It’s an astonishing statistic that is sure to send chills down the spines of freedom campaigners.
In Big Brother Britain there is an incredible one CCTV camera for every 32 citizens, a study has revealed.
The revelation that 1.85 million cameras are watching our every move confirms the shocking extent of surveillance in 21st century Britain.
Coming a day after it emerged tiny drones could be used to spy on Britons, the CCTV study is sure to add fuel to the debate that we have become a Big Brother state.
The research involved police community support officers counting every camera in Cheshire and extrapolating the results nationwide to provide a reliable estimate of the level of CCTV surveillance in the UK.
Officers counted 12,333 cameras in the area, according to a study published in CCTV Image magazine, the majority of which were inside premises, rather than facing public street.
The research also found that most CCTV cameras in the UK are likely to be privately owned, with only 504 of Cheshire’s cameras run by public bodies.
After the Cheshire results were extrapolated nationwide, taking into account urban and rural areas and transport networks, the number of cameras was adjudged to be 1,853,681 – enough for one camera for every 32 citizens in the UK.Despite the proliferation of CCTV cameras, police admit that just one crime is solved for every 1,000 cameras.
Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard, the lead on CCTV for the Association of Chief Police Officers said the latest numbers, based on a map of CCTV systems in Cheshire, were intended to ‘inject more rigorous figures into the debate’ over Britain as a surveillance state.
A widely quoted estimate of 4.2 million cameras in the UK was based on a 1.5km road in a busy shopping district and extrapolated out for the entire UK, he explained.
And the previous estimate that the ‘average Briton is caught on security cameras some 300 times a day was based on a fictional tour of CCTV hot-spots.
However, he admitted: ‘The figure of 1.85m is still a significant number of CCTV cameras.
‘I’m not saying for a minute that this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of cameras.’
Mr Gerrard confirmed he was surprised to learn of other research which suggested the London underground network houses as many as 11,000 cameras.
Writing in CCTV Image, Mr Gerrard added: ‘Eight years after the 4.2 million figure was first published, we now have research that indicates that the figure is less than half this guesstimate.
‘We also know that unless you make a particular point of visiting as many CCTV hotspot areas as you can, you are unlikely to be captured on CCTV 300 times a day.’
He admitted the latest figures were still estimates, but said they showed the number of CCTV cameras in the UK to be around 1.85 million.
‘And the real figure for the number of times the average person is likely to be ‘caught’ on CCTV in a day is less than 70 – and most of these will be at your workplace or fleeting glimpses by cameras located in shops’.
However, Isabella Sankey, director of policy at the campaign group Liberty, said the figures would do little to allay concerns about surveillance in Britain.
‘Who cares if there is one camera or 10 on their street if that one camera is pointing into your living room?’ she asked the Guardian.
‘Concerns about CCTV are not a simple numbers game; what’s required is proper legal regulation and proportionate use.’