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.”