In the press: How the media is reporting the 1.85 million cameras story

SecurityNewsDesk screenshot: only 1.85 million cameras in the UK
SecurityNewsDesk screenshot: only 1.85 million cameras in the UK

SecurityNewsDesk screenshot: only 1.85 million cameras in the UK

The story that Britons are being watched by 1.85 million CCTV cameras instead of 4.2 million broke in the national news this morning.

The Guardian, Daily Mail and Press Association all picked up on the story of how many CCTV cameras there are in the UK that we first ran in CCTV Image and SecurityNewsDesk.com.

It’s based on research conducted by DCC Graeme Gerrard of Cheshire Constabulary and his GIS administrator Richard Thompson. With more than a little help from the force’s PCSOs, they mapped every camera in the county and then extrapolated that figure to reach a national projection of 1.85 million CCTV cameras.

If you do the maths, that works out to about 1 camera for every 32 people.

Despite the fact that this is a massive reduction from the previously quoted figure of one camera for every 14 people in the UK, The Daily Mail still manages to be shocked and outraged:

Big Brother is DEFINITELY watching you: Shocking study reveals UK has one CCTV for every 32 people

It’s an astonishing statistic that is sure to send a chills down the spines of freedom campaigners.

A huge study has revealed that in Big Brother Britain there is an incredible one CCTV camera for every 32 citizens.

The revelation that 1.85 million cameras are watching our every move confirms the shocking extent of surveillance in 21st century Britain.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1362493/One-CCTV-camera-32-people-Big-Brother-Britain.html

Meanwhile the Guardian’s coverage of the story is much more balanced. With a long-time interest in CCTV and surveillance issues, Paul Lewis presents DCC Gerrard’s report in a balanced and fair way while still conveying the fact that some people are uncomfortable about the growth of the video surveillance.

You’re being watched: there’s one CCTV camera for every 32 people in UK

Research shows 1.85m machines across Britain, most of them indoors and privately operated

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/02/cctv-cameras-watching-surveillance

The story was also picked up by the Press Association which published:

Britons ‘on CCTV 70 times a day’

The UK has about 1.85 million CCTV cameras and the average Briton is caught on camera 70 times a day, police figures have suggested.

The new estimates suggest there are less than half the number of cameras in the UK than previously thought.

Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard, the lead on CCTV for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the latest numbers, based on a map of CCTV systems in Cheshire, were intended to “inject more rigorous figures into the debate” over Britain as a surveillance state.  Read more here.

And Fullfact.org, a website which promotes accuracy in public debate, has asked for a copy of the report to publish on their website. www.fullfact.org. [Update] The article has been published along with some new links to sources: http://fullfact.org/blog/full_facts_on_cctv_cameras_show_full_fact_necessary-2533

If you spot other instances of this statistic in the news, please leave a comment below or contact us.

[Edit]

BBC Radio 4 picked up the story as well and broadcast a 2 minute piece at the end of the 6 O’Clock News on 3 March 2011. You can find the programme here – The item, which includes an interview with DCC Graeme Gerrard, begins at 27 mins 56 seconds.

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