The first proposals to install mobile CCTV cameras were made to the city council as early as March 2003. A number of reports and assessments were drafted about the number of cameras, their type and the overall cost of the project. Finally it was decided that two (2) Radio Wave cameras will be purchased at the total cost of more than 100.000 pounds.
At the same time the idea that Mill Road needs to have cameras installed was also floated. A council report (by Head of Property & Building Services) describes the implications and costs of such a scheme. Strangely it admits that "violent crime offenses are not likely to be affected by CCTV coverage if they are alcohol-related. Along Mill Road, in both 2000 and 2001, pedestrian and household surveys revealed that people feel that drunk and disorderly behavior is an increasing problem in the area." Burglary is another crime that might not be affected.
A year later mobile CCTV cameras were bought, and installed in Mill Road. Their deployment strangely coincided with the ban on alcohol, and the notices forbidding gatherings on Mill Road, and giving powers to the police to disperse them. This scheme itself was subject to a lot of controversy: the council wanted to use a by-law to impose it (which would not be legal) while the home office provided special statutory tools for such policies (Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)). At the same time a press release from the lib dems (that control the council) claim a first victory for the mobile CCTV scheme: an incident of anti-social behaviour (could be anything including being drunk).
Is CCTV in this area really for reducing crime? Not really, just for a bit more social control. As the councilors say they have agreed with the police "to use new police dispersal powers to deal with anti-social behavior on the streets and these are proving very effective in conjunction with other powers and new mobile CCTV surveillance." Social clensing is in progress ...
Description of options and costs for mobile CCTV:
Mill road CCTV assessment
Map of the Mill Road area:
The DPPO story (Cambridge evening news)
Lib dem response: http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/camlibdems/z040312a.htm
All CCTV cameras in the city & what they are used for:
Freedom of Information: Community Safety and Crime
More documents (Annual control room reports) - including broken links:
I have a number of concerns:
1. While I support CCTV in the town centre, and other public areas, I oppose the use of CCTV in residential areas, and this camera has just appeared at the end of my street. I feel this is an excessive invasion of my privacy.
2. I am concerned that the placing of this camera is not in line with the information on CCTV cameras that is made available via the council web site. Specifically I believe the camera is inappropriately of a domed - hidden camera variety, and that the signage accompanying it is either not present or inadequate.
3. The council's information on CCTV which it makes available via its website is incomplete and inconsistent, which obstructs people making informed comment on CCTV. Specifically information on the police link is inconsistent, and there is no information on the security of the radio transmission of video from RCCTV cameras.
4. While the city council is fairly open about its use of CCTV, I feel comment on the city council's CCTV operations can not be taken alone, and while private / corporate use is mentioned, I would like to see a mention of "traffic CCTV", and any other state run cameras in the region - what they are doing, who regulates them etc. I believe there are some of these in the city - why aren't these subject to the same degree of openness as the city council cameras?
I am now going to expand on the above concerns:
The council's own "RCCTV Deployment Guidelines" state:
"12.1 RCCTV cameras will be mounted within the public view and with clear signage indicating their use within the area. "
The camera mounted on a lamp post (there are two brackets, with the camera apparently being moved between them) and is housed within an opaque dome. I believe this is contrary to the 2005 revision of the Code of Practice for the CCTV System used by Cambridge City Council which states cameras in domes will only be used in car parks. Section 1.3 states:
"All cameras are sited so that they are clearly visible, except in car parks, where cameras are mounted within protective domes."
I walk through the area covered by this camera often and have not seen any signage, therefore I believe any signage that is present is inadequate. Again the code of practice:
"Publicity will be given to the system by clear signing within the monitored area. This will ensure that both the maximum deterrent value is achieved and that the public are clearly aware when they are in a monitored area."
I would like to additionally suggest that those living close to the cameras, especially those living within the line of sight of the cameras be specifically informed of their siting.
Neither the RCCTV deployment guidelines or the code of practice for the CCTV system make any comment on the security of the radio link between the RCCTV cameras and the control centre - I believe the council should be open about if the feed is encrypted, or if everyone in the vicinity with appropriate equipment can view it. If the person commenting on this thread is correct then they've got nothing to hide here - why not tell us.
While Cambridge's CCTV code of practice this week I was surprised at the apparent lack of close integration with the police, with what initially struck me as a limited capability to pass only a single video feed onto a police control room. However, on this subject the 2004-5 Annual Report states:
"A police ‘Airwave’ secure radio has been installed in the CCTV Control Room. This radio enables us to monitor and speak to police officers on the ground in Cambridge, Ely and Soham. The radio has proven to be a great success, speeding up Operator re-action times and increasing the flow of accurate and..."
This appears to me to be a great improvement in the flow of information to the police and is something I support, but it is not mentioned in the 2005 revision of the code of practice as made available on the city council's website, in fact it is inconsistent with the two means of contact described in the code of practice - via an ISDN link to the control room, or on specific occasions when a police liaison officer is present in the control room. I feel it is important that we are given accurate information on the use of CCTV by the council, so we are able to make our informed views on it known.
PubClub and Shopwatch which the 04-5 annual report indicates are important channels for the use of CCTV information in Cambridge are also not mentioned in the code of practice - I see this as another omission. How the CCTV operators work with these organisations is something I see as as, if not more important than how they operate with the police. Can club bouncers request CCTV operators to follow individuals?
All above referenced documents are available from:
The CCTV operators manual is refered to, but it not one of the documents made available.
There is no mention of any automated software for face / number plate recognition, automated tracking of individuals - if this is being used or considered there should be an open debate about it.
Are software "blocks" on camera operators viewing private areas - eg. into people's houses put into place on the redeployable cameras - the available information appears unclear on this.