We’re watching you… but who are we?

Following the riots last month, the police were able to draw on CCTV recordings to identify and arrest many of the rioters.  In the wake of this, various articles appeared arguing that the success of the police in using such surveillance techniques had destroyed or silenced those who complained about the ‘surveillance society’.  I fail to see the logic of this argument.  I fully support the use of CCTV by the police for the purpose of tackling illegal behaviour, in the same way that I support them having access to other data where it is necessary to detect or prosecute criminal behaviour.  However, the fact that the police should, under stipulated conditions, have access to CCTV recordings to combat crime does not mean that anyone else should enjoy the same access!   There need to be clear protocols, or even legislation, governing who has access and in what circumstances.  Or have I missed something?


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to We’re watching you… but who are we?

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    Playing off the title of your post — you made my list of the one hundred most watchable people in the world for the second post 9/11 decade quite some time ago. I do have readers beyond my decaying blog although how many is hard to say ( I have about 1,100 facebook friends on two accounts but many are groups including large ones). I I have not yet put out my final list of the ten most watchable but I will say two things there is a tie for tenth and so it has eleven actual people on the list and you are not ranked in that last spot but are somewhat above it and are on my list. That is my first leak and also you are not in the topmost part of the group. Here is the link to my disastrous bolg. The new list of the final ten is due out before midnight September 11, 2011 and is almost finished as a post — but not quite:


    • Frank W. Summers III says:

      Here is that other link:

      My series is finished after a year. It is not the most rewarding or pleasant project I have ever undertaken but I am glad to have finished it, having said I would.

      • ladytizzy says:

        Fascinating! I do hope Lord Norton appreciates his position between Britney Spears and the Duchess of Cambridge. I am curious, though. Do you feel able to reveal whether he received any debits and credits at the ‘First Cut’ stage, namely:

        6. Candidates were given debits for the likelihood of becoming dead or less relevant right away, in a year or two or before September 2021.
        7. Candidates were given a bonus if I thought they were under-reported or badly reported in key respects in larger media.

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lady Tizzy,
        Thank you for your interest. I have already broken most of my rules in this post. Although I am the sole arbiter of all this I do have limits as to what I will divulge, but I will make the process murkier here and answer your question. The debits varied as did the credits. So that perhaps there were four potential numbers on each entry to recognize the degree to which the principle applied. PLNBoL received the smallest sized credit possible because of lack of mainstream US coverage and because Americans outside the academy make up a sizable portion of my intended readership. As for debits I will not answer your question directly. But even if he loses all fights current and the HoL is abolished, the parliamentary form of government is eroded and countless other causes fail this does less to erode his significance than it would a Parliamentarian who was not also a scholar. The question of death was considered in every case but the system was not so fine tuned that everyone got a debit with perhaps Zuckerberg getting the least debit. The question of life-expectancy over ten years, debilitating strokes and PLNBoL’ habits and appearance were considered as to whether he should recieve the smallest used debit or not — I will not disclose what I decided. This whole line is a bit to indiscreet really. I should not really have discussed the first standard probably,
        I would also say that I make no promises to position him between Ms. Spears and Her Royal Highness in any other sense. If you misunderstood this then I am afraid despite best efforts I have inflated your view of my resources entirely out of proportion.

  2. Croft says:

    The number of CCTV Cs is vast – in the millions. (depending on how you define cctv) The number of cameras utilised in the riots is a minuscule percentage of those and being some of the busiest commercial/residential areas in the country are not in and of themselves are useful guide to the value of cctv outside of such particular areas. Moreover the reliance of the police on the cameras and thereby to allow them not to intervene at the time of the riots was part of the problem. Consequently violence and crime committed continues when the police don’t intervene but more crucially the hard core were hooded at all times and therefore effectively have a free pass because they cannot be identified afterwards.

    • Frank W. Summers III says:

      I gather from a post on LOTB that you have been ill. I am gld to see you feel well enough to comment here….

    • Lord Norton says:

      Croft: Indeed, we arguably place too much reliance on CCTV, not least for the reasons you give, and it cannot bear the weight of the expectations. Calculating the number of CCTV cameras is highly problematic – no one knows for certain (which possibly tells you all you need to know about the lack of regulation) – but from my observation the number is certainly not decreasing. I now find myself looking in lifts and train carriages to see where the cameras are.

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