It’s frustratingly difficult to find accurate statistics on the number of CCTV cameras in the UK, as the numbers vary a lot depending on the definition used – for example there are thought to be 1.85 million public facing CCTV cameras in the UK, but another figure commonly cited is 4 million. Could that 4 million be accurate when taking into account CCTV in the workplace and private CCTV on domestic or commercial premises? In any case, the UK has a high density of CCTV coverage, with statistics from 2013 revealing that there are over 33,000 cameras owned and operated by local authorities, 115,000 cameras on public transport and 10,000 cameras in London used for detecting crime.
CCTV is both a deterrent and a method of gathering evidence. When a criminal knows their actions are going to be recorded they may choose a different, less well covered target, or take steps to protect their identity if they must get caught on camera. Looking around for camera locations is also a sign that someone is thinking about committing a crime, but doesn’t want to get caught. Store detectives and CCTV monitors observe this behaviour and use it to pick out who is worth following. CCTV can be helpful in missing person’s cases as well, as the last recorded location is a vital piece of evidence in finding that person, or identifying a person they are with. Hours of CCTV can be trawled through to identify a person; a particularly notable case being David Lytton, the Man on the Moor who was found on Saddleworth Moor in 2015 with no identification. Police used CCTV alongside medical records and DNA testing to identify the man and piece together his last movements.
Integrating facial recognition technology with CCTV is a relatively new development, although facial recognition software has been around for quite a long time. There are ethical and legal implications in using facial recognition by default, but China and Russia have already successfully deployed this to catch criminals they would not have located otherwise. Police in London used this in processing footage from the 2011 riots, which allowed them to collect far more data than if all the footage had been reviewed by people. Allowing software to do this work for us will result in more correct identifications of wanted persons from CCTV footage, without the onerous burden of anyone having to manually and visually review all the footage ever recorded.
Domestic CCTV can be beneficial for the police and the community as well, because catching a burglar on camera stealing items from your home and getting a positive identification from the footage is more likely to result in a conviction than if there is no video evidence. The more people have CCTV or other image recording active in and around their home the more likely police are to get a successful conviction, thereby making the streets safer for everyone as there will be fewer criminals out there.
Domestic CCTV which captures images outside your property can also be useful for solving crimes or missing person’s cases where not much other evidence is present. Your domestic footage could help the police locate a missing person, it could be the missing part of the puzzle of someone’s whereabouts, and it could also help solve crimes that take place outside your door, such as mugging or assault.
Privately owned CCTV on commercial and retail premises can also be useful for the same purpose, so when you install surveillance systems at home or at work you’re doing more than protecting your own property and yourself, you could also be helping solve crimes that happen to other people, and helping to reunite missing people with their families. There’s surely no reason not to get CCTV on your property, so start 2019 off right and get in touch with us to get things started.