Op-Ed: Big Brother is watching you — in the john

Posted Sep 12, 2012 by Alexander Baron
CCTV has been responsible for bringing many serious criminals, including murderers, to book. But even many of its more enthusiastic supporters believe surveillance should end at the toilet door.
Three surveillance cameras.
Three surveillance cameras.
We know big Brother is watching us, but who is watching Big Brother? The answer is many groups in many places, but three years ago, a dedicated Big Brother Watch was set up in Britain. Recently it reported that there are now over fifty thousand closed circuit television cameras controlled by local authorities, and more than 100,000 in secondary schools and academies across England, Scotland and Wales.
Parents might think this is a good thing, so might pupils, but should cameras be used in changing rooms and bathrooms as well? Whether or not they should be, they are.
This is in fact nothing new, certainly not for the adult world. There are a number of public toilets in Central London and other places which are known to be used by men of a certain type for purposes totally unrelated to the designated purposes of such buildings. These have long been under the watchful eye of the local plod and their cameras, and in some places notices have been put up to that effect.
Does this do any good, and if so, are the benefits outweighed other considerations? The picture below shows two year old James Bulger being led away by two ten year old boys who murdered him a crime that to this day shocks the nation.
An iconic CCTV still released by Merseyside Police. Two year old James Bulger is led away by ten yea...
An iconic CCTV still released by Merseyside Police. Two year old James Bulger is led away by ten year olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, shortly to be murdered.
Merseyside Police
Many people would argue that if CCTV brings the likes of Thompson and Venables to book, it is worth it. There can be no doubt either that CCTV does discourage crime, if not murder then certainly opportunist crimes and even planned ones such as burglaries.
The question remains though, do you want cameras watching your son, your daughter, or you, when answering a call of nature, or even showering at the swimming baths? And who, or what type of person, is going to be sitting on the other end of the camera?