ALA cautions that death should not lead to the overuse of surveillance

29th Sep 2012

“The greater use of surveillance cameras by the Victorian Police and local government, as announced by Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu today, will not necessarily improve the detection of crime and comes with serious policy implications attached,” Australian Lawyers Alliance director and Criminal Barrister, Greg Barns, said.

“The tragic death of Jill Meagher has obviously focussed the Victorian Government on the use of CTV cameras as a potential tool to fight crime, but the global experience shows that greater use of such cameras does extremely little in reducing offence rates,” Mr Barns said.

“For example, one UK study reported that in London surveillance cameras are only useful in resolving one crime for every 1000 cameras.

"Further, there are major privacy and other human rights implications in the higher use of surveillance cameras by police in Victoria,” he said.

“Again, focussing on the global experience, there have been a number of cases of police using such technology to profile particular groups in the community and to surveil the movements of individuals who have committed no crime. There have also been cases in the US and the UK where access to surveillance camera footage results in breaches of privacy.”

Mr Barns said the ALA shared with every Victorian the horror felt about the circumstances of the death of Jill Meagher, however it was important that policy in the criminal justice area was only formulated after discussion about the pros and cons of initiatives and a full examination of the potential impact of introducing such policies on the liberties of ordinary Victorians.

Tags: Human rights Victoria Criminal justice