Can you avoid CCTV?

Each day the average Briton is caught on CCTV cameras about 300 times. We are the most watched nation in the world. But is there a way to avoid the cameras? ADAM LAZZARI reports on an attempt to travel from Cambridgeshire to Southend, incognito. ROSS Cla

Each day the average Briton is caught on CCTV cameras about 300 times. We are the most watched nation in the world. But is there a way to avoid the cameras? ADAM LAZZARI reports on an attempt to travel from Cambridgeshire to Southend, incognito.

ROSS Clark is frustrated at Britain's surveillance-obsessed society.

And he has cause to be concerned when you take a look at the figures.

According to The Royal Academy of Engineering, there are 4.2million CCTV cameras in Great Britain - roughly one for every 14 people.


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And while the UK has one per cent of the world's population, it has 20 per cent of its CCTV cameras, spending £500million installing them over the past decade.

Yet, there are more to come - the Government has set aside £150million for additional CCTV schemes.

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Every time you enter a high street, take out some money at an ATM or walk into a store (or even your place of work), your image and your movements are being recorded.

Can you avoid the ever watching eye of the CCTV camera? Mr Clark believed he should try, and set about a journey from his home in Reach: his destination Southend on Sea in Essex.

The aim was to get there and back without being filmed on CCTV.

It's a journey of just over 80 miles and, according to the AA's Route Finder service on the internet, should take just under two hours to reach Southend's famous pier.

But the quick route recommends using the motorway network - the M11 and the M25 before hoping onto the A127 and through to the coast.

However, the main roads are covered by many cameras and would need to be avoided.

"The trip took a lot of meticulous planning," said Mr Clark. "I couldn't stop at any petrol stations or have a mobile phone or GPS tracking device on me.

"I obviously avoided the main roads and had to work out where all the cameras are."

Mr Clark's plans and his route are detailed in a book he has written about his experiences, but was he successful?

Well, almost...

"I failed in my challenge because there are three cameras at the end of Southend pier," Mr Clark said. "I waved at them and I wrote to the local council asking if I could have a copy of the image but they wouldn't allow it.

"They said the footage was unclear and they couldn't verify if it was me or not."

According to Mr Clark, Home Office figures show that about 80 per cent of CCTV images recorded are of such a poor quality they are unusable.

Mr Clark added: "Almost a quarter of the world's CCTV cameras are in Britain. Money is being taken out of local policing and peoples' civil liberties are being compromised. But what is being achieved?"

He added: "I'm not a paranoid nutter or an anarchist. I just thought this stunt was a practical way of demonstrating the ridiculousness of our obsessive data-collecting society. The fact that the council couldn't give me a picture because the footage is too unclear sums it up quite well."

Mr Clark is a freelance journalist who has written for various national newspapers.

He has also written the book How to Label a Goat, which exposes bizarre rules and regulations which are blighting the lives of Britons today.

INFORMATION: The Road to Southend Pier: One man's struggle against the surveillance society is available now from most good bookshops.

FACT FILE:

# Croydon has more CCTV cameras than New York.

# London's Metropolitan Police has approximately 200,000 cameras installed around the capital.

# Almost every bank cash machine in the country uses CCTV to record each person making a transaction.

# Harrods London store has more than 500 CCTV cameras installed.

# The first CCTV camera in the UK was installed at Guy's Hospital, London in 1949.

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