CCTV – Police

After my incident on Argyle Street a few weeks ago, the matter’s been in the hands of the police. Given the location of where it happened, and the number of CCTV cameras in place, I was told by officers that it was almost a certainty that there would be footage of it actually happening.

Of course, as you may have been able to predict, I received a call today to explain that none of the many private cameras in shops had anything available, and the public cameras were facing in a different direction.

Part of me is relieved to avoid having to go through the full legal procedure, but part of me is angry. The direction the cameras were pointing in would have caught the two guys who assaulted me walking down the street, and let police at least identify who they were. As for evidentiary purposes, there was plenty of people around to act as witnesses, and my own statement, plus Kaylie’s (who was with me) would fulfil the requirement for corroboration required by Scots Law.

I can’t help but think that if I had been someone of ‘importance’ that these avenues would have been pursued further. We can probably safely assume that had the same thing happened to a politican, then a little more effort would be put in to the investigation than just checking a couple of CCTV cameras.

I’m aware of the arguments to justify that sort of approach with regards to public policy, but a system where those most likely to be attacked are the lowest priority seems a strange and unequal one.

Further than that, it makes me question what the role of policing and camera surveillance in this situation actually is. Do the requirements of corroboration and evidentiary procedures under Scots Law mean that we rely far too much on CCTV evidence, to the extent that where it does not exist, a conviction is unlikely, and investigations cease? Does our criminal justice system rely solely on a camera facing the right direction at the right time? Is it a consequence of our stringent standards for prosecution that we have such a proliferation of close-circuit monitoring?

Whatever the answers to these questions, the experience doesn’t do a whole lot for my already damaged confidence in the police.

Maybe if the fellow in question had smashed in the window of a shop to steal a pair of trainers there would be more of an impetus to hunt him down and throw him behind bars for a disproportionate amount of time. After all, we all know that the protection of property is more important than the defence of the person.


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