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Big Brother is watching you. How many CCTVs in Britain?

Updated on June 19, 2013

CCTVs are watching over us virtually everywhere: from every street corner, supermarkets, lifts, office buildings, shopping centres, schools, car parks, bus and train stations, airports, bars and restaurants. There is no privacy on the train, in a lift, in shops, in kid's classrooms, not even in school bathrooms.

The UK has an out of control surveillance culture, which is doing little to improve public security but has made our life the most watched in the world. It was found recently with Transport for London that nine in ten cameras are not used by the police.

There are no official or estimated statistics on the definite number of CCTV cameras in Britain since there is no government body to collect this information.

Some facts about surveillance cameras in the UK:

  • There are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain (2002). One CCTV camera for every 14 citizens (David Davis, 2008).
  • Britain possesses 20% of the world's CCTV cameras, despite it has just 1% of the world’s population.
  • The average Londoner is caught on camera 300 times every day.
  • On average, each secondary schools in UK has 25 cameras.
  • Automatic number-plate recognition cameras were installed on Britain's major road and in town centres to watch in real time and log 90% of vehicle journeys.

Recent years see a shift from the use of analogue to digital equipment which drives the quality of the images the cameras capture.

  • Manufacturer's figures suggest there are 129,300 High Definition CCTV cameras in the UK by the end of 2012. The HD CCTV Alliance has predicted that number would rise to over 3.7 million by 2016.

CCTV cameras are operated by public bodies such as councils, commercial companies, and by individuals.

  • The cost to local councils of their CCTV operations are £515 million in the past four years. There are at least 51,600 CCTV cameras controlled by local authorities, with five councils operates more than 1,000 cameras.


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    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      5 years ago from Northern California

      Hi elfear,

      George Orwell's famous dystopian novel, 1984, was prescient about Britain's modern surveillance society. On the other hand, the cameras are doing a great job of catching drunks who urinate on public streets.

      Informative hub. Voted up.

    • elfear profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      maybe the only 'private' place is at home, when you close the curtains.

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Scary to think you are truly never alone. I, personally, don't like the loss of privacy and freedom.


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