Walk 1.4 mi. in London, take photos of 140+ CCTVs

James Bridle photographed every CCTV between his home in east London and Dalston Junction, a 1.4mi walk with about 140 cameras. Welcome to London, where we have 11 CCTVs per red blood cells.

Every CCTV camera between my house and Dalston Junction (via Super Punch)


  1. Someone needs to make a website that takes the number of cameras, the cost of them, and how many crimes they helped solve/prevent just to show what they are good for.

    I suspect that now it would be easy, because IIRC there hasen’t been any crimes solved/prevented with the CCTV cameras.

      1. A “study” offering no evidence or citations and carried out by a police commander?

        1. What evidence have you got to back up your assertion that the study offers no evidence or citations?
          Or, to put it another way, have you even read it?

          1. The onus is on you since you brought it up. Your link gives no information whatsoever about the methodology of this study except for this tidbit of ridiculousness (my emphasis):

            Commander Simon Foy, Scotland Yard’s head of homicide, told the Daily Telegraph that the results of his study proved that CCTV cameras are as vital to detectives as forensic evidence such as DNA samples or fingerprints.

      2. And. Evidence in after the fact prosecutions of high profile cases, rapid response to real time crime or prevention of crimes in the first place?

        So many questions thrown up by this post. Who owns them? Who’s watching? How many are recorded for how long vs watched in real time? How many do Police have direct access to vs requiring a warrant to access? Do they have any effect on actual crime figures? How many belong to private traffic monitoring services or (outsourced) council parking enforcement services? The implication in most of these posts is that the UK is obviously a non-free police state because “cameras”. Reality is more prosaic. UK maybe on the bleeding edge of technology usage but while they are everywhere, nobody’s watching and they won’t be until the singularity and then it will be an AI.

        If central counter terrorism has full access to every camera with face, profile and gait recognition and automatic crisis/riot prediction (which we know because of Spooks), then why can’t Anonymous get access and give it to all of us via a searchable website. Or perhaps dotgov could provide an API and MySociety.org could do that.

        1. You left out how many are actually working or even real :P

          One of the many ironies of Cory’s position is that his conflation of private and public security cameras into one Orwellian whole, combined with his vocal opposition to restrictions on the use of cameras in public places by private individuals means he is simultaneously both for and against private individuals being able to use cameras without restrictions in public places.

        2. Very good points.
          I’ve always wondered why we cant freely access them considering they’re all in public areas. I asked this question on reddit/r/unitedkingdom and it got a hostile reaction for some reason.By the time any of the camera’s get linked up into any sort of coherent system they’ll all be broken or degraded as to not be able to provide any sort of reasonable quality image anyway.

    1. Also don’t forget to list how many of those are /privately owned/ by shops (answer: most of them) and thus have nothing to do with government.

      1. I do not claim to be an expert on CCTV in the UK. I was merely postulating that a website should be made that documents the pluses and minuses of the cameras.

        So a positive would be a robber being caught because of the footage of a CCTV camera.

        A negative would be a regular citizen being hassled because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        The issue with this is that you are going to have an inordinate amount of the ‘positives’ and almost none of the negatives being reported by the media/government. So the list would–if only using official news data–be heavily skewed from the beginning.

    2. Having worked in security I can tell you that they do work to solve crimes, very well a it too. They are not a deterrent they haven’t been a deterrent since about a year after the first CCTV camera was installed in a store when people realized they are only good when they see a crime, and not pointed the other way.

      1. Most security camera footage that I see is grainy, low FPS, and I have no idea how anyone outside of CSI with the Magic “ENHANCE!” button can make heads or tails out of anything they record.

        From what I remember someone telling me is that all they are meant to do is to help narrow down suspects–you might not be able to tell it was Joe McGuffin, but you would be able to tell it is NOT a person with brown skin. So anybody with brown skin you would not bother looking to as suspects.

        I could be wrong though. I have been in the past.

        1. Older camera’s recording to VHS tape are often grainy, especially if wide angle lenses are used, or iff fitted by untrained independent installers. A modern installation uses HD camera’s with PTZ functionality on almost all camera’s and have good quality CODEC’s used on the DVR used. Unfortunately  often good camera’s are installed, but data storage is expensive and the need to keep it for a long time means people often scrimp on the compression to squeeze more on the DVR. My system at work is 144 camera’s all recording in high definition to a rack mounted server in a secure building. People don’t care there are camera’s all over the place, they carry on regardless, they are always caught. The weakness in the chain is the DPA is too strongly worded, making a privately accessible database difficult to administer, allowing for security managers to identify offenders who travel from town to town committing thefts and then disappearing off to the next town before anyone finds out who they are. 

          I’ve had a decade in the industry and I do appreciate the dislike of CCTV, but the people who use them are trained, licensed and vetted to do so, and 99% of the time truly professional about what they observe. It takes one person to bring a hard working industry to disrepute and causes problems for the others working in this line of work. 

          1. I work IT/Servers/Help desk. I know exactly what you mean when you say it takes one person to make the rest of the profession look bad.

            I just question of the means justify the ends. You spend billions of dollars to catch what exactly?

            It’s like $50K dollar bombs on $50 tents.

  2. Oh all you people need to just shut up and stop complaining. You get to live in a magical city where absolutely every single criminal would be caught if it wasn’t for the fact that this deterrent has completely rid the place of crime.

  3. A lot of those don’t seem to be CCTV (council/ police operated cameras of public places) as much as “home security” style cameras overlooking commercial properties. I’ve never heard of people complaining about security cams inside a shop, so why the hate for one trained on the door?

  4. I think the point of the photos is simply to make one aware of the cameras, which fade into the background most of the time. 

    However, the panoptic theory of surveillance – the idea that if one is constantly aware of being watched, one will behave as if she is being watched even when she isn’t being watched – runs completely counter to the point of photographing them. The panoptic theory doesn’t actually work in public spaces, beyond normal social conditioning. We forget the cameras. We need to photograph them to remind ourselves they even exist. 

    I have a great many complex feelings and thoughts about surveillance, as it was an artistic obsession about 20 years ago, but I’ll stop there. Dataveillance is perhaps of greater concern today. 

  5. Most of those cameras belong to small businesses and just record in a loop.  It isn’t some big state surveillance scheme, just small companies trying not get robbed. 

  6. Forget all the cameras, look at all the mosquitoes – somebody should do something about that

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