CCTV: the new frontier of parking enforcement

If you’re concerned for the protection of your civil liberties, you probably have doubts about CCTV on a blanket basis. You may be unconvinced by the argument that CCTV prevents or helps to detect crime, and view it more as an infringement upon your privacy than as a legitimate method of surveillance.

Even if you’re willing to accept CCTV in certain circumstances, however, you’re likely to be perturbed by the extent to which its use is being extended to cover the most minor misdemeanours. This article from the BBC details some of the silliest applications of CCTV, including prosecuting people who drop litter or fail to clean up after their dogs.

While it’s undeniable that such activities constitute a minor irritation, the use of CCTV to police them seems ludicrously excessive. It creates the impression that our every activity is subject to surveillance and punishment by the authorities if we step out of line.

More seriously, it erodes the social fabric that binds us together. Our natural inclination to take responsibility for ourselves stems from a collective understanding that we will face social sanctions if we fail to do so. By abdicating that function to government and other authority figures, we disempower ourselves and give such figures disproportionate influence upon our lives .

That carries huge risks. When we disown our sense of personal authority, we invite whoever is willing to fill that void to determine the standards of behaviour we find acceptable.

Next time you see a CCTV camera trained upon a bus lane or a public park, you can reflect upon the deeper significance of a society in which we rely upon an external force to determine our laws, and resolve to resist being subjecting to its control!

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