Public use of CCTV has been a highly controversial topic in recent years, with mixed emotions about their purpose, effectiveness and the fear of ‘Big Brother’ watching your every move.  However, there seems to be a growing number of circumstances where CCTV has proven to be for the benefit of ordinary individuals as well as the public at large.

Take the recent reports on the brutish manner in which a 62 year-old man was man-handled off a train and then held face-down on the floor for 9 minutes.  This unpleasant incident was caught on CCTV last year, and without it perhaps the Authorised Officers responsible would have gotten away scot-free.

Worrying Trend?

Worryingly, this is not the first incident of its kind, nor is it a rarity.  The Age reported that around 10 million so called “contacts” occur every year between Authorised Officers and the general public.  All of this begs the question: do the public need CCTV on public transport in order to feel safe?

Why CCTV SHOULD be installed

There may very well be a valid argument that says – yes.  Not only would CCTV on public transport help keep members of the public safe from acts of excessive force, muggings or other violent crime; but it would also surely have a positive impact on vandalism, anti-social behaviour, and the harassment and abuse of staff.

Of course, CCTV’s main benefit is as a deterrent – if people know they are being watched – they’re less likely to behave badly.  However, sometimes acting as a deterrent isn’t enough, and if things get out of hand, it’s good to know that you’re covered.  After all, with the video footage available showing exactly how much force was used against the elderly man back in March last year – it’s hard not to feel a sense of relief that at least those responsible can’t wriggle their way out of it.  The scary part is that without the footage, the investigation would have had to rely on written statements – and who would you be more inclined to believe?  Multiple Authorised Officers, alleging assault and drunken behaviour or the lone voice of a frail, old man who would have been confused by what was happening to him?

So, back to the original question; would having CCTV on public transport make you feel safer?  Probably.