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Rob Ratcliff was the Content and Community Manager of IFSEC Global.com. He is a self-confessed everyman in the world of security and fire, keen to learn from the global community of experts who have been a part of IFSEC for 40 years now.
June 11, 2013


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Infographic: Survey Reveals Support for Surveillance

A new survey commissioned by Siemens’ Security Products division has revealed that 65 percent of surveyed people in the UK do not think that widespread use of CCTV cameras infringes on civil liberties.

In a survey carried out by YouGov between February and March 2013, 81 percent of survey takers in the UK also said that CCTV cameras are useful in reducing crime and providing evidence to police.

YouGov spoke to 6,110 adults across Europe, made up of 2,059 people in the UK, 1,006 in France, 1,003 in Germany, 1,004 in Spain, and 1,008 in Sweden.

Residents of Spain were by far in a way the least supportive of the widespread use of cameras, with 64 percent saying that they did believe that the widespread use of video surveillance infringed their civil rights. However, they were the most supportive of the statement that cameras were useful in reducing crime.

Eighty-nine percent of people surveyed in Spain agreed with the statement that “CCTV cameras are useful in reducing crime and providing evidence to the Police,” followed by Sweden (88 percent), France (83 percent), the UK (81 percent), and Germany (77 percent).

The results to the statement that the widespread use of cameras infringes on civil liberties, meanwhile, had a much more varied response, with Spain leading the opposition at 64 percent, followed by Germany (77 percent), France (38 percent), and the UK and Sweden at 27 percent.

Click here to view Figure 1.

The results seem to show that the overwhelming majority of people recognize that video surveillance is a useful tool that can reduce crime, but the actual support for its use is much more varied.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, across all of the countries surveyed, younger people were generally more concerned with the impact on their civil liberties in regards to video surveillance cameras.

Siemens Security Products’ CEO, Peter Hawksworth, explained why they commissioned the survey:

The use of CCTV elicits strong feelings, either for or against, and Siemens has concluded that most of the figures quoted and statements made are based on the type of conjecture and misinformation that suits a particular argument. Therefore, we wanted to find out what the public really thinks about its ability to reduce crime and whether it infringes upon civil liberties.

Hawksworth continued to say how we are often led to believe that there is a relatively even split between those for and against the use of video surveillance equipment, but that these results show that the issue is more complex than that:

The key for those deploying it [CCTV] is to do so sensibly and have a justifiable reason for implementation, something that governments across Europe will hopefully provide guidance on. This will mean that advancements in technology can continue to protect people and property, reduce crime and win over those who remain sceptical about its benefits.

The recent publication of the CCTV Code of Practice is a good example of such Government guidance, but it only applies to public surveillance equipment.

What do you think of the figures? Does this underline the general recognition that surveillance can make a positive change to crime, or that Europe is as fragmented as ever when it comes to opinions on civil liberties?

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June 18, 2013 3:53 pm

I have nothing against CCTVs or surveillance, provided it’s not in excess. Too much of a good thing will make it bad, right? I agree with that adage. I think CCTVs are a deterrent and the footage they capture really come in useful during investigations or when events have to be studied or analyzed.

June 24, 2013 1:23 am
Reply to  ITs_Hazel

I think CCTVs are a deterrent and the footage they capture really come in useful during investigations or when events have to be studied or analyzed.
, I agree with you. I think many people dont have problem with CCTV since it helps to reduce the crime. But i think we should make sure that the footage captured on CCTV is not mis-used. I think stric law should be made to make sure that CCTV footage is just used incase of crime investigation.

June 28, 2013 8:56 am
Reply to  ITs_Hazel

@ ITs_Hazel
I agree with you that CCTV footage can be invaluable for crime investigation. There have been many crimes solved thanks to footage caught by cameras that did not even belong to parties involved in the crime itself. Another good thing is that in addition to helping to identify guilty parties when a crime has been committed, CCTV footage can also help to prove someone’s innocence if they have been wrongly accused.

July 2, 2013 7:44 am
Reply to  SunitaT

True. I think CCTV could use some regulation and standardization, if only to protect the identities of the innocent parties. Such footage should definitely not be misused because it just hurts the entire system, in a sense.