Civil Liberties group slams Calderdale Council spending on CCTV

A civil liberties group has slammed Calderdale Council for spending £680k on upgrading its CCTV equipment. The upgrade of the equipment will be financed by over £425K of borrowing at a time when Labour are cutting services elsewhere.

Commenting on the spending Charles Farrier of the civil liberties campaign NO CCTV said:

“It seems absurd that in an age of savage cuts to public services Calderdale council think it is appropriate to spend over half a million pound of local tax payers money on upgrading their surveillance cameras. Surely greater crime prevention or crime control effects can be realized by using the money to be spent on surveillance cameras on proven strategies to improve education systems, create job training programs, improve housing, relocate families living in high crime areas, reduce poverty, or hire more people to walk, talk, and problem solve in “at risk” communities. The council hide behind meaningless statistics that only show how often a control room knob was twiddled. Study after study has shown that CCTV cameras are not the silver bullet that lazy, populist politicians continue to claim they are.

What is more, research shows that cameras can have a damaging effect on communities by increasing fear and reducing trust. A report entitled ‘Fortress Britain’, published last year by the New Economics Foundation, found that residents on an estate in London felt that “knowing people”, whether it be caretakers, youth workers or each other, was the key to creating trust, whilst cameras increased fear and decreased trust. Surveillance cameras do not fix but actually contribute to the breakdown of our communities. But we have another concern about Calderdale council’s so-called “upgrade” to their CCTV cameras.

The proposed scheme represents a massive step change in open-street surveillance as the council would no longer be operating closed-circuit cameras but networked digital surveillance cameras connected to the Public Sector Network. Such cameras were described by the Royal Academy of Engineering as “public webcams”. Of course the council will tell us that only authorised persons and organisations will have access to the network of cameras but we know all to well how such lists of authorised bodies can grow.

The council’s proposals would be waste of tax payers money but more importantly an assault on the freedoms of everyone in West Yorkshire.”

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Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Alisdair Calder McGregor has also stated his opposition to the scheme:  “Whilst borrowing money to spend on CCTV Labour are cutting Pellon & Sowood Community Centres, which do more to address anti-social behavior issues than all the CCTV cameras in the world.”

Liberal Democrats debate Devolution for Yorkshire

A motion at the Liberal Democrat’s spring conference proposes a radical devolution of power away from Westminster. Under the plans English regions would get similar powers to those of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies, including powers over Education, Health and Agriculture.

Yorkshire, which has roughly the same population as Scotland, would be offered the chance to take control of such powers instead of having them controlled from London. The proposal will be debated at the Liberal Democrat spring conference, which will take place in York on the 7th-9th of March.

LibDem PPC for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor said “These proposals offer English regions real power to shape their own destiny without Westminster interference. This is good for the regions, as people will have more direct say in how their local area is run, and good for the UK as a whole, as it means Westminster can concentrate on national issues like Defence and Foreign Affairs”.

As well as increased autonomy for regions like Yorkshire, the Liberal Democrats are proposing powers being handed back to local authorities, including financial freedom, removal of the powers of central government ministers to overrule, and powers over council tax and business rates.

The Liberal Democrat proposals also include the abolition of the House of Lords, a move to fairer “STV” voting for local authorities (the system currently used in Scotland), and changes to the way European elections are run so that people vote for candidates rather than political parties.