Councils have cut services but spend millions on CCTV
TruePublica Editor: Most people in the UK think quite wrongly that they live in a country where freedom and privacy is the basic right of all citizens. The UK currently holds the record for the largest number of CCTV cameras per person. Although Britain contains only contains 1 per cent of the world’s population, its citizens are watched by 20 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras. Research in 2013 estimated that there are up to six million cameras in the UK, and the network is expected to expand even further, which according to a recent report it has achieved. But there’s more.
To add to worries of illegal state surveillance – “the risk potential for intrusion on citizens has significantly increased both by lawful operators of surveillance camera systems and those individual or state actors who seek to hack into systems,” Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter said.
In addition, we should not forget the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. ANPR is one of the largest non-military databases in the UK, with around 9,000 cameras nationally that captures between 25 million and 40 million pieces of data per day, while up to 20 billion “read” records are held.
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Porter described this activity as “formidable”, saying: “The nature of its capabilities to intrude on privacy by building patterns of travel and the provision of imagery should not be underestimated.
“I firmly believe that this system needs legislative oversight and that the Government should place this system on a statutory footing.”
It is estimated that there are over half a million CCTV cameras in London alone where the average person is photographed or videoed approximately 300 times every single day.
And if mass state surveillance, much of which has been deemed illegal by the highest courts in the land is of concern, then diverting much needed public funds from important social support programmes to surveillance is utterly appalling.
Reported in The Times is an article about how councils are now spending millions of pounds spying on residents despite cutting services in almost every other area.
“Local authorities in England have spent more than three-quarters of a billion pounds on CCTV over the past decade, an increase of 17 per cent a year since 2010. Over the same period councils have reduced spending on street cleaning by 12 per cent, food safety by 16 per cent, trading standards by 32 per cent and libraries by 35 per cent.
Critics said the increase in spending on CCTV while other departments had their budgets cut was “offensive”.”
Big Brother Watch Director, Silkie Carlo, said:
“Research consistently shows that public cameras are ineffective at deterring, preventing or even solving crime, but that too much CCTV does curb citizens’ freedom. The UK is already one of the most surveilled nations in the world, with six million CCTV cameras recording us every day. Surveillance is no substitute for policing and this will prove to be a terrible waste of money.”