Kelowna has its second surveillance camera aimed at city streets. And unlike the first camera, which was installed by the RCMP, this camera is in private hands.
The Association has carefully considered the issue of video surveillance cameras in public spaces and is opposed to their installation. The BCCLA previously condemned the installation of such a camera by the RCMP in Carey Park, Kelowna, B.C.
The BCCLA found that one main objectives of public video surveillance—the reduction in crime—is not made out. “Where the police have had any effect at all in lowering crime, they have done so by getting out on the street, not by sitting around watching videos,” says BCCLA Board Member Dale Beyerstein.
The BCCLA also believes that the installation of this second camera in Kelowna demonstrates one of the dangers inherent in public video surveillance. Instead of crime being reduced by surveillance cameras, crime simply moves, one step ahead of the cameras. Then a new area experiences an increase in crime, calls for cameras, and the whole cycle repeats itself.
This cycle is already starting in Kelowna. After four months operation on the Queensway, the camera there is apparently displacing crime down to the corner of Bertram and Lawrence. “Where it will move is anyone’s guess,” says Beyerstein. “But we can be certain that innocent people will lose their privacy on these two street corners now. As crime moves, Kelowna residents will lose their privacy on those streets, unless Kelowna residents call a stop to the installation of cameras. It makes no sense to lose privacy, lose the tax dollars used for maintaining these cameras, and be no more safe on the streets.”
The installation of video surveillance cameras by private persons raises other concerns. The police’s collection, use and disclosure of video images is governed by federal and provincial privacy legislation. Video images captured on this private surveillance camera are not.
“Who will view these tapes? The owner of the camera? Their employees? Their friends?” asks Beyerstein. “Lots of people will be innocently doing things and going places within the view of these cameras. Although they won’t be embarrassed to do these things, they still don’t want them broadcast all over the place. But they no longer have a choice.”
The BCCLA continues to oppose plans by the RCMP in Kelowna to expand their unjustified video surveillance of ordinary citizens using public spaces.
The BCCLA’s position on Video Surveillance in Public places can be read here>>