Schoolchildren, the elderly and the infirm are being watched by an astonishing 750,000 spy cameras across Britain, a survey has revealed. There are nearly 5 million CCTV cameras in the country, researchers found – the equivalent of one for every 12 people. Surveillance was particularly high in ‘sensitive locations’ such as care homes, hospitals and schools. Campaigners have criticized the growth of the ‘surveillance state’, lambasting the Government for embarking upon a journey similar to George Orwell’s vision in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated there were 4.9 million closed-circuit television cameras in the country, but said the figure could be as high as 5.9 million. Previous estimates ranged from 1.5 million to 4 million. Nick Pickles, director of the privacy campaign Big Brother Watch, criticized the findings. The survey included all cameras in public and private areas, regardless of whether the images are recorded or watched ‘live’.
Simon Adcock, of the BSIA, said: ‘This study represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date study undertaken into the number of CCTV cameras in use in the UK. Because there is no single reliable source of data, no number can ever be held as truly accurate, however the middle of our range suggests that there are around 5million cameras.’ The authority estimated there are between 291,000 and 373,000 cameras in public sector schools, plus a further 30,000 to 50,000 in independent schools.
Surgeries and health centres have an estimated 80,000 to 159,000, while there are believed to be between 53,000 and 159,000 cameras in restaurants. A previous investigation found councils were using CCTV cameras to ‘sting’ motorists with unfair traffic fines to raise extra cash. High-tech surveillance cameras were catching out cars performing U-turns and being stuck in box junctions as part of a ‘target-based, revenue-raising culture’, according to damning documents released to a campaigner under the Freedom of Information Act.