Public video surveillance, pros & cons, surveillance in public places

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October 25, 2006
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An increased concern over public safety is simply a product of the world in which we live today. Coming up with more innovative and effective ways to ensure public safety will likely be the focus of governmental and state agencies across the nation for a long time to come. While it is safe to assume that most individuals see the advantages society as a whole can receive from the implementation of effective safety measures, not all individuals agree on the best way to achieve that peace of mind.

The use of public video surveillance is one of the more popular security methods being employed, but it is certainly not without controversy. This article will take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of using video surveillance in public places.

Arguments for using video surveillance to ensure public safety

  • Increased safety — The presence of video surveillance cameras can have a positive effect on increasing public safety. Active surveillance systems that are monitored routinely on a real-time basis provide the advantage of being able to detect suspicious activity. Early detection can lead to crime prevention.
  • Crime deterrent — The mere presence of video surveillance cameras can act as a powerful crime deterrent. Individuals are less likely to commit a crime if they suspect that they are being monitored. Several conditions do have to be met though in order for a surveillance system to be a successful crime deterrent. Cameras have to be visible to the perpetrator and cameras have to be routinely monitored so that any suspicions activity is immediately dealt with.
  • Provides evidence for investigations — Evidence that has been obtained from video gathered from video surveillance cameras has proved invaluable in some police investigations. The ability to review captured video images has aided many investigations by providing clear details of what actually took place.

Arguments against using video surveillance to ensure public safety

  • Invasion of privacy — The general rule of thumb is that any video monitoring activity that takes place anywhere that the public has access to does not constitute an invasion of privacy. However, it is not always so cut and dry. Some have argued that the use of covert cameras is an invasion of privacy since the cameras cannot be detected. Many worry that there really is no way to prevent the unlawful use of video surveillance because cameras are so easily attainable and technologically advanced.
  • Miss-use of images — Another argument against the use of public surveillance is the potential misuse of captured images. Captured images should never be released to the public. The only time captured images should ever be released is if they are needed to aid in a police investigation. Problems can arise however when private companies for example are hired to monitor and review surveillance video tapes.

Some real advantages can be gained through the proper use of public surveillance. If implemented properly, surveillance can be very effective. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to protect against all potential misuses of video surveillance. However, there are measures you can put in place to protect yourself against any potential invasion of privacy claims.

If you are using video surveillance on your premises, make sure you post signs clearly informing the public of the fact there are video cameras present. It is also important to provide contact information so further information can be requested. Another important step is to distribute your security policies and procedures to all of your employees. This will go along way towards protecting you against any potential invasion of privacy claims.

Also See: 3 ]
Exploring the benefits of installing surge protection for CCTV equipment ]
Smarthome for retail wireless surveillance cameras for home security ]

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