CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who famously leaked classified information regarding NASA, stated: “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed thought.”
Netflix series The Social Dilemma delves into listening technologies and the ability of search engines to trace all of our online goings-on but, what about traditional surveillance?
CCTV cameras are dotted around the globe – in offices, on transport, and on our streets. But, which UK cities are watched the most, and where do you need to go if you’re in need of a bit of privacy?
Energy supplier, Flogas, recently put together the Escapists’ Paradise; which uses a number of factors (e.g. connectivity, population size, number of CCTV cameras) to calculate the UK’s most ‘private’ cities.
Here we take a look at the top ten most- and least-watched cities in the UK:
The top five most-watched
On the list of the world’s most-watched countries ranked by the number of CCTV cameras, the UK comes in at number four, after China, USA, and Germany.
Unsurprisingly, the capital has the largest number of CCTV cameras of any city in the UK. With more than 9 million inhabitants and 1.1 million private sector businesses, London houses more than 809,000 surveillance cameras – just under a fifth of the entirety of the UK’s total number.
In the North West, home to MediaCity, two of the biggest football clubs in the world, and one of the most vibrant and diverse populations in the UK, Manchester houses 248,000 cameras.
The second-largest city in the UK and a bustling metropolis that has recently undergone major redevelopment in its industrial areas, Birmingham is considered the commercial, cultural, financial, and social centre of the Midlands. For this reason, it should come as little surprise that Birmingham plays home to more than 109,000 surveillance cameras.
Returning to the North West, the Merseyside city of Liverpool has 82,000 active CCTV cameras, making it the fourth most-watched city in the UK. Liverpool has witnessed major cultural and retail-led regeneration in recent years and with it has come considerably more businesses, leading to an increase in surveillance.
Newcastle upon Tyne
In the North East, Newcastle is home two of the UK’s most popular universities: Newcastle University and Northumbria. The city’s digital presence has grown significantly in the past decade, too. Newcastle ranks at fifth place with 73,500 cameras, just ahead of Yorkshire city Leeds.
The top five least-watched cities
Now, for the cities in the UK which are covered least by surveillance.
The Welsh Cathedral city of St Davids is the UK’s smallest city, covering an area of just 17sq miles. For this reason, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that the city only has 168 CCTV cameras. St Davids has approximately one camera for every 10 inhabitants.
Considered the smallest city in England, Wells has a population of around 11,000 people. Much like St Davids, Wells has close to one CCTV camera for every 10 people, operating 957 surveillance devices.
A Cathedral City in the Borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, Ripon is famous for both its market and racecourse. With a population of just over 16,000, Ripon ranks as the third least-watched on our list with 1,500 CCTV cameras throughout the small city.
In North Wales, the Cathedral City of Bangor is the country’s oldest labelled city and is home to a university which welcomes more than 2,500 international students on an annual basis – more than a tenth of the city’s total inhabitants. Bangor has 1,710 CCTV cameras across the city, making it the fourth least-watched metropolitan area in the UK.
The Cambridgeshire Cathedral City of Ely covers an area of around 69sq miles and within that space there 1,818 CCTV cameras, giving it claim to the title of the fifth least-watched city in the UK.