Domestic Security: Video Surveillance at Potsdam's Central Train Station (December 18, 2001)
In a pilot project launched in 2001, the state of Brandenburg installed video surveillance cameras in public spaces in four areas with high crime rates, Bernau, Rathenow, Erkner, and Potsdam. After the pilot ended in 2007, surveillance was discontinued in Bernau and Rathenow, because crime had fallen in these two places. But the project was extended on an open-ended basis in Erkner and Potsdam. Brandenburg’s interior minister, Jörg Schonböhm (CDU), called the surveillance project a success, emphasizing that crime in Potsdam’s central train station dropped by over 58 percent between 2001 and 2006. Although critics have cast doubt on the effectiveness of video surveillance – and have also pointed to privacy concerns – it has become part of everyday life in many public spaces (e.g., train stations, public trains and buses, downtown areas) in Germany. Video footage led to the arrest of the “suitcase bombers” who planted explosive devices disguised as suitcases in regional trains in Cologne’s central station on July 31, 2006. Advocates of video surveillance argued that this proved its effectiveness. This photograph shows a Potsdam city employee pulling tape off a sign at Potsdam’s central train station. The sign informs travelers that the area is under video surveillance. Photo: Nestor Bachmann.