Blogs and a Story Chain


Trafalgar SquareI came across a story, “London’s most wanted” by Ed Gottsman, posted yesterday on ZDNet‘s Between the Lines, one of the blogs I follow. It had to do with a report detailing the ineffectiveness of London’s 10,000 official CCTV cameras in solving crimes. I thought that this might interest some Slaw readers, but that it wasn’t so squarely up our alley (can that be right?) that it merited an entry, so I was simply going to post a link in the Slaw Linkblog to the report that gave rise to this article .

The ZDNet piece begins: “A recent report by the Liberal Democrats (a UK political party) on the London Assembly suggests…” But the link didn’t in fact lead to the report, but rather to a two month old Endgadget story, “CCTV overload in London not as effective as previously hoped?” by Darren Murph.

The first sentence of that story contains: “a new report put out by the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly suggests that…” and goes on to retail some facts but without any link to the report. At the bottom was “[via Wired].” Hmm.

Wired ran their story on this the same day as Endgaget. “CCTV Cameras Fail to Cut British Crime” by Charlie Sorrel contains four short paragraphs with the few figures that Endgadget cited, but nary a link to the actual report. Indeed, oddly, the word “report” never appears in this brief piece. But at the bottom there is: “Tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, yet 80% of crime unsolved [This is London]”

Oh, okay, so over the pond we go to the source, then: from the Evening Standard. Here are all the facts and figures. But — there is no link to the report.

Perhaps it’s not online. Because I’m now feeling stubborn, I decide to search for the authors, the London Assembly Liberal Democrats, find them, whereupon it’s easy enough to drill into their site to find:

A breakdown by London Borough of the number of CCTV cameras in the capital, together with details of the latest crime figures and clear up rates. NOTE that these figures only record the number of CCTV cameras owned and/or operated by the London Boroughs and do not reflect the ever growing number of privately run and owned CCTV cameras in London.

and a link to — ta da! — the report, which turns out to be 35 rows of 5 columns in an Excel file of data. (10,524 official cameras, as it happens, with the largest proportion in Hackney; if you’re camera-shy, head for Merton.)

Could’a should’a had this earlier and easier.

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