This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Should a network of CCTV cameras be installed in public spaces to reduce and solve crime?

Should a network of CCTV cameras be installed in public spaces to reduce and solve crime?

You leave the underground parking lot of your condo, drive to work and park in a public parking lot. Then you walk to the bank machine, get a coffee and head to work. First stop after work is the gym, then the grocery store and back home. But did you even realize you were being recorded for much of that journey?

By the time the average person has finished their day, they are likely to have passed by several CCTV cameras. They are in most underground parking lots, shopping centres, hotels, every bank and ATM, and even some fitness clubs.

In 2009, a count was done in Vancouver on the number of CCTV cameras and over 2000 were found in the downtown core alone. Who knows how many there are right now?

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Following the sexual assaults that occurred around the University of B.C. campus last year, many were calling for the installation of CCTV cameras to ensure student safety. Others cited privacy concerns and civil liberty infringements, and the university decided that no new cameras would be installed until a full security review was completed sometime this year.

In fact, while many law enforcement officials and governments around the world have heralded them as a major crime-fighting tool, that claim is questionable. For instance, the U.K. has a large network of CCTV cameras and yet there is ample research to show it has only a modest impact on general crime rates – and then only in specific circumstances…

Read the rest of this weeks column,vote and or comment at this link:

6 thoughts on “This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Should a network of CCTV cameras be installed in public spaces to reduce and solve crime?

  1. To most, a closed door is a locked door. It has been proved in England (has the most CCTV per capita) cameras were not a deterent to crime. The best deterent is good old fashion parenting. Failing that, sentencing.


  2. Laila is correct on this one but will lose the duel because of the false sense of security cctv creates. The numbers prove that while the rate of crime may be reduced upon implementation, cctv does not prevent it. In fact rates of crime return to statistical norms in short order with or without cctv.

    CCtv is a cost effective response to criticism that many law enforcement agencies face when combating crime. The fact is, that increased police presence is an immediate and lingering deterrence to street and community crime. It does require interaction between citizens and police, both good guys and bad. Foot and bike patrols are the most effective, however they are expensive.

    If there is any benefit to cctv, it is an assist in solving crimes after the fact, again not to provide protection against crime.

    Undisclosed surveillance is a slippery slope and not unlike the revelations that “Snowdon” revealed, the law enforcement establishment will always overreach in its use of invasive observation.

    The younger among us like to parrot the belief that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. This position has largely evolved post 911 and has traction with most people. However, when you examine the multiplicity of uses, especially in environments where you and I must voluntarily submit to use, it is not justified.

    Video surveillance very quickly morphs into audio surveillance.

    As technology advances, eye and fingerprint scans will want to be used more frequently. In the end, vast amounts of personal data are collected on you in a fashion that very quickly can be used to deprive you your right to privacy and freedom of choice.

    The downside is far greater when compared to the notion that law abiding citizens voluntarily comply with law. In fact cctv diminishes this level of compliance replacing it with a rights based argument that must constantly be proven in court. Not a cost effective model at all.

    Use cctv for what it is, not what it cannot achieve.

    The best deterrence will always be reflected in the degree to which we all interact at the human level, in communities and neighborhoods everywhere. Unfortunately that is becoming less and less in a tech driven world.


    1. Great comment – there really isn’t anything I can add to that except that everything you say is backed up by a number of research studies. Technology has become so invasive and we are becoming so used to it being that way, very few even stop to think about the implications.


  3. Nothing replaces police officers on the street. Cameras are an invasion of our privacy, especially in public spaces. In underground parking lots, o.k. but the rest of it, not so much.

    If it doesn’t have a major impact on crime than why the major impact on our privacy. Once it is known where the cameras are, real criminals will simply avoid them. These cameras will not deter spur of the moment, drug induced crime. Career criminals will find away around them, The cameras give a false sense of security. it is best not to leave your security up to a camera. all that will happen is someone can watch while you are mugged or killed.

    Cameras maybe less expensive than police officers on the street, but nothing works better. I’d certainly pay more taxes for more police officers on the street and out of their cars and less cameras.


  4. Sure doesn’t work in Surrey, 4 or 5 murders solved out of an all-time high of 25 in 2013 and beats the old record in 2005 and made Surrey the Murder Capital of Canada…..again. I would be interested to know what the success rate for arrest and conviction is on all crimes committed.
    It would also ‘help’ if the RCMP answered and took note on all calls in Surrey and warned the public about all serious problems, unlike in the recent past.
    That liquor bar in Surrey Firsts new $$$billion RCMP digs that it seems all other mayors (and taxpayers) except ours refuse to pay for, needs to be REMOVED IMMEDIATELY….No need for drinking before, during or even after work unless the cops and city hall visitors are taking a cab and never driving home after work. How many cameras are focused on this insane idea? I would also be interested to know exactly who is allowed in and when they consume the liquor. Perhaps a citizens arrest here is more effective than just cameras.
    All these cameras everywhere are only used for governments spying, they work for little else. Get rid of them all and get a local police force and a new government in November.
    Think there is a lot of troll voting going on again on this one.


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