Professor Martin Gill of Leicester University asked 101 offenders (probably students forced to shoplift and burgle in order to pay of their student debt) to rate 13 different crime prevention methods in order of effectiveness. SmartWater - a liquid substance which can be used to invisibly mark both property and thieves came out on top. Bars on windows, locks and police patrols were all rated more highly than CCTV, which came sixth.
Image from Schnews - used without permission (so please click the link and go and have a look at their site - believe me, you won't regret it).
Some sources claim there are around 4.2 million public cameras (ie; not those in shops, private homes etc.) in the UK, with half a million in London alone - roughly one for every 14 people. Yet there is very little evidence of their being an effective crime-fighting tool - according to research carried out by Justin Davenport, writing for the London Evening Standard says that 80% of crimes go unsolved and that "police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any." In fact, of the five London boroughs with the most cameras, four have below average solved crimes. Even the Metropolitan Police admit that, in 2008, just one crime per 1,000 cameras was solved.
Liberal Democrat policing spokeswoman Dee Doocey says that her party estimates 10,000 CCTV cameras in London "have cost the taxpayer in the region of £200 million in the last 10 years." Sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it? Could it not have been better spent on new police officers, seeing as how they're known to be a very effective method in both preventing and solving crimes?
The basic rate of pay for a Metropolitan officer is £22,104 per annum during the 31 week training period, then £24,675 per annum when initial training is complete; so we can assume that a copper costs £23,142 for the first year and £24,675 each year thereafter - £245,217 for ten years. Therefore, £200 million would pay for just 815.6 coppers...and 0.6 of a copper is no use to anyone.
That's why CCTV is such good value, you see. It might be fairly useless as far as crime prevention/detection/solving goes, but the public are so worried about crime they're willing to vote for any party which promises to be tough on criminals. All those CCTV cameras are highly noticeable - especially now that the civil liberties people have unintentionally helped the cause by drawing attention to them - so the Government get to look as though they're doing something while in actual fact they're sitting back and doing what they always do - a combination of worrying about how they can get enough votes to win General Elections instead of trying to improves the lives of British people and bugger all.