Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Telegraph bashes CCTV - again!

Happy New Year to everyone. It's nice to be back and what better way to kick off the new year than fending off another attack by anti-CCTV campaigners?

Article in today's Daily Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6867008/Number-of-crimes-caught-on-CCTV-falls-by-70-per-cent-Metropolitan-Police-admits.html

Metropolitan Police Service admits that CCTV is a load of old cobblers - OK, I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of the article is, the Met has changed the way it tabulates statistics about the use of CCTV and, according to the Daily Telegraph, this somehow proves that CCTV is pointless.

I won't go into all the deficiencies of this article - I'll just hit the highlights and you can read the rest at your leisure.

It says the number of crimes in which CCTV was involved in the Met fell while at the same time acknowledging that the method for recording the stats had changed as well. As any statistician will tell you, that automatically invalidates any comparisons.

The article then dregs up DCI Mick Neville's quote (taken out of context from a report about Operation Javelin) about 1 in a 1000 cameras, etc. But what's this? According to the Met's own statistics, which the article quotes, CCTV was involved in 121,770 criminal investigations in 08/09. If there are (allegedly) 1 million cameras in the capital, that works out to one crime investigated per 8.26 cameras. But of course even that's misleading because investigators frequently use more than one camera to investigate a crime, as you would expect, so if for instance they used an average of four cameras per crime, then 8.26 becomes closer to 2.0.

Of course, as a CCTV User Group member wrote recently, cameras are used for far more than just crime prevention and investigation - they are also used for public safety, finding lost people, traffic monitoring, fire detection, and so on. And the staff in the control room often do more than simply monitor CCTV, they also provide a vital link between the council and the community through Careline, for instance.

But I digress...

In the very next paragraph, the author acknowledges that one in seven investigations used CCTV (which sounds pretty positive to me) but he paints it as a failure because it fell from 1 in 2 in 03/04, even though he acknowledges that the method for tabulating the statistics had changed during that time period (I'm feeling a bit dazed and confused at this point!).

Although there is an unattributed comment from "Scotland Yard sources" which underscores the fact that the counting method had been changed, not once in the article has the Met Police or any other force been given the chance to put the figures into perspective.

The last half of the article reads like a random cut and paste job, cherry picking negative quotes from every anti-CCTV article ever written, until the author gets to the obligatory rebuttal at the end. Having spent 34 paragraphs slaughtering CCTV, he gives Simon Foy (head of Homicide and Serious Crime Command at the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Directorate - a person who should know something about the effectiveness of CCTV in criminal investigations) just one paragraph to reply!

At least Mr Foy gets the last word. LOL!

So Happy New Year to all of you. If this says anything about 2010, it is perhaps that we can look forward to much the same from the anti-CCTV lobby as we saw in 2009.

1 comment:

  1. http://tinyurl.com/ya64ukj
    short link to the article - Chris