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rob-magic

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Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« on: July 10, 2008, 01:53:43 am »
Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
CNJ Online – June 30, 2008

How do you behave when you are being watched by a police officer? Certainly, you would be less likely to misbehave, but you would also be less likely to behave in an ordinary and carefree way.

People who are closely watched by authorities tend to avoid anything that might create attention, even if they are doing nothing wrong. They tend to watch what they say. It’s quite nerve wracking, actually, to be watched by someone with the authority to arrest or roust you.

Of course, society needs a certain level of policing. But whereas normal police activities tend not to be overly intrusive for passersby, the increasing tendency of governments to install video cameras in public places has chilling implications.

In those cases, police use high-definition cameras to watch and zero in on the citizenry. Those who are within range of the camera must realize that they might always be watched.

Such Orwellian policies have expanded as a way to fight crime. Officials often exploit the fear of crime and find an investment in new technology to be the path of least resistance.

But too few people are considering the ramifications of such policies. Fortunately, a new study by University of Southern California researchers, released by the California Bureau of Research, looks into the effect of video cameras in the city of Los Angeles.

The study focuses on cameras in two neighborhoods: at Hollywood and Vine, and at the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts.

The research found no significant correlation between crime rates and the cameras. As an ACLU analysis of the report explains, “In Hollywood, violent crime decreased less in target areas with cameras than in the surrounding areas … . Property crimes in Hollywood decreased slightly more in the camera area (17.8 percent to 16.4 percent), although rates of vandalism and auto theft fared worse than in control areas.” Equally insignificant disparities were found in the Watts housing project.

Certainly, such a study needs to take front-and-center in a debate over the expansion of these surveillance programs. Unfortunately, as the ACLU pointed out, such programs have expanded with little study and little debate.

The ACLU is rightly concerned about the civil liberty implications of such ‘round-the-clock monitoring of the population: “(P)eople simply act differently when they are being watched — they censor what they say, how they behave, and whether they stay in a surveillance area at all. As such, cameras threaten First Amendment rights of speech and association.”

We agree.

The ACLU also found the possibility of abuse of the cameras, pointing to instances in Great Britain where camera operators use them for “voyeuristic reasons” — i.e., to ogle women and zoom in on minorities in particular.

And, of course, such cameras are quite costly.

We expect the normal reaction from the law-and-order crowd: “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.” We’d remind those who echo such sentiments to realize those are appropriate views in totalitarian and police states, not in free and democratic societies.
www.cnjonline.com/opinion/watched_28882___article.html/behave_tend.html

Offline Krippers

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2008, 11:21:23 am »
Well rob,

I have to say a big well done to you for engaging a very real, growing, and very insidious problem O0

The report is a good one, and indeed it does highlight a very big point in this domain. That of 'what the hell is the real point?'

The Government stance is the same as many right-wing advocates of punitive surveillance, in that "If you are doing nothing wrong then why should you worry about surveillance".

I would like to indicate to those members of Government and society that are of the mind that cameras are a deterrent that all they have to do is go to Sky TV and observe the 24 hours of 'reality tv' (police camera action, police stop, binge Britain, to name a few) showing exactly how cameras are not stopping crime.
 
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008, 11:54:51 am »

It's a vicious circle from which Big Government has morally and financially excused itself from.

Big Government, whilst emptying our pockets, is only prepared to shell out a little towards traditional beat policing.  With a genuine shortage of trotters on pavements and snouts in grasses faces, Big Government decrees that the answer to all town centre and neighbourhood crime lies in remote controlled cameras, everyone an electronic scare-crow policeman...with all the immediate efficacy of a real policeman who's been tied to a lamp post.  Some of them even have loudspeakers now, giving the civilian operator, (probably one of Inswindons Street-Monkeys),  "Stop!, or I will be forced to shout STOP again!".

Even worse, with little possibility of getting more police, or perhaps any police in the places we would like to see them, a worried public takes what is on offer and perhaps too easily accepts Big Governments assurances that they'll be safer with than without.  What Big Government keeps fairly quiet about is that the process of replacing real policemen with cctv cameras forces local councils to take on the responsibility of running them.....perhaps contracting it out to private companies.

Councils aren't police forces, yet more and more legislation from Big Government is forcing them to become exactly that. This is what Big Government really means when says it wants to give town halls more power....it's actually shifting the expense and responsibility for many traditional policing roles onto councils, meaning that we pay for it at least twice, sometimes more. Safety Camera Partnerships anyone?.

The final insult added to the injuries suffered to people, their privacy, their property and their wallets is this: Just like enforcement cameras on the roads, cctv doesn't work in the way Big Government claims it does either, but they both cost us a lot of money. 

It's carnivalesque...Snake oil being peddled by smoke blowing and mirror brandishing thieves while an audience of almost 60 million spectators sit 'ooh'ing and 'ah'ing on the front show of a circus they don't want to leave.

Not Mrs Reid's boy....he'll be holding the tent flap up and wafting fresh air into Big Governments Big Top as fast as his flabby little arms can be waved.....

 
 


Offline Krippers

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 01:21:07 pm »

Not Mrs Reid's boy....he'll be holding the tent flap up and wafting fresh air into Big Governments Big Top as fast as his flabby little arms can be waved.....

can the Krippers join this revolution of disillusion? I can, err, provide mooning services at said cameras, although I concede that these newer mini-cams that this council are in the habit of using may be difficult to locate and could lead to confusion about what I'm doing. M'lud.

 
In a world bereft of hope, lost to immeasurable inhumanity,   entrenched in commercial exploitation, devoid of hope, where's my underpants?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008, 02:12:42 pm »
...anyone can join, it's a free party...let's call it a 'Bring an attitude' party  :)

Parties can be organised almost anywhere, but preferably in locations where trainee ringmasters for the 'Big Governments Big Top' are holding court. In Swindon this would be the Council Chamber in Euclid street.

I've been called a lot of things in the past but the most offensive by far has been 'do-gooder'.  I wander along to council meetings for several reasons but the most important, imho, is to see whether our elected representatives actually understand what they are doing.  Now, on the relatively straightforward tasks of running the town I do genuinely think they have a fairly good idea of what they're doing, and when they don't.....there's a small army of officers in the background to help 'em along a bit.  The councillors may be up on the bridge, but the officers actually run the rest of the ship, including the post room.

Although it would be nice, we can't actually expect councillors to know as much as we do about certain other subjects.  Take the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act for example.  Until I went along to council and said a few words about Section 55 (Dog Control Orders), virtually none of the councillors had read the Act or understood it's importance regarding the councils role in local policing, yet they were all for adopting it with haste.  I bet less than 5 of them really understood that my objection to section 55 was not because I'm a dog owner, but because to adopt section 55 and embrace the C N & E Act meant the council would be taking over the role of policemen for every bye law that the act replaced.

In case readers haven't realised by now, I am resolutely against councils becoming a civic police force, and if you wonder why you need look no further than parking enforcement, (and very soon 'environmental' enforcement), in Swindon to understand why. Keep your eyes peeled for function creep.

....and then we had schedule 3a of the same Act, 'The Offence Of Unauthorized Distribution Of Free Printed Matter On Designated Land'.  'An end to leaflets' whittered Shirley Mathias of the the Adver...'You will stop leafleting' said the InSwindon Company to Maryln wossername from Swindon animal wotsit, (Simon will fill in the gaps!), 'Huzzah!, shouted the members of the council.

'Excuse me a minute' said Mrs Reids boy.... 'That's not what the Act say, means or implies'.  'Eh?' says the Council collectively.

I wrote out the question, pondered over a supplementary and then arming myself with a Lynda Warren stormed into the Council Chamber screaming:

Quote
"Oi!, you lot....I've got a loaded civil-libertarian here, and I'm not afraid to use her...'


She asked the question, Peter Greenhalgh confirmed that our understanding of the Act was 100%, we went away happy.  A few weeks later it's alleged than an Inswindon Street Monkey has prevented a bona-fide political leafleter from handing out leaflets but, as if this wasn't bad enough in itself, he's threatened physical harm against the leafleter for not doing as he's told.

Hmmmm. Not a policeman, not even a council officer, but the employee of a private company, under contract to SBC and therefore paid for by us, who is interpreting and 'enforcing' criminal laws ?, it's not clever and it ain't funny and goes a long way to explaining why I'm angry at Big Government for trying desperately to abdicate responsibility for on the streets policing.

Councils empty bins, sweep the streets, run schools, buses, libraries, housing, christmas lights and keep the civic swimming pools topped up.  Police do the policing, and never the twain shall meet.

Challenge everything from Big Government that changes anything at local level....because it will be a rare edict that does anyone down here any good.

With the likely exception of the Local Government Act 2000, that was a good one in my opinion, although iut did take any 6 years for it's 'woolly' element to be starched out of it  :)


Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008, 03:05:56 pm »
Just had my attention drawn to this, which was published earlier today:

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/3226398.I_spy_with_my_little_eye/

Quote
SECRET spy cameras have been deployed by Swindon Council 15 times in the past year to spy on youths, taggers and fly-tippers.

The Adver discovered that the council has been using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to covertly film people and sites.

The law, passed under terror legislation in 2000, has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year after councils elsewhere were found to be using it to spy on people ­ in a move condemned by civil liberties groups.

All of which are criminal acts...being investigated and policed by?  - 'Environment enforcement officers'.

So, bearing in mind the phenomenon of 'function creep', if councils are now undertaking investigations into criminal acts under the assumption that they are not just crimes against the environment but also crimes against society, i.e anti-social, how long will it be before councils are expected to investigate more serious crimes?.

At least Swindons 'New Motoring Hero' hero isn't beating about the bush....

Quote from:  Peter Greenhalgh (Con, Freshbrook and Grange Park)
.....cabinet member for highways, transport and Strategic planning said: "I am very uncomfortable with the council being involved in anything criminal and graffiti is criminal damage. That is a matter for the police. We can help the police but that is it.

"RIPA is the most insidious piece of legislation ever put in. "Put RIPA together with the ID card scheme and we have a very authoritarian state indeed."


Offline komadori

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008, 11:58:33 pm »
Whilst I agree in principle with what you say Geoff (and when it comes to officers of inSwindon, agree in practice too), if a government suffocates the police in red-tape so that policing becomes ineffective, what should local councils do? Sit-by and allow order to deteriorate, or take what actions the law empowers them to take?

I'd far rather the police were investigating criminal acts than the council. But, given the choice between the council investigating and no investigation at all, I'll opt for council investigation and take every opportunity available to replace the national government with one that will allow the police to be an effective force again.
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Offline DavidPayne

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2008, 12:46:04 am »
Geoff Reid for Mayor!

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2008, 08:09:36 am »
 
I'd far rather the police were investigating criminal acts than the council. But, given the choice between the council investigating and no investigation at all, I'll opt for council investigation

That's the crux of it - and I think most people would agree.....but using legislation supposedly intended to be used for anti-terrorism sets a dangerous precedent and when another local council used RIPA to spy on parents trying to get their children into a particular school, Central government described the councils use of RIPA as 'silliness).  For my part I'm left wondering how was evidence gathered for fly-tipping and graffiti prosecutions in the pre-RIPA days, any SBC officers care to comment?

I know the council are saying their use of RIPA has been proportionate and well considered in these cases, and at this point most people would probably agree,  I suggest keeping a careful eye on our council and putting regular FOI requests in about the use of RIPA.

But, at some point either this, or a future government, will probably exempt RIPA from FOI requests on 'security' grounds, by which point I hope to have encouraged as many people as possible to scrutinise the councils 'doings' and have Juneval's "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" question almost permanently on the tip of their tongues.




rob-magic

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2008, 12:32:53 am »
Remembering a recent article about the rucus in china, it could be argued that surveillance is criminal activity, as the media aired totally one-sided perspectives and changed the minds of people everywhere.

No police brutality was shown at all.


Good points you brought up Geoff. Go Geoff!

Offline komadori

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2008, 12:31:17 am »
I see that the council is now being recommended to invest more in monitoring CCTV in the town centre. Having read the Adver report, I looked at the report going to SBC's next cabinet meeting. The logic behind the recommendations is... err... slightly unclear.

Quote from: SBC
The Town Centre systems that exist are not currently monitored 24/7. The effect of this is that there is no pro-active CCTV cover at peak times. Similarly, if a major incident occurred in the Town Centre, coordination of the existing systems to monitor the incident and response is likely to be difficult.
...
Government’s national CCTV strategy identifies that an estimated 80% of data from CCTV is of questionable quality.
...
The recommendation is to develop a single control room, staffed 24/7, bringing together the key cameras from a range of systems.

So employ people to watch images, only one in five of which are expected to be of any use if anything untoward did happen.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the recommendations in the report were written first, then the 'evidence' added later, with no check as to whether the latter supported the former.
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Offline James

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2008, 12:27:46 pm »
Quote
4.1.4. Finance and efficiency
The Council’s approach is not cost-effective at present. There are a
number of systems that are not integrated or centrally coordinated. By
working with partners and adopting a greater cross-council approach,
there is potential to provide an improved system by making efficiency
savings. This has not yet been mapped fully, so the exact nature is at
this point unknown, and is a key action for the next stage working
group.

So we don't know whether the new system will be cost-effective either...

I'd want to see some numbers before commiting to this sort of change.

I hope those responsible for the councils money are present to give their assurances that they can deliver a cost improvement. (or do finance officers not have to go to council meetings...)


James

Offline kecl

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2008, 01:24:23 pm »
At a recent meeting, which was actually about prostitution it was asked if CCTV cameras could be used in Manchester and County Roads. It is being considered as it has apparently worked in other towns, although in some of the places it has been used by the pro’s as a form of protection for themselves, rather than a deterrent!

There is already one ‘official’ camera in the Broadgreen Area; it’s looking down Broad Street from Corporation Street and was put up following the petrol bomb attack, although I’m not sure why it’s still there because they have caught the perpetrators.

Anyway, I digress so back to the meeting and CCTV in the town centre; we were told by someone from the crime and Disorder Team that with regards to CCTV, Swindon is in an almost unique position in that it doesn’t have a dedicated control room that covers all the cameras in the town.  With a single control room it has been successful in Exeter for example, and Wootten Bassett also have one although volunteers man it. There is now an agreement between the Police, Fire Brigade and Council to establish a 24-hour manned control room, but it will cost around £300k.

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rob-magic

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2008, 03:07:30 pm »
Hmm, Still its funny how I can have my pushbike stolen from a bank when 'the cameras weren't working', have my old house broken into 'when the cameras weren't on' and have my garage burnt out and the cameras not see anything!

Offline Mart

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2008, 07:45:47 pm »
I, for one, am stunned to learn that we have a Crime and Disorder team, though, when I think about it, there obviously had to be a concerted and organised effort behind the astonishing increase in performance levels vis a vis Crime and Disorder. It's probably an eu requirement with a fine to be levied in 2010 if we don't hit our targets.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend them on their performance levels. I, though unaware of their Key Performance Indicators, am absolutely positive that they will have hit all of their targets.

Crime, reported, unreported, uncategorised, categorised, flavour of the month and even the sooo last year is, regardless of reporting stream  magnificently increased.

Disorder is also showing very significant improvement, I must concede that their performance in this area has undoubtedly been assisted by the extremely sensible review of drinking hours, this has enabled them to deliver a more or less constant stream of drunken twats to deliver the new Disorder targets.

Of course their master stroke is to toe the line on citizen surveillance targets, then, absolute genius this, not man the control rooms that may otherwise have exposed those slaving to deliver Crime and Disorder to the identification, and then, if the planets are aligned, actual arrest, followed by the admittedly remote chance of (whisper it quietly) arrest.

All hail these unsung heroes.
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Offline komadori

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2008, 11:55:40 pm »
With a single control room it has been successful in Exeter for example,

How do they measure success? I'd like someone to explain just what the benefit is. The report going to the cabinet refers several times to the current provision in Swindon town centre being a 'risk', but is rather brief on what the risks are or how a centralised control reduces them.
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rob-magic

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2008, 12:38:39 pm »
How do they measure success?

Probably by nabbing someone who kicked a can or dropped a cigarette butt.

Offline Mart

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Re: Surveillance doesn’t prevent criminal activity
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2008, 01:06:51 pm »
I think that Exeter council is one of the ones that expends huge amounts of manpower in fining people for inappropriate rubbish segregation.

As we know, everytime someone puts paper in a bin intended for glass a polar bear dies and is therefore a worthy line for a council to pursue, and it does of course rally people to the environmental cause, hearts and minds don't you know.

Someone ought to tell them polar bears do not yet have the vote, nor are there any current targets in force in the West Country for either their preservation or extermination.

If I am right I think I could proabaly write an accurate paragraph describing Exeter council without reference to any further material.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

 

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