The Surveillance Camera Commissioner has told a UK newspaper that CCTV cameras across the country are being switched off by local authorities in a bid to save more money.
Tony Porter told The Independent that the move makes it “increasingly difficult” for Police to investigate crime and creates a “postcode lottery” for crime detection.
Porter is responsible for the regulation of around 100,000 publicly operated CCTV camera and has called for the creation of inspection teams to ensure that networks belonging to local government are being managed effectively while maintain privacy.
“There are an increasing number of examples where councils and employees are citing a lack of money as being the rationale to reduce the services or completely change its composition and that does concern me,” he claimed.
“Because CCTV isn’t a statutory function, it is something a lot of councils are looking at. Most people recognise the utility of CCTV for support law enforcement.
“To degrade the capacity may have an impact on Police – and given that both Police and local authorities aren’t protected in terms of their funding, it is potentially going to have an impact on how the Police gather evidence.
“It may well be that they find it increasingly difficult to acquire the imagery that will help them investigate crimes,” he added.
Whilst the Commissioner and the Police Federation believe that switching CCTV cameras off will be harmful and make it harder for victims of crime to get justice, civil liberties campaigners have welcomed the move.
Emma Carr, director of privacy group Big Brother Watch, says that Britain’s crime rate is not significantly lower than its counterparts even though it has six million CCTV cameras – one of the highest totals in the world.
“Councils should therefore regularly reviewing whether their CCTV systems, which are often outdated and ineffective, are necessary,” Carr claimed.
“Evidence repeatedly shows that rather than CCTV, measures like better street lighting and effective Policing are what keep the public safe,” she added.