Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Are the Most Spied-On People on Earth; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Asks Why Britain Has Become So Obsessed with Surveillance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Are the Most Spied-On People on Earth; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Asks Why Britain Has Become So Obsessed with Surveillance

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Saatchi the naked eye

BRITAIN has more surveillance cameras staring at us than any other nation. In fact, we are watched by more than 20 per cent of the world's CCTV units, despite being home to fewer than one per cent of the global population.

London ranks above Beijing and Chicago for being the most scrutinised city in the world. Residents are each captured on screens about 300 times a day.

The amount of snooping has escalated to the point that some observers liken us to a Big Brother environment, where citizens are monitored continuously.

Authorities around the world maintain that building up their surveillance networks helps to protect their communities. As the Mayor of Chicago explained: "Cameras identify the individual who has committed the crime. Simple as that an enormous number of cases were solved overwhelmingly by a camera: identification of a car, a licence plate, a face."

A spokesman for Wandsworth council is clear that they help solve crimes, and points out that there are multiple other ways CCTV has proved valuable, citing the example that it had enabled the rescue of someone who had fallen into the Thames. "We try and strike a balance with civil liberties, and feel we are reacting to what residents want." Certainly, the majority don't seem to notice or mind. "I've never really thought about them," says commuter Jane Taylor. "They're not particularly obtrusive and I think it's a good thing especially at night to think someone is keeping an eye on things." Nadine Shah, a bank worker, agrees. "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about, have you? If they deter crime and help the police I don't see that being a problem. People say it's like 1984 but it's a long way from that."

However, business analyst Jonathan Powers is among those who are concerned about the invasion of privacy. …

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