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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
More CCTV cameras to fight crime
Monitoring room
CCTV cameras have proved effective in cutting crime
Thousands more CCTV cameras are to be put in place around the UK as the government steps up efforts to fight crime.

The cameras will be installed in residential crime hotspots, High Street shopping centres, public transport networks and car parks, and hospital sites.

The 79m investment is the largest single government allocation of CCTV money to date and will fund 250 new schemes across England and Wales.

Knowing that there is an extra set of eyes watching over their communities helps to reassure people that they will be safe

John Denham, Home Office Minister
Civil rights campaigners are concerned about the expansion and a prominent criminologist has questioned the effectiveness of the cameras in deterring crime.

Home Office Minister John Denham, who has overall responsibility for crime reduction, said: "CCTV has repeatedly proved its effectiveness in the fight against crime and the fear of crime.

"Knowing that there is an extra set of eyes watching over their communities helps to reassure people that they will be safe.

"It also acts as an important set of eyes for the police, providing valuable evidence where incidents occur.

"Today's announcement of the largest single allocation of CCTV money ever made will make a real contribution to continuing the national trend in falling crime figures."

'Being watched'

But John Wadham, director of human rights group Liberty, wants tighter legislation on the use of CCTV cameras.

He said: "We have to get the balance right on the use of CCTV and other surveillance equipment in public places between protecting people's safety and protecting their privacy."

"Pouring money into thousands more cameras without ensuring that their use is properly controlled by law is not a balanced way forward.

"John Denham says we should be reassured to have 'an extra set of eyes watching over' us.

"It would be more reassuring if we knew whose eyes, what they're watching and what happens to what they see and the information they record - and knew that the watchers are adequately controlled by law.

"At present they are not."

Impact of CCTV

Professor John Ditton, professor of criminology at Sheffield University ,has also questioned the efficiency of CCTV cameras.

He told BBC Five Live: "We were sold this package of CCTV cameras on the basis that it would reduce crime and the fear of crime but there is no real evidence that it does that.

"Because we were sold it on that basis there was never any real civil libertarian objection.

"But now we know, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, that they do not really have a significant impact in the crime rate."

CCTV camera
CCTV: Is said to make people feel safer
However, figures show that areas which benefited from the first round of CCTV funding have already seen large numbers of arrests for criminal behaviour and a significant reduction in crime.

Firthmoor in Darlington, County Durham, where 11 cameras were installed on a large local authority estate, has seen a drop of 46% in reported crime.

Northampton, where Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment has also been supplied, has seen 264 arrests and the recovery of 31 vehicles worth 150,000.

Taunton in Somerset, where six cameras were installed in town centre car parks, has seen motor vehicle theft fall by more than 50%.

Graeme Gerrard, Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman on CCTV issues and assistant chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary, said: "We welcome this additional investment in CCTV.

"When cameras are properly targeted, they can deter offenders, reduce the level of crime and increase the feeling of safety for those using our public spaces."

The approved schemes include:

  • Docklands Light Railway - 2.7m
  • Tyne and Wear Metro - 750,000
  • Merseyside - 6.3m
  • Greater Manchester - 6.2m
  • Kings Lynn, Norfolk - 1m
  • Southampton - 1m

    The BBC's Catherine Marston
    "The reality is there aren't cameras on every street corner"
    John Denham, home office minister
    "People will feel more secure"
    See also:

    30 Nov 99 | UK
    CCTV for car parks
    05 Nov 99 | Education
    School puts spy cameras in toilets
    04 May 99 | UK
    Something to watch over us
    17 Jan 00 | UK
    CCTV for 180 more sites
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