Physical Security: Spy Britain…..six million CCTV cameras – and most are in private hands

Up to six million CCTV cameras are operating in Britain in places ranging from trains and shops to catteries, sewage plants and stud farms, a new study revealed today.

The research, conducted for the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), says that cameras monitoring railway and Tube stations, roads, schools and universities are among those controlled by police or other public authorities.

But it says that there are 70 times more cameras operated privately by businesses and others using the devices for reasons including the protection of property, crime detection, or safety.


It says the findings, which represent one of the most comprehensive attempts to assess the extent of CCTV use, indicate that notions of a “Big Brother” state are misplaced because relatively few of the country’s cameras are in the authorities’ control.

It warns that a bigger concern is the lack of regulation governing privately run cameras and says that new rules are needed to enforce better standards.

The conclusions, unveiled today in London, will revive the debate about the so-called “surveillance society” and follow the introduction last year of new government guidelines to control the use of state cameras in the Home Office’s Protection of Freedoms Act.

The study, which uses complex calcuations based on the number of different types of property, average floor areas and other data, says that a precise total is impossible, but estimates that there are between 4.1 million and just over 5.9 million cameras nationwide.

It says there are probably only 70,255 cameras in public control — defined as local authorities and police — which is “perhaps only 1.2 to 1.7 per cent” of the overall number in use.

Local authority cameras are given as 59,753 across Britain, although this figure dates from 2009, while police are reported to have 10,502 cameras.

Transport for London has 13,000 cameras on the Tube network, double the 2003 figure — an average of 52 cameras for each of the 250 stations.

State schools are estimated to have between 290,000 to 370,000 cameras.

By contrast, today’s study says that there are 2.7 million cameras in shops, offices and warehouses and lists a range of other establishments where the CCTV is used — including universities, kennels, catteries, sewage works, stud farms, go kart tracks, zoos and safari parks, auction rooms, landfill sites and golf driving ranges.

Originally published by the Evening Standard on the 10th July 2013

When the full report is published publicly I will add a copy here. PD

Update 15/7/13 unfortunately the report isn’t available for free (!), but Copies of the research are available to purchase from the BSIA directly, by calling 0845 389 3889. Read a little more information here


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