Thursday, April 28, 2005

Vancouver considers proposal to cover downtown's trouble spots with CCTV

From the Vancouver Province, the City of Vancouver is considering a proposal to install a network of CCTV cameras in the downtown. There's just a bit of opposition, with civil liberties groups calling it a waste of resources:

Police raise spectre of cameras in downtown's troubled spots: Police board to hear results of British study before deciding CCTV's fate:

"....A proposal to install 23 cameras in the Downtown Eastside was shelved in 2004, pending the results of the British study.

Barwatch, an organization that works with police to try to ensure patron safety in downtown establishments, is also onside with a CCTV system.

'They did it in Kelowna and it's been very effective,' said vice-chairman Vance Campbell.

Barwatch talked with police about a downtown system in the mid-1990s, but the idea was abandoned because of privacy concerns, Campbell said.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is opposed to the cameras as a 'colossal waste of resources' and an inexcusable invasion of privacy.

Those who claim otherwise are 'full of baloney,' said executive director Murray Mollard.

'They actually don't make a difference from an empirical point of view. I'm not even sure they make people feel safer,' Mollard said. 'It just displaces crime.'

The British study appears to support Mollard's views.

It looked at 14 systems with hundreds of cameras and evaluated their effectiveness. In the majority of the areas, crime rates actually increased.

Just two areas reported a statistically-significant reduction in recorded crime and only in one is it 'plausible that the role of CCTV was a significant factor in this reduction,' the report states.

After a legal battle pitting former federal privacy commissioner Don [sic] Radwanski against the city, Kelowna installed a permanent camera to watch a section of its downtown.

The case against the camera was tossed out of court in the summer of 2003. Mayor Walter Gray said the monitoring device is an effective crime reduction tool."

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