In recent months I seem to have posted several photos of ongoing surveillance, generally by people acting on behalf of the state. Perhaps I should start a collection of these! So, here is another one (Camden CCTV again) patrolling the streets near Euston. I wonder how much footage they take and what they do with the images.
This is what Camden Council’s website has to say on this under the heading of “enforcement”: “We have responsibility for the enforcement of the borough’s parking and moving traffic regulations and this is carried out by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) (formerly known as Parking Attendants) and through the use of CCTV. The scheme is part of the Association of London Government’s (ALG), the Mayor of London and London Borough of Camden’s commitment to the travelling public to keep London moving and ease congestion.”
What an amazing upgrade, Parking Attendants can now be confused with Chief Executive Officers!
- “to stop traffic congestion
- alienate inconsiderate motorists
- free up the bus lane to combat delays for commuters
- to allow the free flow of traffic
- improve journey times for bus users”
Am I the only one who finds words such as “enforcement”, “alienate” and “combat” just a tiny bit worrying? So, let’s keep watching the watchers…
How many ways are there for states to keep an eye on their citizens?
Yesterday, while leaving Euston station, I discovered yet another – mobile close circuit television cameras! As the photograph on the right shows, Camden Council now uses mobile CCTV cameras as part of its armory to detect wrongdoing – and have apparently been doing so since 2004!
As the Camden Council site comments, these cameras “will be used for surveillance in public areas across the borough. Operated by specially trained Police officers and Camden Council staff, the mobile cameras will help combat crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as improving road safety. Images of incidents captured by the cameras will be taken back to Camden Council’s CCTV centre in Kentish Town to be processed and passed to the relevant authority. Unit operators will be able to radio for extra Police help where necessary”.
Mind you, the two men in the car looked quite surprised when they saw me taking a photo of the car!
The Times yesterday published another article on CCTV cameras and surveillance in the UK, noting that the frequently cited claim that there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in use in the UK is based on a survey of only two streets in London seven years ago! Police forces across the country are now being asked to locate and record the location of every camera in the country – so that they can be used to identify suspected ‘criminals’.
Filed under Ethics, ICT4D