Crime fighting with CCTV
On Wednesday, April 8, 2015 The Japan Times English-language newspaper printed the story “Man held in Takasaki acid attacks on women” on page two of its print edition. (Takasaki is a city in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo.) It concerned the arrest of a 30-year-old unemployed male suspect in a case of throwing sulfuric acid on a woman in that city during the week of March 30-April 3. The police were led to the suspect by local security surveillance camera images that showed him carrying a black bag and “acting suspiciously.”
Acid attacks are a crime most commonly heard from India, where spurned lovers throw acid to disfigure the faces of women. In the Gunma case in Japan only the woman’s legs were burned. Some internet comments hailed the beneficial effects of Closed-circuit television cameras in fighting crime and boosting feelings of security among the public. But the presence of security cameras does nothing at all to instill in me feeling of security nor a sense of peace. Mostly I feel resentment at having my photograph taken all the time, in buildings, in taxis, buses, trains, on the street, etc. It doesn't matter if the suspicious man caught on CCTV is the real perpetrator or not. He might be. He might confess it - of his own volition or through the usual police extortion. In Japan the most important thing is that it appears the culprit is apprehended, and it appears the authorities are hard at work. Appearance trumps substance, and activity is a substitute for achievement. Incidentally, confession by itself is meaningless since we are all free to say almost anything we want with impunity. Saying it, confessing it doesn't make it true.
The presence of security cameras does nothing at all to instill in me feeling of security nor a sense of peace. Mostly I feel resentment at having my photograph taken all the time.
Tellingly, the article's use of the word "while" makes it sound as if the damage to property (women's clothing) is a more serious crime than injury to the female victims. The victims' injuries are being lightly passed off as "relatively minor" while damage to their clothes is dangled before us as the greater outrage.