Don’t worry, we’ve got them on CCTV…

TV static CCTV is in the news again this week. Taking top billing is Coventry's random act of feline cruelty, which seems to have grabbed the attention of the British public far more than something like, say, the floods in Pakistan.

But today we have a new CCTV story that once again demonstrates why camera surveillance is not the silver bullet to crime reduction that your council, the police and, sadly, the Government will claim:

As the Daily Telegraph explains:

A suspected thief caught red-handed by police after being filmed trying to burgle a hotel has escaped justice because prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge him.

The 26-year-old was one of two hooded men captured on CCTV trying to break into a closed bar area after walking into the hotel.

Despite the incriminating CCTV footage and the fact the suspect was caught attempting to flee the attempted break-in, he did not leave any fingerprints behind which would have helped build the case.

Massimo Menin, general manager of the three star Hotel Rembrandt, said: "We are absolutely furious and dismayed at the decision.

"We have had break-ins in the past and have paid thousands of pounds on 16 CCTV cameras and trained all of our staff so it was quite satisfying when one of them was caught."

Note, of course, that the presence of CCTV did precisely nothing to dissuade the intruders from attempting their smash and grab in the first place. 

But perhaps of more importance is the complete failure of CCTV footage to provide sufficient evidence to charge the (alleged) intruder.

When CCTV systems go up, costing "thousands of pounds" and frequently millions of taxpayer pounds, we are reassured that criminals will be caught and we will be safer.

Although I sympathise with Mr Menin and hope that the intruders are captured; I also hope that the outcome of stories such as this one is that people are less willing to accept the state-sponsored myth that more cameras equals more safety.

By Dylan Sharpe