SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

UNDERSTANDING SPAIN

How many CCTV cameras are there in Spain?

CCTV cameras are becoming cheaper, more prevalent, and more technologically advanced. The Local takes a look at how many CCTV cameras there are in Spain, how that stacks up against other countries, and if they actually make us safer.

How many CCTV cameras are there in Spain?
Spanish cities (and Spain overall) generally have a lower number of CCTV cameras compared to other major cities in both Europe and Asia, though this doesn't mean that they are any less safe than anywhere else. Photo: Pixabay.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been around for decades. Advances in technology and the arrival of the digital age saw the prevalence of CCTV cameras explode, and now, in 2022, there are over 1 billion CCTV cameras around the world.

Nowadays they are used to monitor traffic, deter crime, and are a big part of both home and professional security systems. In fact, technology has improved so much in recent decades that cameras have become simultaneously cheaper and more advanced.

Long gone are the days of grainy, pixelated footage. In 2022, CCTV cameras can live stream high quality video, and in some parts of the world, even use facial recognition technology.

Some countries are famous for an abundance of CCTV cameras. China is perhaps the first that springs to mind as one of these highly surveilled states.

But how many CCTV cameras are there in Spain, and do they actually make us safer?

READ ALSO: The Spanish neighbourhoods with the worst reputation for being dangerous

And how do Spain’s CCTV cameras stack up against other countries?

Spain

In Spain, there is around one CCTV camera per 52 inhabitants, according to Spanish security company Continox.

This works out at over 900,000 CCTV cameras, though it is worth noting that as there is no legal obligation to register each individual security camera in Spain, rather just that a property or establishment has at least one and is recording – in reality, therefore, the number could be far higher.

Unsurprisingly, the areas with the highest concentration of CCTV cameras in Spain are in the major cities. In Madrid alone for example, there are 27,300 cameras. If we take the population of the broader Madrid metropolitan area, which is around 6.7 million, that works out to slightly over 4 (4.06) cameras per 1000 inhabitants, according to figures from Comparitech.

In Madrid there are over 2,000 cameras that record from cashpoints and ATMs alone.

In Barcelona, where the metropolitan population is slightly lower, at around 5.7 million, there are 13,300 cameras – significantly less, at 2.35 cameras per 1000 inhabitants.

READ ALSO: How Barcelona is once again Spain’s pickpocket capital

For comparison, the per 1000 people figure in Paris is very similar (4.04) to Madrid, but both Spain and France pale in comparison to the English capital, London, where there are 13.35 CCTV cameras per 1000 people, according to Comparitech.

How does Spain compare?

Though one CCTV camera per 52 Spaniards may seem high, in reality this number is low when compared with other countries and cities and Spain ranks reasonably low on both the per 1000 inhabitants and per square kilometre metrics. The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) recently presented data that estimates there is a CCTV camera for per 14 inhabitants in Britain, for example. 

In what probably comes as a surprise to nobody, 8 of the 10 most surveilled cities in the world (using the same metric above of cameras per 1,000 people) are in China. 

In fact, though it is said that there are over 1 billion CCTV cameras around the world, it is thought that 54 percent of them in China alone – around 540 million cameras. With a rough population of 1.46 billion, this works out at around 372.8 cameras per 1,000 people in China.

For the Brits among our readership, London is the sixth most surveilled city in the world, and if you’ve spent time in London, that might not come as a surprise to you. In London there are almost 400 CCTV cameras (399.27) per km2, according to Surfshark.

For context, in Madrid that figure is just 47.99 cameras/km2, and in Barcelona 71.01/km2. Though that may seem high, it is significantly less than Paris (254.59) and the most surveilled city in the world (in terms of cameras per km2) Chennai, which has a staggering 657.28 cameras/km2, but much more than both Berlin (19.6/km2) and Rome (just 6.35/ km2).

More cameras, less crime?

So, do the high number of CCTV cameras in our big cities make us safer and prevent (or deter, at least) crime?

Not exactly. According to a study by Comparitech, there is a very weak correlation between the number of CCTV cameras and the Crime Index (how safe a place is) in a location. Rather, CCTV cameras are more useful in solving crimes than preventing them.

So if CCTV cameras have a near negligible impact on levels of crime, the debate then pivots instead towards personal privacies and freedoms, and the extent to which major European cities are slowly transforming into surveillance states.

Despite these understandable and growing concerns, polling from Spain’s Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS) suggests that 68.7 percent of Spaniards favour the use of CCTV cameras in public places. Of these, 66.4 percent supported their use because they felt they provide more security, 18.0 percent because it makes identifying criminals easier and 15.2 percent because it prevents crimes.

It is worth noting, however, that these figures are a few years old and the rapid rate with which technology has advanced (think facial recognition) might have softened this support for such heavy CCTV use in recent years as society becomes more technologically savvy and aware of personal freedom and data laws.

That being said, Spanish cities (and Spain overall) are generally middle of the pack in terms of European cities when it comes to CCTV cameras but way behind major cities in Asia, esepecially China, though this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are any less safe than anywhere else.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

POLITICS

What is Spain’s ‘Caso Koldo’ corruption scandal all about?

If you've kept up with Spanish headlines in the last week, you might've noticed that Spain is becoming embroiled in what could be its very own pandemic PPE scandal: the 'Koldo Case'.

What is Spain's 'Caso Koldo' corruption scandal all about?

Spain is no stranger to political scandals or corruption cases. With the so-called ‘Caso Koldo’ dominating headlines in the last week or so, it has a potential two-in one that is both putting the government under pressure and reminiscent of the UK’s own PPE procurement scandal.

The scandal broke following the arrest of Koldo García, a one-time advisor to Spain’s then Transport Minister, José Luis Ábalos, for alleged corruption and ‘kickbacks’ in the awarding of contracts for face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week Spain’s Civil Guard police arrested around twenty people and carried out 26 property searches throughout Spain, with crimes of criminal organisation, money laundering, bribery and influence peddling all suspected.

The investigation is being led by Spain’s national High Court, looking specifically at whether illegal commission payments were handed out when awarding contracts for healthcare material, mostly face masks, from the Ministries of Public Works and Interior, as well as the healthcare systems in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

The investigation is also looking into a “personal and direct relationship” between García and two of the people alleged to have participated in Ministry contracts, specifically masks purchases by Puertos del Estado worth €20 million and by Adif worth €12.5 million.

Anticorruption prosecutors allege that García used the Transport Ministry to speed up the contracting process and financially benefit Soluciones de Gestión y Apoyo a Empresas, the shadowy company at the centre of the alleged plot.

Which companies and contracts are under investigation?

Soluciones de Gestión y Apoyo a Empresas is the main focus of inquiries, a company which went from an annual turnover of €0 in 2019 to almost €54 million in 2020. Investigators believe the company could have even been selected for contracts before the public tender documents were made public.

The contracts under scrutiny are principally those mask contracts for supplies to the Ministries of Public Works and Interior, and healthcare systems in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Why is this becoming such a political story?

In a word: Ábalos, and the fact he hasn’t resigned yet. Ábalos is a prominent MP, and a key figure both in government in his current role as Minister of Transport, but also as PSOE’s organisational secretary until 2021.

The scandal is heaping political pressure on Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s ruling Socialists (PSOE), and some in the government have even subtly called on him to go. Minister of Finance and Deputy Secretary General of the PSOE, María Jesús Montero, said simply amid calls for Ábalos’ resignation: “I know what I would do.”

The opposition party Partido Popular (PP) has also called on Ábalos to resign, and is attempting to build the mask contract scandal into a broader narrative about corruption and sleaze in the Sánchez government on the back of its controversial amnesty deal with Catalan separatist parties.

Ábalos stated publicly that he “had no idea” of García’s alleged involvement in the scheme, and described himself as “stunned” and “very disappointed”.

He has been given 24 hours by ruling Socialists to resign.

Who is Koldo García?

A former local council in Huarte (Pamplona), García became Ábalos’ chauffeur in 2018 when he was PSOE General Secretary.

Once Ábalos became a Minister of Parliament, he appointed García as a director at Renfe Mercancías. He was also a member of the Governing Council of Puertos del Estado, one of public bodies caught up in the corruption scheme.

García is essentially suspected of having acted as an intermediary and collecting bribes or commissions for arranging the contracts.

He did so, according to prosecutor’s documents, by abusing his public position, and is suspected of receiving up to €1.5 million in bribes and commissions.

Suspicions were first raised following his “notable increase in wealth” and the purchase of three flats in Benidorm.

Koldo García’s brother and wife were also arrested as part of the investigations.

SHOW COMMENTS