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Tough on Crime,Tough on Civil Liberties: Some Negative Aspects of Britain's Wholesale Adoption of CCTV Surveillance During the 1990s

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This paper begins by charting the remarkable rate of growth of public space closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance in Britain during the 1990s, and proceeds to discuss the reasons for that growth. During the course of this discussion, a diverse range of problems associated with the expansion and use of CCTV in public places is identified. Thereafter, the paper concentrates on issues relevant to civil liberties.It considers the relationship between CCTV,fear of crime and concern for civil liberties by examining the findings of British public attitudes surveys which have focused on public space CCTV.Public concerns regarding the implications of CCTV for civil liberties which are common to those surveys are identified. The paper then examines the available evidence relating to those concerns. It is contended that the evidence uncovered and discussed in this paper substantiates the public's concerns regarding CCTV's threat to civil liberties. The paper concludes by calling for the statutory regulation of public space CCTV systems, on the ground that some of the uses to which they and their videotape evidence are being put infringe the civil liberties of many individuals and in particular, of members of certain social and minority groups.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1998-07-01

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