From London’s Daily Telegraph: According to recent studies, Britain has 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people in the country – which amounts to 20 per cent of the global camera total. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.
The latest gadget to help police British streets is the talking camera. The big brothers watching the goings on can say, “You there, yes you wearing the red shirt: go back and pick up that Snickers wrapper.” You can read the whole story here.
I personally find the whole thing creepy, but maybe that’s because at heart I’m still a good ole American boy and feel that even if I’m not doing anything wrong, I value my personal freedom and don’t want some policeman looking over my shoulder.
But maybe I’m wrong, and I can think of applications within church life. Cameras in every church hooked up to Vatican Central: “Now Father, you know liturgical dancers aren’t allowed, and what are you doing using glass chalices, and could we please get rid of those felt banners?”
Yep… I’ve been told, “never look up” to avoid my face being snapped via satellite…Paranoid? Possibly not, given the way the thought police are progressing this side of the pond!
I was very uncomfortable in my last visit to London and it took me a while to figure out why, and it was the cameras.The Samizdata blog routinely skewers modern British nanny statism from a libertarian perspective, which I don’t share entirely, but I enjoy the skewering nonetheless.
Over the course of the last decade I have noticed more and more cameras as I travel to London. The strange thing is… I most certainly don’t feel any safer there than I did the first time I visited. It’s actually kind of creepy.The reality is that even though I grew up in Chicago, and went to school in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city… it wasn’t until I went to London that I was the victim of street crime (twice!).No matter how many cameras they put up, it isn’t going to resolve the very real breakdown of the British society. All it’s going to do is document it.
As the person responsible for 20 of the 4.2m – in and around Ely Cathedral – I can but report a significant reduction in the previously rather alarming level of petty crime in the building. That said, I have no possible way of knowing what such crime levels would have been had the cameras not been installed.Living as I do ‘twixt the Cathedral and Ely High Street, I have a local authority camera right outside my first floor living room window. As it scans up and down the street it blacks out as my window comes into shot – or at least it did when I was given a demonstration a couple of years ago.PS (unrelated): Fr Dwight, greetings from Dom Timothy Bavin OSB.