Closed-circuit television (CCTV), as a collection of surveillance cameras doing video surveillance, is the use of television cameras for surveillance. It differs from broadcast television in that all components are directly linked via cables or other direct means. Surveillance cameras are often used in areas where there is an increased need for security, such as banks, play room area s, and airports where not everything can be watched at once by humans. The use of surveillance cameras in public places has increased, causing debate over security vs. privacy.
Surveillance cameras were initially developed as a means of increasing security in banks. Today surveillance cameras have developed to the point where they are simple and inexpensive enough to be used as home security systems, and for surveillance.In the United Kingdom, initial experiments in the 1970s and 1980s (including outdoor surveillance cameras being installed in Bournemouth in 1985), led to in several larger trial programs in the early 1990s. These were deemed successful in the government report "CCTV: Looking Out For You", issued by the Home Office in 1994, and paved a way with massive increase in the number of surveillance cameras installed.
Nowadays surveillance cameras cover most town and city centres, and many stations, car-parks and estates. The exact number of surveillance cameras in the UK is not known. A 2002 working paper by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris of UrbanEye, based on a small sample in Putney High Street, "guesstimated" that the number of surveillance cameras in private premises in London is around 400,000 and the total number of surveillance cameras in the UK as around 4,000,000.