crime reduction that your council, the police and, sadly, the Government will claim:

As the Daily Telegraph explains:

A suspected thief caught red-handed by police after being filmed trying to burgle a hotel has escaped justice because prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge him.

The 26-year-old was one of two hooded men captured on CCTV trying to break into a closed bar area after walking into the hotel.

Despite the incriminating CCTV footage and the fact the suspect was caught attempting to flee the attempted break-in, he did not leave any fingerprints behind which would have helped build the case.

Massimo Menin, general manager of the three star Hotel Rembrandt, said: "We are absolutely furious and dismayed at the decision.

"We have had break-ins in the past and have paid thousands of pounds on 16 CCTV cameras and trained all of our staff so it was quite satisfying when one of them was caught."

Note, of course, that the presence of CCTV did precisely nothing to dissuade the intruders from attempting their smash and grab in the first place. 

But perhaps of more importance is the complete failure of CCTV footage to provide sufficient evidence to charge the (alleged) intruder.

When CCTV systems go up, costing "thousands of pounds" and frequently millions of taxpayer pounds, we are reassured that criminals will be caught and we will be safer.

Although I sympathise with Mr Menin and hope that the intruders are captured; I also hope that the outcome of stories such as this one is that people are less willing to accept the state-sponsored myth that more cameras equals more safety.

By Dylan Sharpe

Posted by on Aug 24, 2010 in CCTV | 6 Comments


  1. startledcod
    24th August 2010

    At least in the Coventry case the CCTV was private and not taxpayer funded. I hope that particular piece of footage does lead to the identification of the cat incarcerator.
    There are two simple questions that the CCTV Proliferators fail to answer: if CCTV prevents crime how come the explosion of CCTV cameras hasn’t led to an implosion in crimes committed, secondly, if CCTV is effective in securing convictions how come the explosion of CCTV cameras hasn’t led to a similar explosion in the number of convictions? Answers on a postcard please.

  2. Richardnicholas Mitton
    24th August 2010

    CCTV didn’t do much good for Jean Menzies either did it?

  3. ERM
    24th August 2010

    Nor Ian Tomlinson!

  4. NeverSurrender
    24th August 2010

    This is a short quote from a comment at the HMG Your Freedom website which I think puts the argument against CCTV very well. Not only does CCTV not work in preventing crime it leaves the innocent feeling threatened and criminalised.
    “It is normal, sane, human nature to feel threatened by surveillance. Surveillance is a hostile act. It accuses and threatens everybody, in fact especially the innocent, because surveillance is the infastructure of dictatorship, and dictators are most afraid of the innocent and are always very keen to find out anything about them that may be used for coercion, usually they are not above misrepresenting “evidence”.”

  5. Purlieu
    25th August 2010

    About that cat thing – the person was “identified by the RSPCA” …. what ?? So the RSPCA have the ability to identify a person from private CCTV footage now ??

  6. supra shoes 2011
    23rd March 2011

    I joined Netflix and received my first Seinfeld dvd the next day! I did not think I would get much use out of a dvd by mail company but 6+ years later, I am on my 2nd company and love it for the old TV shows not just movies.