In many cities the use of video cameras in public places is being increased

IELTS Writing Task 2 with sample answer.

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In many cities the use of video cameras in public places is being increased in order to reduce crime, but some people believe that these measures restrict our individual freedom.

Do the benefits of increased security outweigh the drawbacks?

Give reasons for your answer, and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Model Answer:

The post 9/11, the risks have increased tremendously now with the war on terror and security turns into the main concern of our society. Consequently, the practice of using surveillance cameras in public places to record public activities is ever-expanding, and will definitely expand still further after declaring war against terrorism. The cameras make many people feel more secure, knowing that bad guys are being monitored. But the proponents of the right of privacy and some citizens are frustrated with the idea that the authority is watching their every public move. Discussing the both points of view, I will give my opinion.

The surveillance cameras are used to curb the potential crimes and find out the culprits as well. In addition, facial recognition software and other technologies have made these cameras more effective and the images are more valuable to law enforcement. Police could easily identify criminals through parsing the CCTV (close-circuit television) footage after committing a crime. A very good example here is the incident of bombings at the Boston Marathon. The law enforcement agencies analyzed footages from government surveillance cameras, private security cameras, and imageries shot by bystanders on smartphones. It took the FBI only three days to bring out blurry shots of two suspects, take by a departmental store’s cameras. Moreover, CCTV systems impede potential crimes. Once the criminals realize that the place is under surveillance by a closed circuit television system, they eventually choose to go somewhere else. Every day, several heinous crimes take place around the world that these crimes leave a deep mark of fear in our collective consciousness. Consequently, many feel a strong need for surveillance camera to calm their fears.
Though this statement may be apparently intriguing, it is ultimately unpersuasive. The individual right of privacy is deeply rooted in our culture for many reasons. It defends ordinariness of life. That is, it enables us to engage in our business on a day-to-day basis without having consistently to worry that we will be judge by other now or in the future for everything we do. It frees us to make decisions and to lead our lives in ways that we believe to be right without having incessantly to justify ourselves to others who would condemn our decisions. That is to say that the right of privacy, indeed, is a crucial part of what it means to be free. Again, where the state is involved, there is a special dimension to the right of privacy. If the state could learn everything it wants about every one of us, it would be hard if not possible for citizens to keep in mind the state works for them, rather than the other way around. The right of privacy, therefore, is an essential component is preserving the citizens’ own sense of dignity and autonomy vis-à-vis the state. Any democratic state is chained in oath that the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable interference.

All in all, I would like to contend that surveillance on individuals in public is permissible only if the footage can be accessible by the law enforcement agencies only if they obtained search warrant from a judge who has determined that the law enforcement agencies have probable cause to believe that viewing the footage may reveal useful information in a criminal investigation. This seems to me the best approach to reconcile the interest in individual liberty with the competing interest in effective law enforcement.