I don't like CCTV in small Irish towns like mine - Political Quote

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

I don't like CCTV in small Irish towns like mine

I have concerns over the police use of CCTV in small towns like Westport (pop. 5,000) as I feel not only is the population too small to require such an expensive system but that as we are such a small town it is very likely that the those watching you will in fact know you personally thus breaching your privacy.

I am opposed to whole scale CCTV surveillance as I think it breaches my rights as a citizen to go about my business without being subjected to surveillance. I also believe that CCTV is used to justify less Gardai on the streets.

I don't believe that CCTV is either effective as a deterrent to crime or as a useful tool for crime solving. The number of cases it is used in is low and the number of convictions even lower.

I am not on my own on this one. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has concerns in this area also. According to the ICCL "a series of studies that seriously questions the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing crime. Certainly, CCTV does not seem to achieve anything that can't be achieved by common sense measures such as better street lighting or more effective police patrols in city-centres.

"In recent years, many politicians have suggested that extensive spending on camera schemes was a panacea to street crime. Now it is clear that this is not the case. What is also disturbing is that the impact of such schemes on the privacy rights of the public at large has been largely ignored."

You can read more about that here.

Accrding to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, staff must be made aware that CCTV is in place and what the purpose of the cameras are. If staff are told that the cameras are there to protect staff against violent customers that’s the only thing they can be used for.

CCTV cameras can’t be used for monitoring attendance at work or to see whether staff are sitting at their desk all day long.

For more information on this read this article

There is also an interesting blog in the UK on this subject and the issues involved here.

So the issue is not as black and white as some people claim and I hope that after reading this post you might see my concerns or at least have questions over such systems. CCTV is not benign, it does affect your rights. Think about it before you support it in your town or area.

(I do however accept that it is necessary in areas like O'Connell St and high crime areas but this should be the exception not the norm)

Don't let them give you the" eye in the sky", demand more Gardai on your streets instead.

Note: we don't have CCTV in Westport..........yet!!

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