ANTI-CAMERA CREW German militants make an online game out of CCTV camera destruction
10 april 2013
Civil liberties activists in Germany and elsewhere are taking a novel, and militant, approach to CCTV culture. A new game dubbed ‘Camover’ is taking the country’s cities and the internet by storm. The premise? Get a crew, a catchy name, then black-block up and decommission street cameras in whatever inventively destructive fashion you like, from axes to lassoes.
Bizarrely, considering the general anti-camera focus of the hi-jinks, the trashings are being filmed and shared on the net – where they are compared and scored. Points are given for each camera smashed and for the originality of the method, leading commentators to claim a new era of militancy where reality-gaming meets activism.
The game originated in Berlin, where anti-CCTV feeling has been brewing in the radical circles. Attempts at more standard protest, including a small march and film showings, made little impact, so a black bloc took to the streets one night to take more shady direct action. Now participants are getting in on the game from Finland, Greece and the US.
As one Camover blog put it, “In the supermarket, in the university, at work, in the tram or in the ATMs – we hate them all. We are not interested in feeling “safe” and we don’t want them to stop crime.”
And from the Finnish: “During the last weeks we have blinded several CCTV-cameras around capital area of Finland. CCTV-cameras are important part of social control against people. It’s about power and control, and not about peoples values and rights. It’s about turning us into slaves and fearing authorities. But we can defend ourselves against the state and against corporations and take away Big Brothers sight.”
Published on 21st February 2013 | Part of Issue 838 | Print Friendly Version
Find this story at 21 Fabruary 2013
See this Youtube video to get the idea.
CCTV increases people’s sense of anxiety
2 november 2012
Caretakers and community workers are the way to improve safety in deprived communities, not more technology
Not long ago, I was shown around an award-winning housing estate in east London, which was the proud recipient of a Secured by Design (SBD) award. The housing on the gated estate had small windows, reinforced steel doors and grey, aluminium, military-style roofs. The overall effect was oppressive.
High levels of security have come to characterise our public buildings. This is because security has become a prerequisite of planning permission as a result of SBD, which is a design policy that has the blessing of the police. Administered by the Association of Chief Police Officers, SBD is funded by the 480 security companies that sell the goods needed to meet the required standards. The unintended effects that this approach has had on fear and trust in communities are the subject of my forthcoming report, Fortress Britain, from the New Economics Foundation thinktank.
SBD has its roots in the idea of “defensible space”, created by the American architect and town planner Oscar Newman in the early 1970s, as a result of research he carried out in three deprived New York housing projects. His main finding was that “territoriality” created space that could defend itself. By marking out boundaries clearly, residents would feel a sense of ownership over communal spaces and would discourage strangers and opportunistic criminals from entering.
Newman’s considerable influence led to the adoption of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design in the US, the design policy that was imported as SBD into Britain, where it began life as a regional crime reduction initiative in the late 1980s.
Both in the US and in Britain the idea of defensible space was very popular because it provided a simple solution: rather than engaging with complex social relations as the underlying causes of crime, SBD promoted the idea that environmental design was the biggest influence on behaviour.
Today, SBD is based on a combination of defensible space ideas and the purchase of security products, strongly backed by the insurance industry, which provides lower premiums for properties with SBD.
Many of the recommendations, such as the need to provide good locks on windows and doors, are sensible. But the blanket application of SBD standards tends to create a threatening environment, particularly in poorer areas.
For example, in schools and public buildings the first step of SBD is a crime risk assessment, which is about the local area. While high fences, walls or other barriers are a prerequisite for any school, the crime risk assessment will suggest whether additional security measures are necessary. This means that in higher crime areas security is much greater, creating places that have a militarised feel to them. Because higher crime areas tend to be poor, deprived neighbourhoods have become characterised by public buildings, such as council offices, that come with fortress-like levels of security.
Lack of evidence
One of the main reasons for this report was the lack of evidence that installing gates and CCTV created safe, cohesive and trusting communities. Of the few existing studies, an investigation into CCTV by the then Scottish Office found that, while people often believed CCTV would make them feel safer, the opposite turned out to be the case.
My report, which includes a field study carried out on a Peabody Trust housing estate in central London, hopes to add to this slim body of research. Interviews and focus groups were carried out with residents and practitioners working in neighbourhood management, estate services and youth services on Peabody Avenue, an estate where 55 new homes have recently been completed.
What we found independently was that, although increased security, and in particular CCTV, was often very popular with residents, it did not necessarily lead to feelings of increased safety, with residents reporting that the presence of CCTV could instead increase anxiety.
Security measures including gates and internal doors elicited a similar response, with residents illustrating that “defensible space” can increase fear of strangers. “Because of the doors, if you see someone you don’t know, there is an element of ‘Who is this?'” one resident commented. A practitioner added: “The more you secure a block or an estate, the more it gives a message that something is wrong with that estate.”
Incidents of actual crime were barely mentioned. By far the biggest problem was young people hanging around late into the night in the courtyard of the estate, which is surrounded by housing. On a number of occasions the play area had been vandalised. Because the young people in question were either residents or friends of residents, barring access to the estate through the use of gates did not seem sensible. The study suggested that high security was offered as a technical response to a complex social problem, which required a different kind of solution. It was clear that residents felt that “knowing people”, whether it be caretakers, youth workers or each other, was the key to creating trust.
“The physical security measures – such as gating, intercom systems, CCTV – have increased, and the eyes on the ground have been removed. There’s more CCTV, less manpower,” said one practitioner.
• Fortress Britain: high security, insecurity and the challenge of preventing harm, by Anna Minton and Jody Aked. Anna Minton is the 1851 Royal Commission in the Built Environment fellow. She is on Radio 4’s Four Thought at 8.45pm on Wednesday
The Guardian, Tuesday 30 October 2012 17.00 GMT
Find this story at 30 October 2012
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
CCTV out of focus with crime
2 november 2012
Closed circuit television camera systems in town and city centres have failed to match their anti-crime expectations, according to a report.
Professor James Ditton, of the Scottish Centre for Criminology, says the cameras have not lived up to their early promise.
After four years of monitoring the monitors, the professor, who led a Scottish Office study into CCTV, has called for an independent watchdog to oversee the use of the technology.
The centre of Glasgow alone is screened day and night by 32 cameras.
“It has been overhyped and I think that is one of the problems,” Prof Ditton told BBC Scotland. “It was allegedly going to give us these magnificent benefits of reducing crime and making the fear of crime diminish to almost nothing.
“Although it probably does have some utility for the police it does not have these wonderful great societal benefits, so we really question whether the benefits it does bring us justify photographing everybody who goes into the city everyday.”
He argued that since the Glasgow cameras were switched on in 1994 crime had fallen more sharply elsewhere than under their gaze.
He said street surveys had shown people do not feel any safer now.
Professor Ditton also said the cameras had not proved cost effective, producing just one arrest every 40 days.
“We were very surprised by the findings. We had done some previous research in Airdrie where CCTV started in Scotland and where we found there was quite a significant fall in crime after the installation of the cameras,” he said.
“To be honest, we expected to find the same in the Glasgow and we were very surprised to find it didn’t really happen.”
The report said there had been no sign of the investment, jobs or visitors it was promised the cameras would generate.
But because CCTV systems are spreading across the country and some have a wide focus, the professor is advocating the creation of an independent watchdog to monitor the way the cameras are used.
He said people may begin to question whether they want the police secretly to tape them in public.
“The cameras were so vastly overhyped as a magic bullet cure for everything when they were introduced, that we were all blinded to the fact that this was a small addition in police terms, but a rather large incursion in civil liberty terms,” said Professor Ditton.
Edinburgh city centre CCTV operator Gary Ogilvie responded to the report by insisting on the benefits of the system.
Mr Ogilvie said: “The cameras can cover large areas very quickly.
“We are identifying things which we can get the police travelling to quickly.
“In Edinburgh we have an excellent relationship with the police and we get very good response times.
“This is something the business community in Edinburgh has commented upon – that response times to incidents since CCTV went in have been much improved,” he added.
But a Scottish Executive spokesman said while the government was disappointed with the figures in the research, it still believed CCTV made a significant contribution to cutting crime.
“The Scottish Executive believes that the majority of CCTV schemes help to prevent crime and allay public concerns,” he said.
CCTV ‘fails to cut crime and anxiety’
Doubts on £170m extension plan
Gerard Seenan, Guardian, 15/7/99
Closed circuit television cameras, one of the government’s key weapons in the war against crime, neither reduce crime nor the fear of it, according to one of the most comprehensive investigations carried out on the subject.
A report prepared for the Scottish office concludes that CCTV has not succeeded in making the streets safer or in making people feel safer.
The results follow similar conclusions by researchers in Wales last week, and cast doubt on the government’s decision to spend £170m extending CCTV across Britain.
The research, carried out over a two year period in Glasgow, reveals that in the first year after CCTV was introduced crime rose in the city by 9%. The crime clear-up rate dropped by 4% over the same period.
Jason Ditton, professor of criminology at Sheffield university, who led the research, said he believed the results should open up debate on CCTV and how it was regulated.
“What we have been able to show is that CCTV didn’t reduce crime – if anything it has increased – and it didn’t reduce fear of crime. If anything there was a slight increase in anxiety.”
The researchers surveyed Glaswegians before the CCTV system was set up and found that most said they would feel safer if their city was protected by CCTV.
But after one year of operation, most said they did not feel any safer, and more people said they would avoid the city centre.
Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said the research should prompt a fresh look at the use of CCTV in Britain.
“The claim that people feel safer because of the technology has been clearly shown to be misleading;’ Mr Davies said.
A spokeswoman for the home office said the government had never claimed CCTV was a panacea, but it still had great faith in its usefulness.
The Scottish executive, which received the report, said it would still continue with its expansion of CCTV in Scotland.
“The effect of Closed Circuit Television on recorded crime rates and public concern about crime rates in Glasgow” by Prof. Jason Ditton is published by the Scottish Office, ISBN 07480 85416.
Find this story at 14 July 1999
BBC Online, Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK