back to article Cops admit CCTV no use in deterring drunken violence

Forests of CCTV cameras in the UK's town centres have failed to have any impact on anti-social behaviour, an ACPO official told the House of Lords Constitution Committee yesterday. Graeme Gerrard, head of CCTV at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said cameras did a good job deterring crimes like theft, for …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And of course

    them getting collared and cautioned adds one to the stats

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    doesn't make you safer

    but it makes it easier to put people away and distrobute fines once they've sobered up and thought "geez I was a twat last night"

  3. Risky

    Meanwhile out in the countryside..

    ...cCTV cameras are mostly deployed to spot attack on speed cameras.

  4. oliver Stieber
    Black Helicopters

    mandatory prison sentence

    maybe if violent crime carried a mandatory prison sentence then people would think twice.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Who'd win then?

    A bunch of piss-head louts or the Sally Army?

    You could even watch it on the community CCTV cameras.

    Who says they're good for nothing?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    When they *are* caught.

    They are invariably let off with a caution or bailed so they can go and kick some poor bastard to death.

    The one thing these dirtbags value more than anything is their "street cred". How they are 'respected' by their peers and feared by others. Asbos and cautions just add to their credibility.

    Therefore, the best punishment is one that makes them look as stupid and pathetic as possible.

    So, dress 'em in a frilly ballet tu-tu, parade 'em around the town they caused grief in, then give 'em a public caning.

    Would it work? Maybe, even if it didn't it would give the law abiding majority a bloody good laugh at their expense, and it can't be any *less* effective than the 'punishments' handed down by the woolly minded, fluffy bunny, liberals that run this f'ing country at the moment.

  7. JimC

    > put them away / mandatiory prison sentence

    Put them away where?

  8. Vulpes Vulpes

    @Oliver Steiber

    That wouldn't make a h'appeth of difference; drunken twats are not thinking rationally at all, so delayed consequences don't even surface for consideration in their pea-like brains.

    The only thing being processed at the time of the drunken violent bahaviour is "Am I going to get my head kicked in here?".

    Ergo, give the police BIG sticks, and beat the crap out of the little f*ckers, it's the only thing they understand.

  9. Mark

    "the contribution to crime investigation"

    Well, duh! You can see someone giving another person a kicking so you know there's a crime being committed. You need that before you can investigate.

    However, you can't see who it was clearly enough and your monitoring station is miles away so it doesn't help you either stop it or prosecute it.

    But you DO know about it.

    Weasel words? Weasels would be ashamed of a sentence like that...

  10. Richard

    Bleeding Obvious

    CCTV cameras are useless for reducing anti-social behaviour unless:

    1. Someone is monitoring the things in real-time

    2. There is enough police manpower to respond - quickly!

    Maybe put the CCTV feeds on the web - then anyone interested can keep an eye on what's going on - and maybe go and join in the rumble if they feel like it ;-)

  11. Nic Brough

    Meanwhile, back in the real world

    On the occaisions when CCTV footage is needed to make a case against a criminal, we find the vast majority of footage is too low a quality to show "beyond reasonable doubt" that it is the accused (ask your local magistrates)

    Why can't we just dump the pointless CCTV and hire a few more coppers with the money we save?

  12. Andy S


    If the video quality of these cameras was high enough to actually identify somebody after the fact, other than general build and clothes, so that they could be arrested, it might make a difference. At the moment it relies on somebody monitoring the cctv, seeing an attack and dispatching the police who, hopefully, will arrive in time to intervene. If they actually manage to catch them in the act, this can then be backed up by some low definition grainy footage of exactly what happened if it goes to court.

    The sheer number of cameras out there makes me doubt the effectiveness of the monitoring though, its just not possible to constantly watch that many video feeds, no mater how many people you have.

  13. Mike

    Alternate uses

    ..which is why a lot of CCTV cameras which were justified on grounds of crime prevention are now bieng pointed at bus lanes and honey-trap parking spots to screw the motorist.

  14. Christopher Reeve's Horse Silver badge

    You have 20 seconds to comply!

    Why not fit the CCTV's with minigun turrets?

  15. Alex

    time to bring back the old traditions

    throw em in the stocks!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! BURN THE WITICH!!! sorry about that, I don't know what came over me.

    actually I've just thought of a bit of a problem with locking people in the stocks!!

  16. Simon Goodwin
    Black Helicopters

    Not the Point

    CCTV is not there to catch criminals, it is the forebearer of CCTV in your street (for your safety), then in your home (sorry what have you go to fear, are you a paedo or something??).

    Tin foil hats everyone

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Australia? By Coracle?

    That would prove how hard they are....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Put the CCTV feeds on the web (or cable)

    Haven't they done that (or at least, put them on the local cable TV) in one London borough, with some degree of popularity and maybe even success? It's even been reported somewhere here on El Reg. After all, it couldn't be any worse than Nutz TV could it?

  19. Hooch181

    @Nic Brough

    We can't dump it because the right honerable Suchandsuch's mate who makes the cameras would not be making as much money!

  20. Mike Richards Silver badge


    'Gerrard insisted that the proliferation of CCTV cameras in public spaces was being driven by local communities, or rather local authorities and other public agencies.'

    For which the Home Office makes available seemingly endless amounts of public money.

    This is government policy.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    And in other news...

    Gordon Brown is Prime Minister.

    Pope admitted, "Yes, I am Catholic."

    Bear says, "Mind where you walk in the woods, I did it over there."

    Any more stories of the completely obvious you want to tell us about?

  22. Karl Lattimer

    simple solution

    make people drink proper drinks and ban alcopops and alike. These things are full of mind bending E numbers and sugars. They mess with your mind on a far higher level than, say ale or whisk(e)y.

  23. matt

    My chirstmas eve

    This year walking back from the pub on chirstmas eve we stopped and watched a series of 10 or so fights in about 20 minutes out side a pub (yes on christmas eve).

    We saw the CCTV camera turn round to see them and within 5 minutes the Police had turned up in force and with dogs.

    I think the CCTV spotted what was going on (nobody seemed that bothered about stopping the fighting). If the police hadnt have turned up the fighting would have gone on and on I'm sure. So in this case it did stop some fights from happening.

    We stood at a safe distance and watched the festivities. Poor cops didnt see to happy about having to come out.

  24. adnim


    deters a drunk from anything. If they are eventually caught and prosecuted make 'em wear sandwich boards with the words:

    "I am an absolute twat, I get pissed and hurt people, I get pissed and smash up my own surroundings. I have no respect for anything except that what my warped upbringing and my equally sick and twisted peers have taught me to respect. Basically I am one sad little muthafu*ker. It is partly the fault of my parents, but it is I who should bear the majority of responsibility and the associated shame for my actions. My name is Joe Soap and I live at 21 This Street, Newtown, Somewhereshire. My telephone number is 123456789"

    written in fluorescent clear type.

    we need a noose icon.

  25. Spleen


    "So, dress 'em in a frilly ballet tu-tu, parade 'em around the town they caused grief in, then give 'em a public caning."

    If you think that would deter them, you've never seen a 20-something fancy dress party, or a hazing ritual. Youths, certainly British youths, have a very strong sadomasochistic streak.

  26. John

    Simple solution...

    In my opinion, alcohol is a major root of evil.

    From violent crime, vandalism, wife beating... The list goes on.

    Make holding a driving licence mandatory (even if its provisional) to prove your age. Nothing else will be accepted to purchase alcohol. Possibly add a chip to store how much alcohol you can consume. If you are a drunk lout, your card gets barred or limited.

    Make the alcohol manufacturers partially responsible financially for damage, injury and death as a result of drinking. Doesn’t sound fair, but they create the Alco-pops targeted at kids!

    I’m getting older and more grumpy every day!

  27. Anton Ivanov
    Paris Hilton

    @mandatory prison sentence

    This never worked even in Victorian times.

    No chance it will work today. You are offering them a "holiday break" financed by public money.

    I have so far seen only one "punishment" to deter drunken crime.

    Anyone caught shitfaced beyond recognition faces mandatory toxicology assessment followed by reporting the fact that you have been documented to have a serious substance abuse problem to the employer. From there on it is just a standard gross misconduct and/or "putting the company into disrepute" case.

  28. Rigger
    Thumb Down

    Graeme Gerrard, 2001

    "We welcome this additional investment in CCTV.

    "When cameras are properly targeted, they can deter offenders, reduce the level of crime and increase the feeling of safety for those using our public spaces."

    Graeme Gerrard, Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman on CCTV issues and Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary (and Misguided Fool), 2001

  29. Mike Bell


    With CCTV cameras wathing out for vandalisation of speed cameras, how long will it be until those CCTV cameras are being monitored?

    Reminds me of the Infinite Cat Project

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Jason Clery
    Thumb Down


    CCTV works when there is a control centre which monitors the cameras, and then can dispatch the (limited numbers) police to the scene of trouble. This of course means there still need to be enough police at least 2 minutes or closer to the scene of trouble. Unfortunately CCTV is now sued to gather evidence after the fact, rather than to prevent the fact.

  32. saxsux


    "Make holding a driving licence mandatory [...] to prove your age"

    Why not substitute the words "driving license" for "ID card"?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why not make pubs back into places adults can go and enjoy themselves ?

    No kids, allow smoking (if the landlord permits it) and you might see a lot less trouble from teenagers. But I forget, all this hassle is just the New Labour way of shutting pubs down forever. Work and home are the only places they want us to be - actively producing and passively consuming.

  34. Steve

    @ Pub

    "No kids, allow smoking (if the landlord permits it) and you might see a lot less trouble from teenagers."

    18 and 19 year olds (who are legally adults) are the only teenagers allowed into pubs and they only make up a small fraction of the clientele. Are you seriously suggesting that they are the only ones causing trouble?

    You can be a wanker at any age and people don't suddenly stop being wankers on their 20th birthday.

  35. John


    { "Make holding a driving licence mandatory [...] to prove your age"

    Why not substitute the words "driving license" for "ID card"?}

    Because you won't want to loose your driving licence :O)

    and the PC parade don't want 'ID cards' although We already carry lots of them! so make better use of the ones we already have.

  36. kain preacher


    "Make the alcohol manufacturers partially responsible financially for damage, injury and death as a result of drinking"

    WHy stop there lets make they auto makes responsible for car accidents no mater. Because some is a twat, misuse my product in a way that breaks the law I'm at fault. Thats just stupid .

  37. Jimbob

    @Anton Ivanov

    "Anyone caught shitfaced beyond recognition faces mandatory toxicology assessment followed by reporting the fact that you have been documented to have a serious substance abuse problem to the employer. From there on it is just a standard gross misconduct and/or "putting the company into disrepute" case."

    You are of course assuming that they have a job. I'd bet that most of the drunken chavers you see rolling around the street on a Friday and Saturday night don't have a job or don't have one that they care about.

    Personally I'd like to see them all castrated before they've had the chance to breed (which is by 14 years old in most cases) - it's the only way to make sure.

  38. Lesley B

    CCTV can be useful

    CCTV won't prevent the violent behaviour that occurs in most towns on a Friday night.

    However, Sheffield City council streams their traffic camera output to the web.

    This provided incredibly useful information during and immediately after the floods

    enabling me to estimate what routes were open and whether sites were accessible

    without putting myself at risk or in need of the already stretched emergency services.


  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More government control needed!

    After outlawing self defence, the scofflaws have only gotten more aggressive?

    Say it's not so!

    The threat of being recorded not enough to stop drunken crowds of youths from curbstomping a hapless passersby, perhaps allowing their victims a reasonable means of self defence once more. "Jumping up and down" hasn't worked either, unless you can run faster than that rabble.

    So perhaps a Glock 19 would. It would also deter young thugs from shooting people for their fancy cell phones. Bobbies are too heavy to carry, and quite frankly it's no comfort to the victim's family to watch their loved one's last moments on CCTV.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @kain preacher

    but a car can also be used to transport someone between two places.

    there arent many uses for pub drinks except to fry your brain. well, infact i cant think of any other uses.?

    oh, maybe you could use one as a projectile in a fight, or as a kind of shank.

  41. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down


    Frankly, if you drive in a bus lane, you deserve everything you get. Where do people get this odd idea that "motorist" should mean "person allowed to break whatever laws he likes and get away with it on the basis of half-assed 'everyone else is doing it' self-justification"?

    Actually, enforcement of not-driving-in-bus-lanes (and high-occupancy lanes) is one of the few *sensible* uses of CCTV I can think of. Easily the most cost-efficient way to scupper those arseholes who think that owning a car gives them a God-given right to screw with the transportation needs of others (who are satisfying them in a far less selfish manner, too).

  42. ElFatbob

    A mix of solutions?

    My tuppenceworth on solutions that could work (mostly based around reducing supply):

    Raise drinking age to 21. Impossible?, well, they've raised the age of smokers in Scotland to 18.

    Massive extra police presence in city centres Thurs / Fri / Sat / Sun paid for by a levy on the pubs / clubs. The police have a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour & the publicans either raise their prices or go out of business.

    Ban sale of alcopops and the cheap industrial alcohol masquerading as high strength cider / fortified wine entirely.

    Reduce the number of licences available to supermarkets.

  43. David

    Stick em all in....

    The army, where battle hardened sgts will beat the living out of them with big sticks.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Of course if the 'Government' had everything their way...

    Britain would be the first police state without any actual Police anywhere to be seen

  45. Charles Manning

    Perception != reality

    CCTV does not really discourage pissed crims. It does however give the hand-wringing populace some warm fuzzy feeling that they're being protected.

    From the perspective that they make the citizens feel safe, CCTV works.

  46. Adam Foxton
    Paris Hilton

    @Karl Lattimer & ElFatbob

    Seconded (or thirded, I suppose...) on the "get rid of alcopops" idea. While too much alcohol can lead to a proprensity for violent behaviour, alcohol plus a suger rush is 10 times worse.

    But then where do you draw the line? a ban on Vodka and Cola? No cocktails? Just allowing straight spirits/wine/beer? How about getting rid of the not-even-drain-cleaner quality drink?

    CCTV should be upgraded with decent cameras so that they can be used in court. That way, they'd actually be useful stopping thieves. Not as good as more beat cops, but still useful.

    Paris icon because of her frequent resemblance to a world where CCTV has stopped drunk theft; our streets would be drunk and nicker-less.

  47. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Battle Royale

    I say give them 3 chances (yes i know thats incredibly lenient but i doubt there's a person here who hasnt done at least one thing stupid when drunk) except with violent behaviour (if your violent straight on the boat!) ship them to some remote uninhabited shetland/orkney island & make them fight it out ala Battle Royale, etc. Last man standing gets to return to the mainland.

    Would quickly reduce the number of violent drunks out there and people doing stupid things whilst drunk and make the rest of our lives a hell of a lot better. (and it would reduce the cost of maintaining prisons!)

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Pubs liable

    The weird thing is that this problem is a British one, nowhere in the world do you have this kind of problem - maybe because in other countries, the pub is liable and gets the shit! They are not allowed to serve you up to a certain point, when you start looking a bit tipsy, they stop serving you booze .... and no way can you get another glass ...

  49. Spleen


    The idea that 20-somethings in Europe spend their evenings sipping wine slowly and talking about art is bollocks. I'm not sure I've ever drunk more in one night than when I went out with friends in Europe. The European way is drinking strong lager in small glasses and being continually refreshed by waiters, and it's a recipe for getting very drunk very fast without knowing you're doing it. None of the waiters even hesitated to keep serving us. If we'd started causing trouble or vomiting on their property I expect we would have been ejected, but I doubt that even in the worst nightclub in Britain you could get away with that without being taken outside and taught a lesson in decency by the bouncers.

    Needless to say, none of us did cause trouble either there or on the way home because none of us were of that temperament, even sans inhibitions.

    I'd like to see alcopops disappear, probably just like everyone else apart from those who drink them. Oh, and rapists. Nonetheless, it's their right to drink what they want. They don't go around trying to ban ale because they find it warm and sludgy, so I don't go around trying to ban what they like. If it causes them to assault somebody, prosecute them for assault. I fear authoritarians and their useful idiots trying to ban everything far more than I fear some gently swaying yob shouting incomprehensible obscenties at me on the way home.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    My tuppence worth

    I think that it would be very interesting to put feeds from all the street CCTV cameras on an internet site and publicise it.

    Six billion people from around the world potentially emailing and ringing up the authorities every second saying "There he goes! Look, he's over there! Wait, now he's there!"

    Six billion potential witnesses to crimes on our soil, six billion potential eyes scouring the 'great unwashed' for signs of dubiousness.

    Oh, and I want all convicted paedophiles and rapists shot dead.

  51. D
    Thumb Up


    "ship them to some remote uninhabited shetland/orkney island & make them fight it out ala Battle Royale, etc. Last man standing gets to return to the mainland."

    Alpha Chav would then return to his chav estate after seeing off all his local male rivals and would have a clear field to impregnate all the local chavettes. In just three or four generations we would have a new generation of super chav's selectively bred to provide maximum thrills CCTV drunken boxing entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights for the populace.

  52. Robert Harrison

    National service...

    Or some such (not that I'm that old) but something.. anything to teach these Saturday night muppets some respect for community, its people and property.

    Oh wait.. Community no longer exists.

    Not that there is an easy answer but perhaps we need to figure out why it is that our nation seems to have the dirtiest record of drunken violent benders (both at home and abroad) above other nations?

    @Of course if the 'Government' had everything their way...

    @Simon Goodwin re: CCTV in the home

    @Pubs - By Alan

    You three above scare me with the similarity of our trains of thought. You can bet that if some more MPs and their 'old boy' chums were resident anywhere near the bedlam that occurs in town centres, more would be done to resolve/understand the problem. As it is, when you live in a nice reserved large home in a quiet village, the problems of town centre, and surrounding, life seem so far away...

  53. andy gibson

    Maybe it would deter

    if once caught on CCTV and tracked down and arrested and given a substancial prison sentence rather than a caution or fine, they WOULD become a deterrent.

  54. Graham Bartlett


    You've not been abroad much, have you? I'm not a massive traveller, but I've been on a fair few holidays abroad, generally avoiding the tourist traps, and spent a bit of time working in the States and Canada too. And I can report that not only do some younger people get just as wasted as over here, they're equally likely to do stupid stuff.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Throwing in 0.02c

    I agree with part of Adam Foxtons post above, getting rid of things that normal, everyday, non-chavbos might like to partake in, be it alco-pops or whatever, seems to punish the collective for the idiocy of the few.

    I like the idea of punishing the offender rather than the general public but these days, any kind of punishment to the offender themselves is akin to giving them one of those oversized baseball caps with the tags still on embroided with "Im da man!" or some such all over it.

    To that end, why not punish the offender and those closest to him? Maybe dock his parent/s wages or welfare cheques. Hell, why not dock their uncles/aunties wages as well. Cut off the heating in their council flat for a month or impound all their cars for xx months. These sorts of kids usually have fairly scary units for parents and relatives, who better than to dish out some "tough love" than a mum on the poverty border line who has just had her welfare docked thanks to her moron son getting another ASBO?

    Paris cos this is my first time "on camera" so to speak.

  56. Alex

    They may be too drunk to realise the consequences

    So make sure they know the consequences before getting drunk. If they know they are going to be severely punished they won't do the crime. Look how rare heckling at Labour party conferences or upsetting the Welsh on TV is becoming.

    AIUI you are more likely to be locked up for not paying your council tax than beating someone senseless. £150 fine for assualting a Police officer, thats hardly going to deter a drunken reveller make it a month's wages or Benefits.

    If you can't lock them up then get them up at 5 am to clean the puke from the streets or even better pop them in the cells for a night (you have to make sure they don't drown in their own vomit or die from their wounds) and after a cold shower in the morning give them overalls so they can do it with a hangover. They can go home in their disposable overalls so everyone can see they have slept it off in the cells. Obviously charge them for the overalls & accomodation, benefit witholding & credit cards accepted.

    If they don't turn up for cleaning duty pop round and arrest them at work, or stop their benefits.

    Make the Pubs responsible for behaviour and noise, shut a few vertical drinking establishments down to encourage the others, use CCTV evidence to prove drunken louts spent a considerable amount of time in a licensed premises and that they failed to monitor their clientele. Those old enough will remember the litter from fast food joints covering our streets, once the restaurants became liable the problem was severely reduced.

    Revoke approvals for any drinks clearly aimed at youngsters, whilst not every Lager lout is under 25 is a I'm guessing many are.

    Replace the CCTV cameras with high resolution versions, the technology is available to get high quality video down almost any cabled video system and it is relatively cheap. More successful prosecutions will reduce offences and save money. Video & Audio analysis would reduce the need for cameras to be watched, most trouble is normally accompanied by load shouting or laughter and a crowd just watch for peaks of noise. Add feedback to the cameras, e.g. a bright spotlight that shines on the offenders so they disperse, maybe the high frequency dispersal system as well.

    Zero tolerance works, if at the first sign of trouble a van load of cops turn up and make sure the offenders are prosecuted severely then word spreads. Then at least the offenders will take their punch ups & bad behaviour to deserted areas as we did when we were younger, many confrontations will dissipate before the protaganists get to a suitable venue.

  57. toby
    Thumb Down

    My opinion on this

    CCTV is a waste of money and electricity...and nobody likes being watched.

    The root of all evil is NOT is education.

    Even if all drinks were for free, only idiots would drink until they also cheap drinks are not the problem.

    The problem is the legal age of drinking - it should be lowered to 16 to achieve a responsible drinking behaviour.

    If the legal age is a lot higher then the real age, people learn to drink from youngesters the same age and not from their parents.

    The parents could teach their children how to drink France and Germany, there are not that many problems with alcohol as in the UK, although the legal age is 14 (wine etc in France) and 16 (beer) and there have never been any closing times.

    It is all about educating your children properly. This is the same with violence and aggressive behaviour.

    Instead of watching everyone, what about controlling whats on tv and on the cinemas a bit more? There are so many films and movies involving violence - and children will think it is cool to destroy things .......

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality Check

    To all you who want to ban alco-pops.... I'm 38, and pretty much drink alco pops and nothing else. Never really liked the bitter taste of beers or lagers for my sweet tooth.... and, strangely, when passing the chavs in our area it's ALWAYS either cheap wine or cheap lager that they drink. Like any self-respecting hard kid would be seen with a WKD in their paws? Time to ban lager IMO. Although I can see your point. There were NEVER any fights before alcopops came along, and every thug in every bar has given up lager for them. Obviously.

    Oh, and despite there being numerous camera's covering our town, I'll be damned if I'll trust them to make me feel safer.....they don't.

    About time Pubs realised their responsibility in NOT serving someone who is already intoxicated - but that would hurt profits, wouldn't it? Can't be having that........

  59. Sam

    Adjust the booze, not the cameras.

    Drunks in town centres will always cause trouble, so stop them getting so drunk.

    Instruct all town centre drinking establishments to water their drinks as the evening goes on.

    Once you get down to 1% alcohol content I defy any moron to get drunk enough to matter.

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