CCTV density-maps of the UK

John sez, "As a UK resident I am getting increasingly pissed off with the amount of cameras aimed at me. I live and work in central London and cameras are everywhere. I was amazed to see from this map of the UK showing number of CCTV cameras per 1000 that London did not beat all. This place is crazy."

The borough of Wandsworth has the highest number of CCTV cameras in London, with just under four cameras per 1,000 people. Its total number of cameras - 1,113 - is more than the police departments of Boston [USA], Johannesburg and Dublin City Council combined.
The statistics of CCTV (Thanks, John!)


  1. Those statistics do not cover *private* CCTV cameras (which the authorities usually have access to when they want).

  2. Hmm Wandsworth outnumbers Jo’berg and Boston combined for CCTV. I wonder what the statistics are for firearms? I think most of us would prefer to somewhere where we are more likely to be filmed and shot!

  3. What’s missing here is a record of the number of people watching the CCTV in real time. And as usual it only looks at Council run CCTVs and not privately run ones or ones controlled by other agencies.

    See Stross and Macleod (and Doctorow) for examples of how increased automation in surveillance paradoxically makes it easier to live below the radar.

  4. there’s a game you can play in london. Stand on any street, close you’re eyes and face in a random direction. Open them and play ‘How many CCTV cameras are in my field of view?’ i find the average is about 4.

  5. I knew that Scotland hadn’t been felled by the Sassenach’s plaque of putting CCTVs everywhere. Phew!

    I has to be because their thinking has been kept clear and focused by a steady supply of good single-malt whiskey.

  6. PaulR@4: I’m afraid not.

    I live and work in Edinburgh, and pass something like 20 cameras on my daily commute, to say nothing about the dozen or so cameras on every bus, the images from which are displayed on a monitor at the front of the top deck; kind of like “see? we’re watching…”.

    It’s a bit better now that I’ve moved out of the city centre, but still definitely there. No idea why we don’t register on the map. Although yes, the whisky does help.

  7. Can anyone explain why the UK is adopting CCTV cameras so quickly and intensively? What cultural, political, economic forces have been at work on this? I would have thought that Orwell’s native land blah blah….

  8. Three of my friends have been victims of crime in London. Nothing world-shaking: a locked bike stolen and two purses taken by inept pickpockets.

    In each case, the crime happened directly in view of a police CCTV camera. One of my friends was told the tape would be checked and never heard from the officer again; the other friend was told that the camera wasn’t working; the third was told that they weren’t going bother checking the tapes because a couple of bike thieves targeted that spot “all the time” and always wore hats so their faces wouldn’t be caught on film.

    This is a big part of the reason why most Londoners (and presumably most other Brits) don’t care about the CCTV network: no-one seriously believes that anyone is actually watching the tapes. Unless you’re able to get angry purely about the principles involved (or to worry pre-emptively about the inevitable combination of CCTV with face recognition technology), it’s very difficult to make people care. We tend to assume that our government is inept and incapable of any serious conspiracy. Of course, there’s plenty of “I’m innocent and have nothing to hide” and simple obliviousness to the fidelity, zoom and sheer number of CCTV cameras mixed in with that.

  9. As my boyfriend, a resident of Wandsworth, pointed out, how many of them are actually working?

  10. #6, RainyRat:

    No idea why we don’t register on the map.

    It’s because the survey was only of 100 local authorities, not the whole of the UK. Some borough councils in Scotland were included, and apparently “the Shetland Islands Council [has] more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department.”

  11. There seems to be something wrong here.

    The graphic suggests to me that there are ~25 cameras per 1000 people in West Sussex. (Compared to only ~4 per 1000 in Wandsworth.)

    But according to the BBC website: ‘West Sussex has the highest number of CCTV cameras in the sample of English counties, with 0.52 per 1,000 people. ‘

    So which is it, ~25 per 1000 or .52 per 1000?

    And does West Sussex have the highest number of cameras or the highest density of cameras relative to its population?

  12. “And does West Sussex have the highest number of cameras or the highest density of cameras relative to its population?”

    When all you’ll be able to see is a quick knee-trembler between Steve and Steve outside the Escape Bar, who gives a rat’s ass?

  13. Ok, we’ve got X data (cameras per 1000). Anyone care to supply Y data (crimes per 1000) and graph?

  14. These sorts of statistics can be more than a bit misleading.

    What happens if you have a tiny village with a population of 20 people, but that happens to have 5 CCTV cameras at the local station? That would equate to 250 cameras per 1000 people.

    Far more sensible would be to figure out the number of CCTV cameras per square mile.

  15. “..if you have a tiny village with a population of 20 people..” you don’t need cameras. The procedure (with apologies to Brent Butt) is:

    Policeman: “Can you give me a description of the person who robbed you?”

    Local Yokel: “Yes, it’s Dwayne!”

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