The English are a people under constant surveillance. In London it is next to impossible to hide from the CCTV cameras, located in every corner watching ordinary peoples’ lives. They seem to live by the idea that if you have not done anything wrong, you got nothing to hide. Others say that the people have nothing to be afraid of, since the system is clearly not working; a statement which has actually been close to correct. Until now.
In an article from 2008, the British newspaper The Guardian stated that only 3% of all crimes solved, were so because of the CCTV cameras. This was despite the fact that the UK has the most surveillance cameras in Europe. Billions of pounds spent on new technology and CCTV did not seem to give any result in the end. Bristol based street artist Banksy made this quite clear that same year, when he made a gigantic piece of illegal artwork picturing a girl writing “ONE NATION UNDER CCTV”, directly in the sight of one of these cameras. Still the UK kept spending money on surveillance technology, and the majority of the population kept silent about it. Maybe, after being watched by the government for long enough, you stop even noticing.
Perhaps only solving 3% of crime due to the CCTV cameras might not be a bad thing after all. Maybe the whole point of surveillance is to act as fear mongering. The cameras are hanging there, staring at you like faceless heads pronouncing the words “Don’t you dare commit crime”. This is a method proved to be very effective, not least in the DDR which, just like the UK, was a country very fond of controlling their own population. The only big difference is that the DDR at least tried to be discreet about it, while the British government say it is necessary to defeat crime and, of course, the war on terror.
The war on terror was created as a reason to do whatever you want without people questioning. Ever since 9/11 it has been working with only minor problems. Just shout “Terror!” and nobody will even notice that GCHQ (the British equivalent to the American NSA) hacked a Belgian telecom firm. People did care though, which proves that the excuse of “war on terror” might have been somewhat overused. GCHQ might need to stick to hacking British telecom firms in the future. Hopefully they will not mind.
What to do about CCTV proving to be ineffective? Like said earlier, there has not been a way to make this system work effectively until now. The solution is called Facewatch and allows you as an ordinary person to take part of exclusive CCTV footage of people close to you suspected of low level crime, such as shoplifting, personal theft and vandalism. This is also something that businesses can take advantage of. Facewatch is a registered trademark and has proved to be extremely effective. Recently they launched a mobile application, enabling you to identify individuals suspected of crime in your area. This exists even though every individual is presumed innocent before proven guilty. Fighting low-level crime appears to be more important than protecting civil rights. As Facewatch’s slogan says: Together we will beat crime.
Fighting low-level crime appears to be more important than protecting civil rights
The UK is actually building a society where people will start suspecting each other and every one is being watched. They try to beat crime rather than prevent it from happening. They put everyone under constant surveillance instead of tackling the root cause; People who are desperate and unemployed, rebelling against this society of mass surveillance. What if all that money spent on developing these surveillance systems would have gone to actually making more jobs? Then they probably would never have had this big a problem with crime in the first place. What if they tried to create a society where people did not need to be under constant control, and where there were no reason for ordinary people to suspect one another? The UK was not in need of this much surveillance; they put themselves in that position. They make their own threats, and instead of doing anything about it they keep on digging deeper into the hole they made for themselves.
To see the Facewatch video go to: http://vimeo.com/39098448
Nadja Prigorowsky | 14 May
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