Sir Chris Fox, a video surveillance expert from the United Kingdom, addressed a gathering of reporters and editors last week at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley, Calif., as part of the 2008 Media Summit hosted by ADT, Boca Raton, Fla.

“Community safety cameras work when they are planned, designed and implemented properly,” Fox told the gathering, using the UK’s term for video surveillance cameras.

He emphasized that cameras are for safety – not surveillance – and that the British public supports them after several terrorist bombings that started in the mid-1990s with ones by the Irish Republican Army and other incidents by unaffiliated terrorists.

Fox was involved in the coordination of Britain’s response to the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings in the London Underground and on a bus.

Among the lessons learned by British authorities about video surveillance Fox cited include the importance of a national standard for video, the necessity of response to incidents detected by video, keeping deployment flexible, measuring performance of video systems and keeping the lid on hidden costs.

Something as simple as assuring that the judiciary has the correct equipment to view video in court was found to be lacking in the beginning in the UK, he said.

Fox maintained that community safety cameras can prevent the cycle of neighborhood deterioration through vandalism and crime. They can reduce a sense of danger people may have about a neighborhood and in that sense reduce urban blight, although he conceded it is difficult to measure that positive effect in dollars.

“Some systems in the UK are awful because they were not thought through on the police side,” Fox admitted. “The good systems are fantastically effective, and the public likes them.”

He pointed out that 194 people have been arrested as a result of the investigation of the London bombings. “Their plans have been disrupted,” he noted. “There is less chance of being a victim of crime in the UK than at any time since 1981.”