Charles Farrier represents No CCTV.
The prospect of CCTV in tower blocks reared its ugly head in the media last week after Harriet Harman raised the issue at Prime Minister's Question Time.
Back in 2009 No CCTV commented on proposals to put CCTV in several tower blocks in Oxford following a trial of cameras in one block, 'Foresters Tower' in 2008.
We sent the Oxford Mail a 250 word piece (as requested) for their 'The Issue' column, published in October 2009: somehow when it hit the press the key section had been removed. Here's my point on this important issue once again (with the removed text in bold).
CCTV in tower blocks is an invasion of privacy and a waste of taxpayers money. Study after study has shown that surveillance cameras are not effective in the fight against crime despite the hype that council staff and police constantly use to justify the expansion of CCTV. Privacy is not about hiding bad things from the police or other authorities, it is part of what defines life in a free country.
It has been reported that some residents want cameras in their tower block but in fact what they understandably want is a solution to the problems in their environment, and they're only being offered CCTV they take what they think will help. Councillors like CCTV because they think that it shows they are doing something and is therefore a vote winner.
The CCTV pilot in the Foresters Tower block in 2007/8 shows that the council is exaggerating the problem and that in reality CCTV had little impact – only a minority of the 28 residents surveyed who said that incidents of antisocial behaviour had gone down after the cameras were installed.
Filming people in and around their own homes is an incredible escalation of surveillance – it makes it possible to record when residents enter or leave their own homes and is tantamount to a council run control order. We were brought up believing “an Englishman's home is his castle” but increasingly it is becoming accepted as fair game in an out of control surveillance state.