Cushendall Deserves Better than a Spy Network

Is this the start of the Glens being Littered With Surveillance Cameras?

Despite claims by the PSNI, Private security firms and Camera Technology Companies, deterrence of crime has failed to be proved on the installation and operating of security or surveillance cameras in any given location.

Results, both numerical, quantitive and qualitive have failed to conclude that any benefit arises from the installation of spy equipment. But the name reflects the reality of what- in essence- is being proposed in the heart of the Glens.


A local Councillor requested security cameras be installed in the Cottage Wood site in Cushendall following recent anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the Council owned facility. To be fair, residents have complained for some time of the nuisance behaviour of a handful of young people in the area with a particular emphasis on the site.


When low-level crime is concentrated in an area, residents tend to request the installation of cameras as a preventative measure. It’s at this stage that we must engage the perils of this wish.


Spy/Surveillance cameras do not prevent crime. Perpetrators tend to cover themselves or move to an adjacent street or neighbourhood and continue to be a menace to local communities. This in turn leads to requests for additional cameras. The practise is known as the “displacement of crime”-leading to a proliferation of spy cameras.


The highest concentration of spy cameras anywhere in the world is in the city of London. Politicians in London lament the fact that after implementation of the spy system crime figures continued to rise. Modern cameras can read a text message on a mobile phone from 250 meters, identify a face from half a mile and can now even help Police to detect a criminal before a crime has been committed. That is the claim!!



Infrared and other sensory technologies can help cameras quite literally see through walls nowadays. Camera surveillance in built up areas threaten privacy and civil liberties and ever more often challenge our understandings of what is public and what is private in our expectations on privacy.


But does a more sinister reason for the cameras introduction exist? Given the historic and proud legacy of the people of the Glens, anyone could have an educated guess. People must ask themselves, who operates the cameras? What is done with the recordings? Who catches site of the filming? What links do they facilitate with organisations like MI5?


While warning of the dangers of installing cameras in the Glens, it does not address the root of the anti-social behaviour or vandalism. New ways of addressing these problems inherent in all small towns and villages throughout the Island must be explored. Investment in youth is also a key and proven advantage in tackling this type of crime. Moyle Council recently agreed with my proposal to support the new youth facilities at Saint Aloysius by setting aside £70k. Communities could look at different models of “Community Watch” schemes. The alternative is permanent and is almost impossible to reverse when implemented.

The town of Ballycastle followed a similar path and now has a network of cameras scanning its citizens with no tangible results on crime prevention being delivered. On nearly all occasions, residents who have been the victims of crime refer to the many cameras only to be told, they weren’t working, or, we can’t identify who did it. What they will receive is a report number and instructions on how to claim from their insurance. Meanwhile the cameras maintain their watch-for who’s benefit?  Surely Cushendall deserves better!



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