Road with 100 cameras is plagued by crime

London Telegraph | July 11, 2007
By Martin Beckford

A crime-ridden high street in north London has been branded the most spied-upon road in Britain, after it emerged that it is watched over by more than 100 closed circuit television cameras.

In one 650-yard section of Holloway Road, that runs from Archway to Highbury Corner, there are 29 cameras mounted on shops and lampposts, a church and a courtroom.
There are 102 CCTV cameras monitoring crime on the two-mile road, as well as a further seven checking for speeding cars and vehicles straying into bus lanes. 

Civil liberties groups are alarmed by the number of opportunities for the state to watch people in Holloway Road, particularly as they claim surveillance cameras do not always help to reduce crime. 

Mark Dziecielewski, of Watching Them Watching Us, said: "Politicians like cameras because they are seen to be doing something but, just like you see birds perched on scarecrows, the hoodies and dealers come back once the novelty has worn off.

"Having so many cameras in one place actually makes police investigations harder because they have to divert so much manpower into checking footage from every single camera."

A number of murders and other serious crimes have taken place in and around Holloway Road despite its dozens of CCTV cameras. Last month, 14-year-old Martin Dinnegan was knifed to death outside a chip shop yards from Holloway Road, while two years ago Richard Whelan was fatally stabbed as he sat on the top deck of a bus travelling along the road.

At the time, police disclosed there had been 430 offences committed over six months on Holloway Road, including 29 serious assaults, 15 robberies and 32 burglaries.

In 2004, 13-year-old Hakeem Johnston stabbed Noor Kasimi to death in a Holloway Road pizza shop where he worked, after being refused a £1 special offer. The road is also plagued by illegal cigarette sellers, while a Colombian cafe raided by police in 2003 was said to be central to a £200 million cocaine-smuggling cartel.

But some residents and shopkeepers along the road feel reassured by the presence of the CCTV cameras. Gillian Adam, an art dealer, said: "This can be a dangerous area, especially at night, so I think having so many cameras is a small price to pay."

Britain has 4.2 million CCTV cameras, one for every 14 people, more than in the rest of Europe put together.

In May Ian Redhead, the deputy chief constable of Hampshire, said: "Are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner? I really don't think that's the kind of country that I want to live in."