They say the average Londoner gets caught on CCTV 40 times in one day, but having looked at TfL’s reply to an Freedom Of Information request about cameras on the tube network, it looks like you could easily get caught by 40 cameras making one tube journey. So what station has the most CCTV cameras, and also what tube line?
As suspected it’s the stations that are the biggest and most central that tend to have the most cameras – Kings Cross and St Pancras combined have 408. The majority of stations with the most cameras are also in zone one.
But while the central line is the longest line on the underground, it’s been pipped to the post of having the most CCTV cameras by the Jubilee line which has a whopping 2,427.
Comparatively, Hammersmith & City is the line with the least CCTV cameras – 295 across 28 stops – that’s an average of 11 cameras per station (weirdly, the Jubilee line actually has one less stop than the Hammersmith & City line, but an average of 90 cameras per station).
The sheer number of CCTV cameras on the underground has been controversial in the past – with a decade ago, Transport for London refusing to reveal the total number of cameras in use for ‘security reasons’. While a growing number of tubes have cameras on-board, a decade later, there are still a number of lines without cameras on-board tubes.
However, the cameras at stations have been used successfully for crime prevention and prosecution purposes, and there is some overlap between cameras at a station and number of crimes recorded.
CCTV cameras and underground crime
In 2011, the London Evening Standard reported how there were 165 recorded incidents of crime at Stratford and 147 at Oxford Circus, both stations that feature in our top 20 stations for cameras (indeed Oxford Circus is number two).
Police when asked for a comment referred to how overall crime on the underground was falling and using CCTV was a great deterrent against crime on the underground, saying they planned to increase cameras from 12,000 – 14,000 over the next two years. As of May 2013 (when this data was collated), the number of cameras across London underground stations stood at 15,216 cameras.
King’s Cross was the station found to have the most incidents of crime in 2011, with 194 incidents. Coincidentally, in 2014, that is the station with the most cameras – over 2,000.
The wider story of CCTV in Britain
Of course, the majority of underground stations, particularly in the outer zones, have fewer that 50 cameras, but London in comparison to other major cities worldwide, is definitely the king of catching its’ citizens of cameras – officials from other countries actually come to the UK to learn from our CCTV expertise, visiting Westminster Council’s CCTV control room.
More widely, there is an estimated camera per 11 people in Britain, and CCTV footage was used in 95 per cent of Scotland Yard murder cases in 2009.
So maybe CCTV cameras are not so bad… but why let us know what you think below? Are there too many cameras on the underground?
How many CCTV cameras are in action at your local station
You can also check out how many cameras are in use at your local station on our accompanying interactive map. Are there any stations that surprise you?