There’s an interesting discussion on David Davis’ opinions about CCTV on Samizdata. Quoth Davis:
Today I have been explaining that I am not against CCTV- but if it is going to be used the cameras should be able to provide clear images and all of the evidence should be usable in court. Currently only 20% is usable. At the moment we just have a placebo effect for Citizen UK.
Many of the Samizdata comments focus on Davis’ support for CCTV as evidence of a less-than-liberal outlook, however I think he makes a partially valid point. I agree that the quality of images from CCTV systems needs to be sufficient to identify individuals: the evidence they collect is useless otherwise. Likewise, cameras should be installed so they are actually capable of capturing images of faces. Lenses on 10m posts look down on nothing but the tops of heads (and blouses, apparently). However, as I have previously noted, calling for better CCTV doesn’t imply support for more CCTV. This is where I too part company with Davis.
I fear the CCTV genie cannot be persuaded back into its bottle by rational argument, as public perception and the psychology of security theatre have significant bearing on the current situation, however I think we should be pressing for a massive reduction in CCTV covareage; effective regulation and licensing of schemes that can be proven useful; and improved installation- and technical standards all round.