On Sep 15, a post on the Pantip webboards revealed that many CCTV camera casings around Bangkok had no cameras inside. The BMA has apologized, but is still forging ahead to install 20,000 cameras by 2012. Here is a chronological breakdown of a CCTV deal gone bad.

Freelancer Discovers CCTV Cameras are Empty

Wisan Medsai, 51, a freelance photographer, exposed the truth about the empty CCTV camera cases in his neighborhood by posting pictures on the Pantip webboard.

How did you notice they were missing in the first place?
I was curious to see what a CCTV looks like so I used my flashlight to look inside the case. But there were no cameras inside! I wanted someone to tell me what this was all about so I posted my pictures on Pantip with the hope that someone could tell me that the BMA had simply removed the cameras to fix them or were about to install them. Then it became a big topic.

Do you support CCTV?
It’s better to have it, just in case something happens. But the thing that annoys me is that they put so many cameras in one place. Some intersections have 16 cameras. We’ll also never know if they really installed 10,000 cameras. Plus, what is the management behind it. Is there really a room to monitor them all?

What’s crime like in your neighborhood?
I don’t hear much news about crime here but I did see a warning sign from the police saying “This area is dangerous. Please be warned.“ The funny thing is, there isn’t a single camera where that sign is!

Will CCTV help make your area safer?
A little bit. I still see on the news that people rob supermarkets although they have CCTV. But, footage from CCTV is good evidence to prosecute the criminal.

What do you think about the explanation from BMA?
It’s irksome. They just shrug off all the guilt. If there are 500 empty camera cases from the last administration, then why don’t they fill empty ones before installing new ones?

“We didn’t really mean to deceive people. We used them [the fake ones] to mark spots first…and just showed people there were
cameras there.”
Former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayothin

“I’m sorry for the people who asked police for footage and images from security cameras for evidence against suspects. The BMA told them that the cameras were broken when in fact they were dummy cameras.”
Suthon Anakul, Traffic and Transportation Department director-general

“CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness. It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security. A combination of overdependence on CCTV and ineffective use of the cameras means this money could have been much better spent on more police officers.”
MP David Davis, former shadow Home Secretary (UK)



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