Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Armed Revolutionary Nationalist Faction

I heard about this group on Marketplace and was intrigued.

The idea of catching criminals on camera is more popular than ever. The Brits have spent billions to keep a remote eye on citizens. But today a senior detective is making headlines there, claiming surveillance cameras have barely made a dent in crime.

In France, you might say they've actually caused it. Since speed cameras were introduced there in 2003, vandals have smashed them, blinded them with paint or taken aim with rifles. Lately, a group calling itself the Armed Revolutionary Nationalist Faction -- or F'NAR -- has turned to blowing them up. John Laurenson reports from Paris.

Which is fascinating. Anecdotally, red light and speed cameras are presumed to be less about safety and more about increasing government revenue through increased traffic citations. That lack of public support would seem to mean when the cameras are attacked, if there are any witnesses they wouldn't come forward.

The economics are interesting as well.

Like the cafe customers, Mister Iosca believes money is behind the cameras. Speed cameras cost $150,000 each but generate, on average, twice that in revenue in a year. According to the French government, speed cameras brought in $700 million in 2007.

So, one wonders how many $150,000 cameras have to be destroyed to make replacing them cost prohibitive, given expected revenue.

The means of destroying the cameras seems very cheap. Sledgehammers, gasoline... things commonly available and effectively untraceable.

Perhaps people, if they don't support a political action, aren't always content with the ballot box as the only means to implement their dissatisfaction.

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