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Big Brother Video security surveillance dubbed a failure

Cameras have failed to increase security in Thun

(Keystone)

The Swiss town of Thun has scrapped a video surveillance programme more than a year early as the poor quality of images collected and data protection restrictions rendered the cameras inefficient at boosting security on the streets at night.

The experiment in Thun, canton Bern, started in 2012 when eight cameras were installed in five public spaces to record activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The aim was to provide residents with greater safety and security.

The cameras were supposed to keep filming until 2017, but the results were apparently so poor that the town council decided to end the project early.

Images were so indistinct that they could not be used reliably for law enforcement purposes. "The effectiveness of video surveillance was very low," said Peter Siegenthaler, Thun council’s director of safety. The CHF15,000 ($15,500) price tag for installing better cameras was considered too expensive by the town authorities.

Furthermore, data privacy regulations meant the fixed cameras could only point in one direction and could not rotate. This gave troublemakers advance warning of exactly which areas to avoid to evade detection, the council concluded. Recordings also had to be deleted within 100 days by law.

The Thun authorities will now rely on extra police patrols and possible use of external security firms to ensure safety on the streets at night.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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