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Civil liberties: not the only issue

Over the past few weeks there has been a growing number of news stories expressing outrage at the country’s dependency on the most divisive electrical product of them all: the CCTV camera. Publicans have fumed at being forced to install systems in their property and the House of Lords last month issued a report saying that the rise of this equipment poses a threat to our freedom. But are the real problems being addressed and what are the positives for installers..?

Nick Gibson, a prospective landlord for The Draper’s Arms in Islington, North London, was “spitting teeth” after being told that his application will only be granted on the basis that he installs a CCTV system. The police have also told Gibson that he will be required to hand over recordings on request of drinkers that frequent his pub.

It’s easy to get caught up in the debate as to whether CCTV systems should worry any law-abiding citizen or in fact their mere presence is an infringement on everybody’s civil rights. The latter view is one held by a group of peers who believe the spiralling number of systems run by local authorities is a potential infringement of our right to privacy.

But from a technical perspective, there is still a worrying lack of knowledge held by the average member of the public regarding what legal protection they can expect when installing a CCTV system in their home or business. The truth is that most people will have nowhere near enough money to spend on equipment capable of producing pictures of sufficient quality for use as court evidence.

And even if the images are of broadcast quality (which they pretty much need to be), are people really in full understanding of the measures that need to be in place to prove that no tampering of the images has taken place? Was adequate signage in place?

What this boils down to is the need to make potential customers completely aware that their expectations may be significantly greater than their budgets, so the most likely benefit of CCTV for anyone not capable of a local authority-sized wedge of cash is as a deterrent. But as long as people are aware, that’s fine.

The overwhelming positive aspect of all this for businesses involved in CCTV manufacture and installation is that the market still seems to be on an upward trend. As the national news media continues to promote fear of crime in order to keep their sales from dropping, industries such as security will benefit. So here’s to every gloomy cloud having a silver lining!

Enjoy the newsletter,

Richard Scott

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