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ALL FILMED, ALL UNDER SURVEILLANCE? | TF1 | Reportages

88% of towns in France with populations between 15,000 and 150,000 are equipped with video-surveillance cameras. In the majority of cases, these systems are aimed at fighting crime. But the reality is that these cameras are very little used in long-term investigations. So, are they really effective in reducing crime? We plunge into the heart of Big Brother.

Before joining the Nice City Police, Jean-Christophe spent 15 years in the GIGN (National SWAT team). But now, video-surveillance is revolutionizing his working life. In Nice it’s hard to avoid the 2,300 surveillance cameras scanning every street corner. The city is constantly updating its system with the latest technological advances. Their latest high-resolution cameras can zoom in 8 km. During their investigations, in-the-field officers like Jean-Christophe are often guided entirely by the video-surveillance centre. The city is testing revolutionary facial-recognition software that is able to recognize any individual in the middle of a crowd.

France has more than 1.5 million video-surveillance cameras. The phenomenon extends to the most unexpected of places. As is the case of the tiny village of Etouvans, in the Doubs. Its mayor, Nicolas Pacquot,  decided to invest in the battle against the wave of burglaries that has been hitting the village over the last three months. And desperate times require desperate measures: to set the 850 residents of his commune at ease, the mayor installed 10 cameras at a cost of 35,000 Euros… But is it really effective in the long term? And what if these cameras’ only purpose is to reassure the locals?

For increasing numbers of French people, filming has become a means of protecting oneself. In the car, on the motorbike or bicycle, more and more road users are fitting cameras. Like Laurent, 46. This helicopter pilot is an avid cyclist. Several years ago, with his two sons, he was mown down by a hit-and-run driver travelling at over 60mph. Since then he has been using his camera to trace traffic offenders.

And thanks to cell phones, video has also become a formidable weapon available to almost everyone. This enabled Adelaide to obtain the arrest of her attacker. The young woman set social networks on fire when she posted a video of the man who sexually assaulted her in the Paris metro. Using her video and the metro’s surveillance cameras she was able to get her attacker convicted.