London is the most-surveilled city in Europe with around 630,000 cameras watching 9.6 million inhabitants in the UK capital, that’s 68 cameras per 1,000 Londoners.
People living in Paris, Madrid and Athens are surveilled far less with between 3 and 11 cameras per 1,000 people. In fact, London is one of the most heavily monitored cities globally ranking the sixth most surveilled after China.
Over the last 5 years the local government has invested an extra 20 million pounds on CCTV, which increased from 53 million in 2009/2010 to a staggering 71 million in 2013/2014.
One of the first recorded applications for closed-circuit television system was back in 1942 used to view the launch of V2 rockets in Germany. Since then CCTV has played a major role in public safety, helping to prevent and solve crime. The world’s first underground passenger railway opened in January 1863 a route which now crosses the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. Since it’s launch the tube network has expanded carrying 1.357 billion passengers across a network of 11 lines and 6 zones, collectively transporting up to 5 million people per day which makes it the world’s 11th busiest metro system.
CCTV has become part and parcel of everyday life with demand growing from government and businesses to homeowners installing devices worldwide. However does the high demand equate to a high level of security? We dug deeper into the most surveilled commuter boroughs in London to find the most and least protected journeys.
Our findings revealed that the daily commute is covered by 13,596 cameras which are in operation across the London Underground. The borough of Westminster have the most surveillance cameras with an estimated 1,565 in operation equating to a ratio of 163 people per CCTV camera, which services the boroughs 255,324 population. Commuters travelling through Brent, Camden, Ealing and Hammersmith are watched far more than those travelling in Harrow, Islington and Tower Hamlets with less CCTV cameras across the stations collectively.
Coverage isn’t spread so thinly in the City of London. Commuters regularly travelling through stations Liverpool Street, Bank and Moorgate are far more likely to be caught on camera with 1 to every 17 people, far more than for those travelling through Stanmore, Harrow & Wealdstone and Rayners Lane.
For those making use of the 24hr tube service which was introduced in 2016 servicing the Victoria, Central, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, Redbridge may be the line of choice. It is the 9th most surveilled borough made up of zone 4 Central Line tube stations, whilst those travelling through stations in Southwark on the Northern line are less likely to be recorded as it has 200 less CCTV cameras across it’s stations.
CCTV cameras per person on the London Underground
(Ratio = number of cameras : number of people)
|1. City of London||1 : 17|
|2. Westminster||1 : 163|
|3. Hammersmith & Fulham||1 : 253|
|4. Kensington & Chelsea||1 : 266|
|5. Camden||1 : 316|
|6. Brent||1 : 322|
|7. Epping Forest||1 : 383|
|8. Ealing||1 : 411|
|9. Hillingdon||1 : 416|
|10. Harrow||1 : 465|
Westminster, Brent and Camden may be the safest boroughs for travelling parents with the highest amount of surveillance whilst some of the least protected school run routes can be found in Islington, Harrow and the City of London.
The data also showed that Newham has 196,000 more people than Kensington & Chelsea however this didn’t equate to more protection. It has an estimated 300 less cameras servicing the boroughs stations than that of the royal borough.
Overall, commuters travelling through the west of London are recorded on camera far more than those travelling south of the river.