image above:my commentary on being monitored, "Just F.ck Off ", created 2021.
The disappearance of Nicola Bulley, apart from being a tragic matter for her family, raises huge issues about the level of surveillance we are comfortable living with.
The police dialogue focussing on the gaps in CCTV coverage of her countryside walk raises the issue of how normalised we are to police surveillance.
We no longer question the need for CCTV but the questions we should be asking are:
· Is there anywhere we can’t be seen or have our actions judged?
· Is CCTV required for national security or traffic control?
· Does knowing that you are being watched make you act differently?
· Do you feel safer because of CCTV?
Let’s put this into some context: In London there are 691,707 CCTV i.e. 1 CCTV Camera for every 13 people (20/21 figures)
In London it is likely that you will be caught on security camera over 300 times a day, yet, London is perceived as the fourth least safe city in UK (with Birmingham as the least safe.)
It seems that CCTV has become a tool of control in totalitarian counties so It’s surprising that London should appear among a list of the top ten most monitored cities in the world
Based on the number of cameras per 1,000 people, these cities are the top, most monitored in the world:
1.Taiyuan, China – 465,255 cameras for 3,891,127 people = 119.57 cameras per 1,000 people
2.Wuxi, China – 300,000 cameras for 3,256,020 people = 92.14 cameras per 1,000 people
3.London, England (UK) – 691,727 cameras for 9,304,016 people =73.98 cameras per 1,000 people
4.Changsha, China – 260,000 cameras for 4,577,723 people = 56.80 cameras per 1,000 people
5.Beijing, China – 1,150,000 cameras for 20,462,610 people = 56.20 cameras per 1,000 people
6.Hangzhou, China – 400,000 cameras for 7,642,147 people = 52.34 cameras per 1,000 people
7.Kunming, China – 200,000 cameras for 4,443,186 people = 45.01 cameras per 1,000 people
8.Qingdao, China – 250,000 cameras for 5,619,977 people = 44.48 cameras per 1,000 people
9.Xiamen, China – 150,000 cameras for 3,720,141 people = 40.32 cameras per 1,000 people
10.Harbin, China – 250,000 cameras for 6,387,195 people = 39.14 cameras per 1,000 people
This industrial scale monitoring of our actions continues throughout Britain with the most monitored cities outside London as:
1.Bristol.658 cameras and a population of 650,000 = 1 for every 1000 people.
2.Birmingham.422 for 1.2million people i.e 0.4 for every 1000 people
9.Kingston upon Hull.292
When reviewed against figures for crimes committed, Bristol is the second safest English city* yet is perceived by residents as the 47th worst and yet taking a walk down Gloucester road to visit the harbourside/centre means I am likely to be caught on 30 different CCTV cameras.
So, do I feel safer? No, and yet the police monologue about the gaps in coverage causing difficulties in their understanding of what has happened to Nicola Bulley only fuels their need for more and while I feel for her family, removing our right to privacy is not something that we should encourage, but perhaps its already too late.