Every year about 200 representatives from the Swedish security industry meet to discuss security cameras. This year’s conference was particularly interesting. The Swedish government has appointed a commission to investigate possible changes in existing laws to make it easier to get permission to use surveillance cameras in public spaces, schools and workplaces.
These cameras are usually called surveillance or security cameras. However the security industry do not like the connotation of these words. Instead, they have begun to speak of “Trygghetskameror” which is difficult to translate accurately, but might be called “comforting cameras”. The organisers want to give the impression that surveillance cameras make us safer.
If you believe that, shouldn’t you welcome the added security it would mean to have a few extra cameras filming the participants at the conference? Therefore, DFRI was there with our own cameras to help out. To our (not so great) surprise, the participants did not feel at all comforted by the fact that we filmed them. These camera friends, as they call themselves, did not want to be the target of surveillance any more than anybody else. We were asked to leave the site so we continued our filming outside as the participants arrived at the conference.
Various studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of surveillance cameras in Stockholm, Oslo, London and many other cities. The results are consistent and show that the cameras have no more than a marginal effect. We have recently seen several examples of terrorists not being deterred by security cameras. The same applies to violent offenders. Drunk and emotional people commit almost all violent crimes in public places. They do not give surveillance a thought when emotions take over. Limiting alcohol use has proven far more effective to curb violence than mass surveillance of all honest citizens peacefully moving around in the city.
Protests against increased surveillance (in Swedish) (14.04.2016)
DFRI thrown out of conference on “Comforting Cameras” (in Swedish) (13.03.2016)
Surveillance cameras provide no security (in Swedish) (11.04.2016)
(Contribution by Peter Michanek, DFRI)