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CCTV: a technology under the radar?

Kroener, I.; (2010) CCTV: a technology under the radar? Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have become a ubiquitous feature of everyday life in the UK over the last thirty years. In this thesis I undertake an examination of the historical, political, social, economic, and technological factors, influencing the development, usage, and widespread dissemination of CCTV in the UK. I focus on the issue of why the UK has become so camera-surveilled, and especially the specific role that the public has played in relation to the development and use of the technology. I examine the historical factors through an analysis of the development of surveillance, policing, and political change, during the 20th and early 21st centuries, and early and contemporary uses of CCTV, situating this in the wider context of a history of the criminal justice system. I also look at the media and policy context in which CCTV has developed and become widespread, with this element of the thesis particularly informed by an analysis of the way in which the public are constructed. Next, I carry out an empirical study exploring public engagement and consultation in relation to, and feelings towards, the installation of CCTV onto two estates in East London as part of a project to expand access to digital services in London. Finally, I give an overview of international experiences of CCTV providing a broader context for the final analysis. I argue that the lack of legislation and regulation at the time of the inception of CCTV allowed its subsequent and rapid proliferation. The initial growth of CCTV also occurred at a time when public debate and engagement in science and technology policy did not take place. Its use as a tool for crime prevention was cemented by a police force looking for a shoulder to share the burden of fighting crime. This coupled with an availability of public money for the installation of CCTV systems, the need for a political solution to rising levels of crime, and an apparently passive public, formed the ideal environment for the rise of CCTV.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: CCTV: a technology under the radar?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19711
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