London: City Under Surveillance

Hundreds of surveillance cameras around London prove crucial to investigation.

June 29, 2007 — -- London police caught a major break in Friday's thwarted bomb plot when they found an image of the driver of one of the vehicles left in Piccadilly Circus with the help of a surveillance camera.

Residents in the British capital are among the most watched people on Earth. Since the Sept. 11 attacks the number of cameras in Britain has jumped from 1 million to around 5 million. That means people in London are caught on camera roughly 300 times a day, with the closed-circuit television cameras placed on corners around the city.

"We're allowing it because we are angry and fed up with crime and disorder," said Clive Norris, a University of Sheffield professor. "We're allowing it because we are frightened by terrorism, with good reason."

And they've worked. The cameras helped investigators locate the terror suspects who killed 52 people on London's trains and buses on July 7, 2005. They were filmed boarding a train that morning and identified using CCTV, or closed-circuit television, images.

"They have been incredibly useful to police in preventing crime, in detecting crime and of course providing evidence that can then convict criminals at court," said security analyst Charles Shoebridge.

Police are now poring over video footage from the latest bomb plot, looking for details about the two cars that were packed with explosives in central London that were found before any damage occurred.

"They can monitor back the movements of that car and also forward, where the suspects may well have gone," Shoebridge explained.

Security sources told ABC News they already have a crystal clear image of a man "staggering from the Mercedes" outside the Tiger, Tiger nightclub where one car was found.