In many cities the use of video cameras in public places is being increased in order to reduce crime, but some people believe these measures restrict our individual freedom.
Do the benefits of increased security outweigh the drawbacks?
In many metropolitan areas CCTV is on the increase with the express purpose of reducing crime, however, some would argue that these encroach upon our liberty. This essay will argue that the advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages because surveillance cameras do not deter serious criminals and the vast majority of people they record are innocent members of society who have a right to privacy.
Most advocates of increased surveillance argue that cameras deter crime because criminals are less likely to commit crimes if they know they are being watched. This might be the case for petty crime, but it does not prevent more serious crimes. Drug dealers and murderers will simply use areas that are not monitored or do something to obscure their identity. The recent attacks on Paris by terrorists demonstrate that all areas are vulnerable no matter how many cameras are pointing at them.
This argument is further weakened by the fact that the overwhelming majority of people filmed in public places are ordinary, law abiding citizens and this is an infringement of their rights. A person should not have their every move digitally recorded, when all they want to do is travel to their job or go shopping. A person is left with a choice of either surrendering their privacy or not going to public spaces, which is an erosion of the right to privacy. For example, it is estimated that a person living in any major city in the UK will be recorded up to 80% of the time they are in public.
In conclusion, the drawbacks of video surveillance far outweigh the benefits because major criminals, including terrorists, are not put off by it and it results in citizens having to relinquish too much of their private lives to the state.