CCTV surveillance cameras are in the number of 4 million to 6 million in the UK, according to a report from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).
‘The Picture Is Not Clear’ is the name of the report, that was originally published in 2013. It estimates the number of cameras in over 200 sectors of the economy, ranging from schools to sewage works.
The BSIA used a complex method to determine high, low and medium figures for each sector. They then added the number together to produce estimates in each category. The low estimate is 4 million cameras, the medium estimate is 4.9 million and the high estimate is nearly 6 million. Importantly, they counted ALL CCTV surveillance cameras, regardless of whether they face the public or not. Previous studies have produced figures ranging from 1.85 million to 4.2 million which are far less than this report shows.
The BSIA claims this study represents the most comprehensive report on the number of CCTV cameras used in the UK. There is no single reliable source of data so no-one will ever truly know the exact figure. However, the middle of the BSIA’s range suggests that there are around 5 million cameras. A key finding of the research is that the proportion of cameras controlled by local government is around 1 in 70. The government’s current regulation will initially cover only a tiny proportion of CCTV systems.
Private companies fund most of the nation’s CCTV because it offers the best return on investment. These same companies provide the majority of footage for the police. Effective CCTV schemes are an invaluable source of crime detection and evidence for the Police. For example, in 2009, 95 percent of Scotland Yard murder cases used CCTV footage as evidence.
Pauline Norstrom, vice chair of the BSIA’s CCTV section, said, “There is a popular misconception that the camera population in the UK is owned by the Government. The BSIA statistics set the record straight once and for all. It is private businesses who own the material camera population, not the Government. Day to day, these cameras are not available to the Government and law enforcement agencies, they are busy working to protect their owner’s premises.
“It is only when a major crime occurs, that the Police ask business owners if they have captured any footage of criminals passing through the private cameras field of view. Without the help of businesses investing in their privately-owned systems, the Police would only have access to the one publically-owned camera per 1,000 head of population.”
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