Today’s Editorial for June 07: CCTV a necessary evil

The Caymanian Compass has already
received comments from people who are leery about the police and staff at the
911 Emergency Communications Centre having viewing access to more than 300
closed-circuit televisions that are scheduled to be placed in locations across
Grand Cayman.

Giving this type of surveillance
powers to a government entity seems to some people reminiscent of Big Brother,
the fictional all-seeing character in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen
Eighty-Four. 

Although Deputy Chief Officer Eric
Bush has assured that in order to protect civil liberties, a code of practice
will guide the usage of CCTV until the necessary laws are in place, the truth
is there are no guarantee that some law-abiding citizens might not have their
privacy infringed upon.

In and ideal world, CCTV wouldn’t
be necessary because there wouldn’t be enough crime to warrant their purchase
and because if crimes were committed, the offenders would be easily caught;
after all, on an island as small as Grand Cayman, someone has to know who
commits the serious crimes.

However, Grand Cayman in 2010 is
far from an ideal world and we believe CCTV is a necessary evil here,
especially when so many residents adopt a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no
evil’ philosophy when it comes to telling officials what they know about crimes
that have been committed.

CCTVs see what they see and more
importantly, reveal what they see.  CCTVs
don’t have any friends or relatives to protect. CCTV tapes don’t have faulty
memories and don’t change their evidence when taken to court to face an
accused.

The availability of CCTV could
prove an invaluable tool to police in their efforts to solve crimes.  In addition, just the knowledge that so many
cameras are out there potentially watching should act as a deterrent for
criminal activity.

Yes, there is the possibility a
CCTV camera could be inadvertently or improperly pointed at a home, allowing
someone monitoring the system to see inside. However, people have the ability
to close their blinds or curtains.  Those
kinds of window treatments are far more preferred than some others, like the
steel bars seen in Third World, crime-infested countries throughout the region.