Public CCTV surveillance has been shown not to be particularly effective in preventing violent, or drunken street crime or terrorism. Studies have generally accepted that there can be a reduction or displacement of crimes against property, which is why many local shopkeepers tend to support such schemes.
Richmond Informer Friday March 17th 2006
A case of Can't Cope TV
Cops Say they havn't got time to analyse video of burgalry
By Natalie Arsalane
A Teddington shopkeeper who was burgled has criticised the police after they refused to check CCTV footage - because they did not have enough man-power
Nigel Dawes' shop - Teddington Station Garden Centre - was burgled on February 26.
Thieves stole £400 worth of plants from the store, in Station Road, despite a council-run CCTV camera being yards from the shop.
When Mr Dawes contacted the police, he was told that because he did not know the specific time the theft took place, they could not check the film.
He then asked if he could check the tape himself, but Richmond Council would not allow him.
What is the point of such a public CCTV surveillance system if does not deter criminals and if nobody checks the footage ?
Mr Dawes said he was shocked by the reaction he received from officers and Richmond Council.
"The burglary must have happened on Sunday evening, so it would not take that long to look at eight hours of footage and see if anyone is on the camera," he said.
"The culprits were not taking small items - we're talking about £400 worth of plants - so I'm sure the film must show something.
"I was more than willing to look at the footage myself as they didn't have time but they told me that was not possible. It's a disgrace."
A spokeswoman for Richmond Police said it would take a long time to go through 15 hours of tape.
Have they really not yet worked out how to use the fast forward facility on a video player ?
"Police policy for Richmond borough is being reviewed regarding appropriate use of police resources to view CCTV footage, of a length over 30 minute," she said
Is this Metropolitan Police policy really being reviewed at the moment, or is it always "under review", especially when a local newspaper reporter is asking awkward questions ?
"If it can be positively stated that the subject is on tape and a reasonable time scale given, then the footage will be seized and viewed,
Note the Police jargon here - "the footage will be seized"
This is a Local Government taxpayer funded, CCTV street camera system, not an illicit pornographic video studio - why is it "seized" rather than "routinely requested" ?
What happened to "policing by consent of the local community" ?
"It is not operationally possible to view all CCTV footage, therefore, viewing importance is weighed against the realistic chance of obtaining images of the suspect."
A spokesman for Richmond Police said: "Residents have no rights to look at data we have recorded of a crime being committed.
"There are various reasons for this, including the Data Protection Act, Human Rights Act and Criminal Evidence Act."
So why should we waste more money on such CCTV surveillance systems ? We obviously already have far more than we can cope with.
Why should there continue to be a "post code"lottery" patchwork of different and unequal CCTV surveillance practices. within London and the rest of the United Kingdom ?
Richmond Council appear to have an incredibly bureaucratic and very intrusive "Subject access request form" (.pdf) for CCTV images, which asks for all sorts of irrelevant personal data
Title (tick box as appropriate) Mr Mrs Miss Ms
Other title (e.g. Dr., Rev., etc.)
Maiden name/former names
Sex (tick box) Male Female
Date of Birth
Place of Birth Town County
Your Current Home Address (to which we will reply)
A telephone number will be helpful in case you need to be contacted.
If you have lived at the above address for less than 10 years, please give your previous addresses for the period:
Dates of occupancy From: To:
Dates of occupancy From: To:
What is the justification for previous names and addresses or your sex. height or place and date of birth ??
There is also the risk of them losing not one but two of your "official" identity documents.
To help establish your identity your application must be accompanied by TWO official documents that between them clearly show your name, date of birth and current address.
For example: a birth/adoption certificate, driving licence, medical card, passport or other official document that shows your name and address.
Also a recent, full face photograph of yourself.
Failure to provide this proof of identity may delay your application.
The requirement for a recent, full face photograph means that even a Passport or the proposed National Identity Card will not be sufficient, since that photo could be up to 10 years old.
This "proof of identity" is not far short of the ID Card or Passport application and enrolment process, and, in itelf, contravenes the Third Principle of Data Protection:
3. Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.
on a form which quotes the Data Protection Act 1998 !
N.B. This is not the same as filling in their "Access to CCTV image request form" (.pdf)
In this case, they will probably wait the statutory 41 days, to reply, ask the shopkeeper for the maximum £10 fee, and then, some indeterminate time there after, tell him that they have already deleted it after 30 days since February 26th.
This fact that the CCTV tape could already have been erased or overwritten, will also stymie any Police investigation request under Section 29 of the DPA.