Will its network of closed circuit cameras bring to justice an unprecedented percentage of rioters? Or is all the lost privacy for naught?
For several years now, the British media have been telling us that theirs is a surveillance society. "It could be the 4 million closed-circuit television cameras, or maybe the spy drones hovering overhead, but one way or another Britons know they are being watched. All the time. Everywhere," Luke Baker wrote in a representative Reuters article published in 2007, going on to note that "Britain is now the most intensely monitored country in the world, according to surveillance experts, with 4.2 million CCTV cameras installed, equivalent to one for every 14 people."
As is now evident, CCTV cameras aren't sufficient to prevent rioters and looters from causing mayhem on the streets of London. But what's going to happen in the aftermath of the riots? "Britain turned to a tough reckoning with the perpetrators, with courts sitting through the night and the police saying Thursday that over 1,200 people had been arrested, the bulk of them in London," the New York Times reports. How many were identified due to surveillance cameras, as opposed to television footage, newspaper photographers, and social media? And what role will CCTV footage play in days to come?