8.4 Surveillance and CCTV
8.4.1 Growth of CCTV. Across the developed countries of the world today surveillance is part of everyday life and this has led to the acknowledgement that the UK is part of a surveillance society. The UK has experienced a massive growth in CCTV since the 1980s and this was initially based on the assumption that CCTV was a panacea for crime and disorder. The discussion below explores some of the key debates that have emerged regarding the growth of CCTV and then moves onto explore the effectiveness of CCTV as a tool to address crime and disorder, and the impact of CCTV on fear of crime. Central Government instigated the growth of CCTV in the UK by making funding available for local areas to bid for CCTV capital grants.
Clearly the Government viewed CCTV as an effective means of protecting the public and during the 1990s 78 percent of the Home Office crime prevention budget was spent on implementing CCTV and a further 500 million of public money was spent on CCTV between 2000 and 2006. The explosion of CCTV in the UK was not informed by an evidence-based approach that provided a comprehensive basis to inform where and how CCTV should be implemented. The ad hoc and unregulated nature of CCTV growth has produced a range of public CCTV systems that have different roles and levels of effectiveness. Often partnerships bidding for CCTV funding did not have a clear idea of local crime and disorder problems or how CCTV would work to combat the problems. Many partnerships viewed CCTV as a desirable improvement to any area and were under pressure from communities to implement CCTV.
Areas may have been motivated to implement CCTV due to the proliferation of other local areas gaining CCTV and the anticipation that crime may be displaced from areas under CCTV surveillance to their local area. Therefore partnerships are drawn to CCTV as a popular strategy with universal appeal but there is little evidence that CCTV was identified through a rational approach that matched local needs to CCTV. Public consultation tends to indicate low-level disorder as problematic and this can ‘heighten and legitimise public pressure for CCTV implementation’ as local communities consistently request CCTV. The public support of CCTV also leads elected members to favour it as it acts as a public demonstration that crime is being tackled and communities are being listened to. The widespread support of CCTV across the different groups discussed above is not based on robust evaluation and implementing CCTV is an easy win for practitioners because, even if reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour are not achieved, they are seen to be doing something.
CCTV is highly visible unlike other offender centred approaches and can present the media with positive stories that are reinforced through the use of recorded images from the CCTV. The increase in CCTV surveillance across the UK led to academic debate about the impact of surveillance and one of the key themes that has been consistently revisited through the literature has been the Panopticon.
Khashoggi case: CCTV disappears from Saudi consulate in Turkey
Security camera footage was removed from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkish staff were abruptly told to take a holiday on the day the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared while inside the building, Turkish authorities have claimed. A week after Khashoggi vanished in the heart of Turkey’s biggest city, details of the investigation into his disappearance continued to point towards Riyadh having ordered Khashoggi’s seizure. While living in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi was told to stop writing or posting on Twitter, where he has more than 1.6 million followers. Khashoggi previously had close links with the Saudi royal family, including having served as a media aide to Prince Turki al-Faisal, when the latter was director general of the Saudi intelligence agency. He is also a former editor of the Saudi newspaper al-Watan and had worked with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of the first Saudi king who was detained last year as part of what the authorities said was an anti-corruption campaign.
Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP. Investigators believe the squad responsible for his disappearance from the Saudi consulate spent several hours at the nearby consul general’s house before leaving for the airport in a convoy of six cars, one of which is thought to have carried the missing dissident or his body. Details of the planes used to fly 15 Saudi officials from Riyadh to Istanbul have also been confirmed. Two corporate jets rented from a company frequently used by the Saudi government arrived in Istanbul on 2 October and left separately the same evening. A Turkish police team entered the consulate building on Tuesday after being given access by Saudi officials.
Despite a circumstantial case being established that blames Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s abduction, there were signs that Turkish officials were unwilling to further incriminate the kingdom, with which Turkey has lucrative trade ties and attempts to maintain a delicate regional relationship. The disappearance of the acclaimed columnist and senior adviser to previous Saudi regimes has rocked Washington, where he had been based for the past year as a columnist for the Washington Post, and struck fear through establishment circles in Riyadh, where the 59-year-old had been a popular figure. US officials told the Guardian that Turkey had earlier put the evidence it had gathered directly to Saudi officials and had authorised a series of state-sanctioned leaks intended to pressure Riyadh when those officials had refused to respond.