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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Basingstoke 'more CCTV than NYC'
CCTV camera
Britain has one in five of the world's CCTV cameras
A Hampshire market town is now thought to have more CCTV cameras per person than the biggest city in the US.

At least 250 CCTV cameras - one for every 625 residents - monitor daily life in Basingstoke, with a new network of 12 to be launched by the council.

Paul Harvey, a local councillor, said: "Fear of crime in Basingstoke has dropped and CCTV is part of that."

New York, with a population of 8m, had an estimated 6,000 cameras in 2002 - one for every 1,333 residents.

Prosecutions from CCTV have provided a real drop in crime
Paul Harvey, councillor

Basingstoke's new network of 12 town centre cameras is being set up with a 200,000 grant from the South East England Development Agency.

It will then be monitored by the council at an annual cost of 60,000.

The town currently has 200 cameras in the Festival Place shopping centre, 16 in The Malls, 11 in the leisure park and up to eight at the train station, as well as others owned by smaller businesses.

Mr Harvey added: "People know they're walking around a town where the council and police are taking anti-social behaviour and crime seriously.

"The prosecutions that have come from CCTV have provided a real drop in crime."

There's a fine line between helping and leading to a surveillance society
Doug Jewell, Liberty

Basingstoke is far from the CCTV capital of the country. In London, an average person could be captured on camera 300 times a day.

With 4.2 million cameras nationwide, Britain has 20% of the world's CCTV and one camera for every 14 people.

Civil liberties campaigners have called for CCTV to be used with restraint.

Doug Jewell, campaigns co-ordinator at human rights group Liberty, said: "CCTV technology can be a real help in a city centre and in the world we live in post 7 July no-one would say it should be banned.

"But there's a fine line between helping and leading to a surveillance society.

"CCTV should not be a substitute for resourcing of the police service. In some places more lighting may be a more effective measure than CCTV."

According to government guidelines, cameras must not be aimed at private homes and notices should inform people when they are in an area monitored by CCTV.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: "Basingstoke council has put the CCTV into the town so it is only appropriate that it should comment."

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