Is Cctv Surveillance Helping to Reduce Crime or Is It Affecting the People’s Privacy in Public Spaces?

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Topic: Is CCTV surveillance helping to reduce crime or is it affecting the people’s privacy in public spaces?


What does privacy means? “Privacy can be defined as ‘that area of a man’s life which, in any given circumstances, a reasonable man with an understanding of the legitimate needs of the community would think it wrong to invade” (Aquilina, 2010). For example, when people walk on street or play in parks, shop in a public market place, study or talk on phone in public library, they want it to be free in doing all this. However, if the people find them being monitored on CCTV cameras, they feel it uncomfortable to stay in that environment anymore. On one hand, the government is taking advantage of this new technology called the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) to prevent crime, alerting of police at an early stage to stop dangerous situations escalating, telling the people that they are being observed, etc. On the other hand, it is affecting the people’s privacy by keeping a watch on them & monitoring their activities. In this paper I ’am going to argue on how government is taking undue advantage of CCTV surveillance by keeping a watch on people’s activity rather than using it more towards reducing the crime rate of the country.

Firstly, CCTV surveillance systems usually consist of cameras with monitors and video recorders. The cameras may be fixed or they may literally have a roaming eye. It was said that CCTV surveillances was one of the best inventions that were developed to help the world to reduce the crime rate but, “A report released by NARCO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) states that CCTVs result in a 5% reduction in crime whereas better street lighting results in a 20% reduction in crime. The effect that CCTVs appears to have on crime usually ranges anywhere from nil to between 3% and 6%” (Greenhalgh, 2003). By this statement the CCTV systems have clearly claimed that they are ready to protect the nation either from a major group of terrorists or from happening illegal drug deals or from small thieves. Initially, when the CCTV surveillance system was bought in use, it was firstly installed in private companies like in banks and at high-security areas. “But when the government found that it was helping the private organizations by keeping them safe & secure, then the government around the world took a decision to install the CCTV surveillance systems almost at all public places like malls, streets, stadiums, railway stations, trains, buses, taxis, transport interchanges and transport related car parks” (Bannister, 1996). Due to which many people feel that this is affecting their privacy. It is almost impossible to walk through public space without being photographed or video recorded by cameras. Every motion that people take is thoroughly recorded to be transfer to the control centre.

Secondly, the most common objection in using CCTV is the monitoring of public life is that this type of surveillance constitutes a violation of people’s right to privacy. “For an individual the rights of privacy are very important, which includes the right to know that why his information is being collected, for what purpose, how the information will be displayed, for how long the information will be in use and rights to access his information with his permission” (Privacy and CCTV - A guide to the privacy act for businesses, agencies and organisations, 2009). If these rights get violated then the information could be used in a wrong way like creating fake identity to carry out any violent act, which could result in a serious criminal activity. Not only the individual may face a big problem dealing with it, but also he will feel insecure to live in the country anymore, perhaps he’ll lose trust on the government. Similarly, crimes involving drugs and alcohol, and actions by professional criminals are not prevented by the cameras. This has made...
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