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How many CCTV Cameras are there in London 2020?
In London there is 1 CCTV Camera for every 14 people, meaning there are now 627,707 CCTV Cameras in London (2020)
How we came to calculate how many CCTV cameras are in London in 2020.
London is one of the most heavily monitored cities on earth with some of the most surveillance cameras per head of population in the developed world. London is often referred to as the CCTV capital of the world, but does the number of surveillance cameras in use in the capital back up that claim?
Officially reported figures only tell part of the story of just how many cameras are in operation overseeing the streets of London. For such a tightly regulated industry – the UK has some of the toughest privacy laws in the world – there isn’t an exact figure for how many CCTV cameras there are in the capital.
The vast majority of CCTV cameras are operated by private individuals and businesses rather than government bodies and such privately operated closed-circuit TV cameras must only be logged with the Information Commissioner’s Office if they’re not used for domestic purposes such as monitoring the security of property.
So with no comprehensive register of CCTV cameras in operation, it can be difficult to say accurately how many are in use within the sprawling city of London.
Estimating the number of CCTV cameras in London
An early survey by McCahill and Norris in 2002 estimated that were around 500,000 surveillance cameras in use in Greater London.
The methodology used to ‘guesstimate’ that figure is now considered to be flawed as it was based on a small sample in one London borough – Putney- and extrapolated. So could the true figure be higher than half a million?
CCTV cameras in London operated by government bodies
CCTV cameras are used by a host of government bodies and we know how many some of them operate.
For example, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in 2013 revealed that Transport for London operated 15,516 cameras across the London Underground network. A similar request in 2018 to the City of London Police revealed that the force had 110 surveillance cameras in use.
A 2011 survey, by civil liberties and privacy campaign group, Big Brother Watch, again using FOI requests, found that the City of London Council operated 651 CCTV cameras. There are 33 across boroughs across London and a 2009 BBC survey found there were 7,431 surveillance cameras deployed by all of the councils in Greater London.
CCTV cameras operated by private owners in London
In its 2015 report, “The Picture Is Not Clear: How Many CCTV Surveillance Cameras Are There in the UK?”, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) suggested that camera numbers in the private sector could outnumber those used by public bodies by as much as 70 to 1.
The BSIA survey covered the whole of the UK, not just London, and its maximum estimate suggested there was a CCTV camera for every 11 people in the country though it said the most likely figure was closer to one for every 14 people.
We can use those figures and correlate them to the current population of London in order to estimate how many surveillance cameras there may be in the capital.
The latest official estimate of the population of London from the Office for National Statistics suggests the approximate number of people living in Greater London in 2019 is 8,787,892.
If there was one camera for every 14 people in London, that would put the number of CCTV cameras in use in the capital as 627,707. Use the figure of one for every 11 people, and an increase in the population and that number rises to almost 1,000,000 in 2025! Whatever the true figure, that’s a huge number of surveillance cameras watching the moves of the millions who live and work in London.
How many times are you on CCTV in London?
It is thought that an average person commuting to work and back with a 1hr lunch break walking around London may be captured on as many as 300 CCTV cameras during their standard working day. You are on CCTV on the street, the tube, workplace and shops.
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