I received an interesting answer to a Parliamentary Question back from the Home Office on Friday questioning the wisdom of the Government's approach on closed circuit TV cameras. According to the new wisdom CCTV cameras should be concentrated on car park crime and vehicle crime rather than more and more cameras simply for the sake of it. The text was as follows:
"The most recent and most robust assessment of the international evidence on the impact of CCTV was a 2008 systematic review published by the Campbell Crime and Justice Group. The review was part funded by the Home Office. The review found that CCTV has a modest but statistically significant crime reduction effect; is most effective in reducing crime in car parks; is most effective when targeted at vehicle crimes (largely a function of the successful car park schemes); and is more effective in reducing crime in the UK than in other countries. The review concludes that CCTV is an effective crime prevention measure in public spaces, but, in contrast to its current broad application, should focus only on the specific targets against which it is shown to be most effective."
It seems to question the Government's previous approach based on the 'broad application' that the Home Office now seems to be criticising. CCTV does have an important use in detecting and prosecuting crime, but as the Government themselves now appear to be admitting, the policy hasn't been thought through on either effectiveness or value for money grounds. Not bad after around £500 milion of public expenditure.