"The Price of Privacy: How local authorities spent £515m on CCTV in four years" is a new report from Britain's Big Brother Watch, and it documents how the skyrocketing expansion of Britain's police and local government surveillance has resulted in over 4,000 fewer patrolling police officers, less privacy, and no appreciable reduction in crime.
CCTV has been viewed by those controlling expenditure as a cheap alternative to conventional policing, with no demonstrable equivalent success in reducing crime.
The efficiency of CCTV varies hugely across the country, with cameras regularly not working or turned off, footage being deleted before it can be used and pictures of insufficient quality for court purposes.
Local authorities have spent an unprecedented amount of money to make the United Kingdom the most watched nation of people anywhere in the world. That amount of spending on CCTV is steadily increasing, with funds being diverted from conventional policing budgets to pay for the new technology.
CCTV serves as a costly placebo for many local authorities designed to appease neighbourhoods suffering from anti-social behaviour problems.
As the number of CCTV cameras increases, so does the potential number of people being watched and the number of council officers watching – with worrying implications for personal privacy and data security.
The lack of enforceable regulation means that more intrusive use of CCTV – for example, in public toilets, schools or with audio recording capability – can only be challenged in the courts by way of judicial review.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.