The presence of CCTV in the UK makes people feel safe, but the images captured by today’s cameras are grainy and pixelated, causing difficultly with suspect identification. As a result, 72 percent of the public would feel more secure if Britain’s streets had high-definition (HD) CCTV in place rather than standard CCTV systems so that clearer pictures could be obtained.
The findings in a survey by YouGov and Avigilon, a surveillance solutions company, show that 38 percent of people feel safe in areas where they know CCTV is being used because it acts as a deterrent, and a further 41 percent attribute the feeling of safety to the fact security forces can use the footage if anything were to happen.
But the public’s perception of safety is potentially being undermined by CCTV systems that are not fit for purpose. According to a recent report from IMS Research (now part of IHS Inc.) 58.7 percent of the UK’s new sales of surveillance systems in 2012 were analogue. This fact was highlighted by consumer respondents, with just under half (48 percent) expecting images from CCTV in the UK to be grainy and pixelated where you are unable to identify people.
Other key findings show:
• Here’s looking at you Recent high profile use of CCTV to capture suspects seems to have highlighted its role in society. Only 18 percent agreed the use of higher definition CCTV on Britain’s streets is an invasion of privacy, with just 2 percent seeing no need for CCTV in the UK.
• Location, location, location When asked where they think it is important to have CCTV that can clearly identify individuals, 82 percent of people selected at transport hubs, 69 percent at football matches, 67 percent selected commercial buildings such as shopping centres, and 65 percent said public streets.
• Picture perfect - 51 percent think that CCTV plays a small part in identifying suspects and prosecuting criminal activity, but believe that it can be called into question over picture quality.
• The business outlook When it came to decision makers whose businesses use CCTV, 41 percent said that the use of CCTV has provided peace of mind, but only 20 percent said they have been able to use footage for a prosecution.
Robin Hughes, director of business development for the UK and Ireland at Avigilon says,“The use of CCTV today is seen as a key asset by the public, but many are quick to notice a difference between the pixelated images on the news and the quality they’re used to in their everyday lives on smart phones or HD TVs. CCTV does create a feeling of security for people, which is good, but how effective is the surveillance on Britain’s streets when it comes to clearly identifying suspects. More can be done to increase security. At the moment manufacturer’s figures estimate less than one in ten CCTV cameras in the UK are HD.”
IHS estimates the global market for CCTV is to grow at around 14 percent per year to 2016, with the market for network IP growing faster than analogue. Such systems enable HD cameras to be deployed at a lower cost than ever before.
Councillor Martin Gregory of the Looe Town Council recently oversaw the upgrade of the town’s surveillance system to HD CCTV. He explains,“Our old system was better suited for indoor use and the footage was so grainy that we could not easily identify anything. Since the installation, local law enforcement officials ask to view footage on a regular basis and can now quickly and easily obtain useable footage that stands up in court when an incident occurs.”
Hughes adds,“Despite potential perceived issues around usage and privacy, respondents see a clear value to CCTV in the UK. The challenge is to deliver the most effective value from such systems, ensuring responsible surveillance. Not only is it more cost effective for businesses and councils to use HD surveillance, but the chances of prosecution increases considerably. One of our retail customers saw a 90 percent successful prosecution rate after installing HD surveillance. Such factors can only drive public safety, by ensuring the right people are being identified quickly.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
National representative sample: sample size was 2076 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25 to 27 March 2013.
Business sample: sample size was 531 senior decision makers in all business sizes. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25 to 28 March 2013.
Both surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).