BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 12:23 UK

Labour to give people right to request CCTV cameras

Katie Piper and Alan Johnson
Ms Piper said she felt 'comforted' by the presence of CCTV

People will be given the right to petition for CCTV cameras, Labour has pledged, as the party unveils its plans for communities and law and order.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson was joined at a press conference by Katie Piper, who was the victim of an acid attack.

She said her attackers may not have been caught and brought to justice if it had not been for the use of CCTV.

Mr Johnson also said Britain was "not broken", and violent crime had fallen, contrary to Conservative claims.

Mr Johnson accused other parties of opposing greater use of CCTV cameras on the basis of it forming part of a "surveillance society".

'Tough action'

Ms Piper, who had extensive surgery to rebuild her face, said: "I believe CCTV is an essential tool in today's day and age in ensuring the safety of the public.

"If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to fear. Without CCTV my attackers could have walked free."

She said she is "comforted" now by the thought that CCTV cameras are in many places and would not live or work in an area without them.

Mr Johnson accused the Tories of "fundamental deceit" in the ongoing row about the use of crime statistics and said David Cameron was "running down Britain" by claiming society was "broken".

"He's used a series of tragic incidents to try and paint the worst possible picture of our society."

He said a Labour government would take "tough action" against problem families and give communities a greater say about how offenders are dealt with under the community payback scheme.

It would also keep short prison sentences and the DNA database, he said.

Neighbourhood policing

Speaking at a campaign event in Oldham, Greater Manchester, Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed to defend neighbourhood policing, saying 80% of officers' time must be spent on the streets in future.

He said the Conservatives would not match Labour on police funding, were against the expansion of CCTV, and wanted to reduce the size of the DNA database.

"If you're going to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, you need that CCTV protection to back up the police. That is one of the ways we keep people safe and make people feel safer in our communities," he said.

Mr Brown used his predecessor Tony Blair's "tough on crime" phrase five times in the 10-minute speech.

Later, in a walkabout in Rochdale, Mr Brown met a woman who said she had been a life-long Labour supporter but she was now "ashamed" to admit it.

During the exchange she confronted the prime minister on crime, pensions, education, benefits, immigration and on how the recession was affecting older people.

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