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Watchdog: Council CCTV 'often outdated and ineffective'

Privacy watchdog Big Brother Watch has waded into the debate over councils plans to scale back on the use of CCTV cameras, saying the systems currently in place are "often outdated and ineffective".

CCTV camera coverage could be 'scaled back' Credit: Ryan Browne/EMPICS Sport

Director Emma Carr said: "Evidence repeatedly shows that rather than CCTV, measures like better street lighting and effective policing are what keep the public safe."

'Public safety paramount' in decisions on CCTV

A government official has said that "public safety is paramount" in decisions on CCTV.

'Public safety paramount' in decisions on CCTV. Credit: PA

A spokesman said: "Public safety is paramount and the majority of local authorities have continued to balance their budgets and increased or maintained public satisfaction with services.

"Decisions on CCTV provision should be a local decision by elected local councillors, reflecting local circumstances and the views of local residents - especially in relation to any concerns about crime."


Council cuts leading to 'scaled back CCTV coverage'

Councils are scaling back on the use of CCTV cameras in an attempt to cut costs, a surveillance watchdog has warned.

Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, said he was concerned about local authorities cutting back on monitoring cameras because it could make it more difficult for police to detect and investigate crime.

He added that town halls could face greater scrutiny of their use of CCTV, including potential inspections and enforcement.

Mr Porter, who is due to give the findings of a review into standards to the Home Secretary this autumn, has written to council chief executives to remind them of the law and code of practice.

The British Security Industry Authority has estimated there are up to six million CCTV cameras in the UK. Credit: Stephen Rafferty / Eye Ubiquitous/PA Images

He told the Independent: "There are an increasing number of examples where councils and employees are citing a lack of money as being the rationale to reduce the service or completely change its composition - and that does concern me. 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 supporting law enforcement. To degrade the capacity may have an impact on police. It may well be that they will find it increasingly difficult to acquire the images that will help them investigate crimes."

Police review 35 terabytes of video in search for Alice

CCTV footage has played a crucial role in piecing together 14-year-old missing teenager Alice Gross's last known sightings, police said.

The police said the search operation is the biggest since 7/7.

  • Detectives are reviewing material from around 300 CCTV cameras
  • Total of 35 terabytes of video is being examined
  • CCTV video was gathered from cameras covering a six-mile-square area
  • 30 detectives are working on the CCTV evidence
Alice Gross Credit: Met Police

Teachers have 'less professional privacy than lab rats'

Teachers should not be subjected to the stress and pressure of being watched constantly, the NASUWT's general secretary said, after a new survey claimed that schools were using CCTV to monitor staff. Chris Keates said:

Teachers are already wrestling with excessive monitoring, masquerading as classroom observation, carried out by senior management and a host of other people regularly visiting their classrooms.

Now, in some schools, they are being subjected to permanent surveillance through CCTV cameras. Lab rats have more professional privacy.

Two fifths of teachers say CCTV 'used to judge staff'

Around one in 12 schools say they have CCTV in their classrooms, according to a NASUWT survey, which claimed that CCTV camera were being used to spy on teachers. Out of the 7,500 members questioned:

  • Two thirds (66%) say the cameras were introduced for pupil safety.
  • A further 58% say CCTV was brought in for the safety of staff.
  • Under a third (31%) said that the cameras are there to monitor pupil behaviour, with 15% saying that they are designed to help teachers' professional development.
  • Almost nine in ten (89%) said that they cannot switch the cameras off, with a similar proportion (87%) saying that the CCTV was constantly recording.
  • Around 17% said that they see the CCTV as there just to spy on teachers, with 31% arguing it is an invasion of their professional privacy.
  • Over half of teachers (55%) claim the recordings are monitored by their school leaders.
  • Two fifths (41%) saying the footage has been used to make judgments about staff.
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