CCTV; Witness for the Prosecution?
The UK is the most CCTV aware state in the world. A British Security Industry Authority report in 2013 claimed that there were 4.9 million CCTV cameras in use in the country. That's 1 camera for every 14 people.
Or to put it another way, we have 1% of the world's population and 20% of the world's surveillance cameras.
|Big Brother may well be watching you.|
And things aren't any easier since 2013. Just last January the surveillance commissioner, Tony Porter, warned of the increasing use of body worn surveillance equipment as a procedure that risked changing the "psyche of the community" by reducing individuals to a trackable number in a database.
Personal injury lawyers have long been used to surveillance of their clients by investigators employed by the insurers to check that the claim is genuine and to arguing that the evidence does or does not show the degree of injury. Private and public CCTV systems add another layer to that evidence.
CCTV evidence, if obtained quickly enough, can show the incident and/or degree of injury but only if requested early enough. Many organisations wipe their coverage within 4 weeks. If the client hasn't asked for the footage, and been able to specify time and date quickly enough, then any useful evidence may be lost. And since requesting the information from a public building needs to be done in line with the 1988 Data Protection Act and involves a small fee, it very often isn't the first thing on an injured person's mind.
CCTV is here to stay, and expanding. What we do with the resulting evidence will need careful consideration if people's liberties are to be protected.