In a generation where technology is evolving every day, one emerging problem seems to be worrying us all: Privacy. But one thing in particular has had a lot of debate recently on whether it’s use is affecting the rights of others: CCTV. Does CCTV ensure our security wherever we go, or does it only make us feel restricted and paranoid about always being “watched”?


According to the British Security Industry Association, there are around 6 million Close Circuit TVs across the UK, with around 627,000 operating in London. This means that for every 14 people living in the capital, there is one CCTV camera in place, which only emphasises how much of a tightly regulated industry security is in the UK. Not to mention, we are more than likely to find some sort of surveillance in all public spaces, such as airports, the Underground, shops, transport, and much more.  According to further research by the BBC and other requests for public information, there were around 15,000 cameras situated around the London Underground network and another 7500 that are distributed across all councils in Greater London.  But with no actual register of recording the number of CCTV cameras that are installed across the whole country, this is only an estimate. So, in fact, considering our growing population and the number of cameras per people, the number could rapidly exceed more than one million cameras by 2025! 


But quite evidently, we have to consider both sides of the argument: Security vs Privacy. On average how many times a day do you think you are captured by CCTV? 300 times to be exact! The main issue for people is how much of a private life they are getting. Even homes these days have their own privately-owned CCTV cameras to protect their belongings and property, and rightly so.  But realistically, how many people would feel comfortable about someone else having footage of them walking past their house? There are some rules that domestic CCTV owners must abide by however:


A sign must be put up clearly stating that CCTV surveillance is in place.

Any camera that is able to capture anyone must comply with the Data Protection act to ensure all individuals are protected.

But can we really consider this “protection”? Even now, we see them in public restrooms but is it really necessary to have them everywhere we go? Furthermore, can every single owner of a CCTV camera be trusted not to abuse the power they have by having one? Probably not.


Then we have its advantages: Security. Without CCTV cameras, could we still provide the public with the sense of protection wherever they go? The use of CCTV helps to prevent and deter people from committing crimes and without them, we would likely see a massive increase in crime. Location plays an important part in the effectiveness of CCTV. CCTV was most effective in locations such as car parks and other places where vehicle crimes were common.  According to the College of Policing, these crimes were reduced by 51% compared to locations that did not have such interventions. City and town centres also had a 10% decrease in crime. So wherever we go, it is safe to say that these types of surveillance have some sort of good impact on society. If used more often, could we reduce the number of people arrested for such crimes? Long term, it proves to be a strategic solution, but its modest effect has shown that it has not had the same sort of effect on violent crimes.  


So, it’s a difficult issue to debate. Do we need to think of more effective long-term solutions such as more policemen and women on the streets instead of hidden cameras to ensure public places are safe? Should there be stricter laws on the domestic use of CCTV? It’s definitely something to think about.