Does the Effectiveness of CCTV As a Crime Prevention Strategy Outweigh the Threat to Civil Liberties?

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CCTV can be viewed as part of:
CCTV then, has the ability to simultaneously intrude and protect. Whether it protects at the expense of people's civil liberties and, if so, whether this is always beneficial is the focus of this discussion.
A web of surveillance which far exceeds anything that is historically known … It can invade privacy and make Orwell's 1984 a reality. But it can also … be liberating and protective. Therefore, it may be socially beneficial as well as harmful. (Young, 1999: 192)
Those concerned about civil liberty issues may argue that whilst CCTV remains the dominant form of crime prevention in the UK, it is necessary to strive to achieve a balance of the rights to privacy and protection (Young, 1999). However, as is recognised in the Human Rights Act 1998, sometimes these competing claims are irreconcilable, with one inevitably taking priority over the other (Young, 1999).
This discussion will first set CCTV in Britain in its historical context. It will then address its uses and effectiveness, and examine how these have been evaluated. Concentrating particularly on the use of CCTV in public and semi-public places (as civil liberties concerns focus strongly on this area), the argument that CCTV threatens civil liberties will be examined. Finally, there is a suggestion that efforts to balance concern for civil liberties against crime prevention successes may be undermined in practice by influences beyond the control of both those involved in the CCTV industry and civil libertarians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-134
JournalPolice Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2004


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