Millions splashed on CCTV by councils

COUNCILS across north London have shelled out millions on CCTV over the past three years, new figures have revealed.

Almost �315million was spent by 336 councils across the country on CCTV between 2007 and 2010, according to Freedom of Information requests obtained by Big Brother Watch, and Barnet tops the north London list coming in ninth nationally with a spend of �3,119,020.

Westminster comes in 15th with �2,696,900 spent, although it is fourth in the highest spenders of CCTV maintenance.

Haringey ranks 22nd having spent �2,541,501 and Camden is 30th with a �2,341,555 spend, although it ranked seventh in a table of the highest spenders on new CCTV.

Anti-CCTV campaigner and Muswell Hill councillor Jonathan Bloch said: “What an absolute waste of money.

“CCTV gives a false sense of security and it invades people’s privacy. It is not a deterrent to crime and the rate of conviction is around one per 1,000 CCTV cameras, so it is ineffectual.

“This money could be better spent and hopefully this will be culled in Haringey’s cuts. It is typical waste of ratepayers’ money by the council.

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“The councils are all as bad as each other and there is no reason for that level of surveillance of the public.

“It is part of the authoritarianism which seems to have grown under the last Labour government.”

Hampstead resident Tom Conti said: “They are using these CCTV cameras to catch motorists by pointing them at roads so that people who stop on a yellow line for two minutes and one second while their mum buys a packet of Smarties, even though they are in the car, will get a ticket.

“Vicious local authorities are bearing down and making our lives even more difficult than they already are in these difficult times. It is disgusting – just money farming.”

CCTV use has trebled in the last decade and there are now almost 60,000 cameras nationwide. On average it is said we are captured 300 times a day on CCTV.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore, said: “CCTV is a mixed bag really. It has its uses and there are areas where it has a role in tackling anti-social behaviour but I think there are other areas where local residents are more worried about the prevalence of CCTV.

“�3.2million is an enormous amount of money to spend particularly at a time when budgets are being cut and libraries and children’s centres are at risk. People will want to ask some very serious questions about this.”

A Barnet Council spokesman said the council has opted not to implement any new CCTV schemes this year to save money, but CCTV is an important tool in combating crime.

A spokesman for Westminster council said it uses CCTV to deter criminals and keep traffic moving. A spokeswoman for Camden added: “Camden’s public safety CCTV cameras recorded 15,800 incidents in 2009-10 and helped the police make 1,500 arrests.”

A council spokeswoman said: “These costs include the cost of traffic enforcement officers and of the surveillance control room, not just cameras.

“Haringey hosts several major routes into central London and a football stadium and we installed CCTV in partnership with the police to keep traffic flowing and to support community safety initiatives in the borough.”