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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Smile, you are on candid camera!

Big Brother Watch has published a report on CCTV, which contains some interesting facts about the UK.

Amongst the rather intriguing information contained in it is the revelation that Caerphilly is the highest spending local Council on CCTV, shelling out over £4 million on 146 cameras between 2007 and 2011. That is more than twice as much as Cardiff, who have 860 cameras. The least watched citizens in Wales live in Pembrokeshire. They have just four CCTV cameras.

Before I continue it is worth highlighting the comment at the bottom of the post which poses the question 'what is the point of this research?' and questions some of the facts contained in the report. Nevertheless, it is fascinating reading. The full report is here.

The key findings are:

* There are currently at least 51,600 CCTV cameras controlled by 428 local authorities in Britain
* The total cost of installing, operating and maintaining CCTV cameras between 2007 and 2011 was £515 million. This could pay for 4,121 Police Constables or 5,894 PCSO’s.
* Birmingham has the highest total expenditure on CCTV cameras with a total spend of over £14 million, while Leicester has the highest number of CCTV cameras with 2,083 in total.
* Two authorities have spent more than £10m - Birmingham - £14,293,060.00 and Westminster - £11,831,554.00
* 18 authorities have spent more than £1m per year - Birmingham, Westminster. Leeds, City of Edinburgh, Croydon, Enfield, Cambridge, Wandsworth, Leicester, Barnet, Nottingham, Housnlow, Knowsley, Barking and Dagenham, City of Bristol, Caerphilly, Wakefield, Lambeth
* Five authorities now have more than 1,000 CCTV cameras - Leicester, Fife, Wandsworth, Nottingham, Southampton
* Seven local authorities now have more CCTV cameras than Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds combined - Leicester, Fife, Wandsworth, Nottingham, Southampton, Aberdeen City and Cardiff
An interesting report, Peter, and thanks for highlighting it (and for picking out the Welsh figures).

Might I cheekily encourage you to get off the fence though - what's your view on the figures? Too many cameras? Not enough?

My guess is that as a liberal, you are fundamentally sceptical of the prolific rise of CCTV - but that as a councillor and AM, you are inundated with requests from the public for a CCTV camera on their particular street because people think (often erroneously) that it will be a panacea for any anti-social behaviour or crime.

I think it is important to have a robust code of practice in place to ensure that the cameras and their footage remain under democratic control, are not misused and that the videos dont appear on TV shows.
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