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How many CCTV Cameras are there in the UK?

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Do you ever get the feeling that you’re being watched? In a majority of places, you are.

Most private businesses have CCTV cameras, recording every customer that walks through the door, and they’re becoming increasingly popular with homeowners for home security as well. When you’re out and about, you’re likely to pass dozens – if not hundreds – of individual cameras each day

Your local top-chain fast food restaurant is likely to have upwards of 20 different cameras trained on public areas and behind-the-scenes areas at one time. Most shops have, at the very least, a camera watching their door. Usually, you’re also being watched in every aisle.

Many people believe that they’re being watched by the government out on the streets, but in fact, a majority of UK CCTV cameras are on private properties.

A 2013 Freedom of Information Request revealed that there were more than 15,500 cameras in use on the London Underground network. Another FOI Request in 2011 found that the UK was home to almost 5,000 ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras installed over UK roads – by now, that number is likely to have at least doubled. Big Brother Watch made a separate Freedom of Information Request back in 2009, finding that local authorities claimed to own and operate a total of more than 59,000 UK CCTV cameras. No matter how you travel, there will be CCTV cameras keeping an eye on you.

– So, exactly how many CCTV cameras are there in the UK?

Nobody knows. It’s impossible to say exactly how many CCTV cameras are installed on each property, and the number is constantly changing anyway.

A full survey would be unrealistic, and out of date almost as soon as it started. That said, a 2013 study by the British Security Industry Association made an informed estimate that there were roughly 6 million CCTV cameras in Britain alone and that the number of cameras on private property was roughly 70 times higher than the number of cameras installed by public bodies. Again, the numbers are likely to have increased significantly since 2013.

If we applied the common “one camera for every 14 people” as used here, it would mean that there are 4.7 million CCTV cameras in the UK – but we also think this applies mostly to city centres.

None of us know how many times we’re being caught on camera each day, though it’s certainly a high enough figure to help Scotland Yard with more than 95% of all murder investigations!

CCTV camera observation may make us feel uncomfortable, but those cameras are keeping you safe and helping to reduce – and solve – crimes.

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