It would appear that there is no tier of Australian government that is not intent on recording as much as possible about the lives and activities of its constituents.
On this occasion it is Clarence Valley Council, intent on encouraging the installation of CCTV cameras in the predominately small business districts scattered along the length of the river, and being this particular council, once again not asking residents using these streets whether or not they wish to shop, pay their bills or have a coffee under the gaze of one or more 27/7 street spies.
The Daily Examiner 19 December 2012:
An innovative program funded by Clarence Valley Council will provide local businesses with financial support to install CCTV.
The program is focused on addressing crimes, including vandalism, graffiti and break and enter, throughout the Valley.
"While we must keep in mind that our levels of these crimes are relatively low in comparison with other areas, there are some concerning incidents of crime happening locally which the business community and council are rightly concerned about." said the Mayor, Richie Williamson.
"This program will work hand in hand with other council and community strategies that target crime."
The program was developed after a series of consultations with NSW Police and the local business community…
So with Clarence Valley Council intent on encouraging private business to intrude on our everyday lives, is there likely to be any real and lasting benefit from the Big Brother effect?
Though billions of dollars are being spent world wide on CCTV systems, there is actually little evidence as yet of the success of CCTV to combat or deter crime or its cost effectiveness in doing so..
The evidence that the benefits of CCTV will fade after a period of time are backed up by a number of studies. [Townsville City Council paper 2001]
CCTV was found to have no significant impact on total offences, total offences against property (including other theft (excluding unlawful
entry), unlawful entry, other property damage, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and handling stolen goods) and total other offences (including drug offences, liquor (excluding drunkenness)) occurring in Surfers Paradise. Findings from Broadbeach indicated that CCTV had no impact on total offences or total offences against property (including other theft (excluding unlawful entry) and other property damage). [Bond University Humanities & Social Sciences papers 2006]
The American studies that met the criteria for the meta-analysis generally showed worse outcomes that those in the UK, showing an undesirable or null effect on crime….
Regarding violent crime, there appeared to be no statistically significant change in the level of crime anywhere in the 500 foot range around the cameras. [American Civil Liberties Union]
But before we rush to put all of Melbourne under surveillance, we should heed the example of Britain, which, in the past 20 years has spent billions of dollars on more than a million CCTV cameras across its cities, yet still has one of the highest crime rates in Europe.
Indeed, four years ago the policeman in charge of monitoring London's massive CCTV network described it as "an utter fiasco" that was responsible for solving only 3 per cent of crimes.
Detective Chief Insp Mick Neville said that police often avoided trawling through CCTV images "because it's hard work" and he believed criminals had no fear of CCTV.
The marginal effectiveness of CCTV in preventing crime has been well known for at least a decade. In 2002 a British Home Office review of studies into the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing crime found the overall reduction in crime in areas with CCTV was only 4 per cent. Half the studies examined showed CCTV had no effect on crime at all, and all showed it had no effect on violent crime. [The Herald Sun 28 September 2012]
The deputy director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology, Garner Clancey, says it is ''absolutely'' possible to move around the city without being caught on camera but most trips will be captured dozens if not hundreds of times.
However, there are questions over whether the huge costs to councils and the impositions on citizens' privacy are justified in an era when crime rates are falling.
''Crimes like motor vehicle theft and burglaries are falling,'' he said. ''Do we then say there's a point where cameras aren't cost-effective so we turn them off?
''Some of the crimes that have been increasing are around domestic violence where technologies like this will never have any impact so it's a difficult balancing act.'' [The Sydney Morning Herald 26 October 2012]
* Photograph found at Google Images