CCTV’s crucial role in solving Sarah Everard’s disappearance emerged on Saturday with new details of how police caught one of their own.
Detectives looking for Everard have revealed that analyzing thousands of hours of CCTV footage allowed them to piece together the 33-year-old’s final moments as she returned home to south London – as well as helping to identify his murderer.
CCTV from a passing bus on March 3 enabled the breakthrough, capturing Everard standing next to a white car with the hazard lights flashing, a rental vehicle that was assigned to Police Officer Wayne Couzens.
Yet CCTV’s central role in resolving the case comes amid growing concern that the UK is sleepwalking towards a surveillance state with more cameras than any other European country. per inhabitant.
Analysis suggests there could be more than five million surveillance cameras in the UK – one for every 14 people – as the popularity of CCTV and home doorbell cameras increases amid what critics say claim to be a lack of regulation governing the technology.
According to them, this has helped London become one of the most watched cities in the world, with the average resident being filmed 300 times a day on CCTV.
Everard was caught on the owners’ doorbell cameras as she walked home, while dashcam footage also captured her in the back seat of the Vauxhall car rented by Couzens shortly after her abduction. .
Couzens’ movements were similarly tracked, with the murderer being filmed visiting a Tesco in west London shortly before arresting Everard. He was also caught on CCTV in the days that followed in various locations including DIY stores, gas stations and parking lots.
Police data indicated that CCTV can prevent an average of 16 per 100 crimes. Yet despite its success in the Everard case, experts were careful not to overestimate the technology’s ability to solve all crimes.
David Wilson, professor emeritus of criminology at Birmingham City University, said the technology had obvious limitations but was particularly suited to the Everard case.
“CCTV will only be useful if you are dealing with things outdoors,” he said. “And also, of course, if the CCTV is kept long enough.”
Wilson, who assists UK police forces with murder investigations, particularly serial killers, added: “CCTV is irrelevant to many crimes. But the nature of this affair, because it was on the outside, meant it made perfect sense. “
He said other technological solutions such as cellphone recordings and social media tended to be more effective in solving homicides.
Analysis of the cell phone site, in fact, placed Everard at a specific point on the South Circular just before 9:30 p.m. on the night of his disappearance. Because detectives could not see her on CCTV after that point, it was obvious that they had located the spot where she had disappeared.
Not everyone is convinced of the effectiveness of video surveillance for crime prevention. Although the UK government invested heavily in technology during the 1990s, a number of councils have recently reduced the use of their cameras due to a lack of funding.
Critics continue to worry about the number of CCTV cameras in the UK and the lack of regulation regarding their use.
The government surveillance minister has previously warned that surveillance technology – including body-worn video recognition and license plate systems – risks changing communities by reducing people to traceable numbers at a base of data.