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London-style CCTV Coming to New York

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1 Response

  1. dc user says:

    The argument that CCTV fails to prevent crime/terrorism because the police can’t respond quickly enough has always struck me as incredibly facile — so facile, in fact, that I believe the opponents of CCTV are purposefully blinding themselves to the main way that CCTV prevents crime:

    1) CCTV helps identify both perpetrators and witnesses, and hence helps convict criminals after their crimes, even if it doesn’t help the police to intervene concurrently in a particular crime.

    2) Many criminals are repeat offenders.

    3) By taking the offender off the street (and into jail) before he repeats his crime, the CCTV lowers crime.

    Now let’s try the terrorism variant:

    1) CCTV helps to identify terrorists and trace their movements after their attacks. (Example: England’s use of 7/7 bombing footage)

    2) Terrorists frequently work in cells (or informally affiliate with other terrorists) to coordinate plans, supplies, financing, technology, document forgeries, and so forth. 3) Identifying the terrorists and their confederates (and tracing their movements) helps you to identify, investigate, arrest, and prosecute the other members of their cells. It helps you cut off financing and supplies.

    4) Even if particular suicide bombers can only do one attack, their affiliates and cells may be plannning other attacks — or would make new plans for new attacks in the future.

    5) Voila — CCTV can reduce future terrorism attacks.

    Now – none of this means that CCTV is ultimately worth it. We may well decide that these marginal improvements in our ability to prosecute crime/terrorism (and hence prevent future crimes/attacks) are not worth it given the privacy intrusions. But let’s have an honest debate.