The £4.8m cost of Norfolk's CCTV cameras
©Archant Photographic 2010
Councils in Norfolk have spent more than £4.8m installing and running CCTV cameras over the past four years, new figures have revealed.
And the leader of Norwich City Council has said, in the face of cuts to services, it could be time for councils to look into sharing the technology.
The figures were revealed after Freedom of Information requests were submitted to more than 300 councils across the county asking for how much was spent on installing and operating the cameras between 2007 and 2010.
The responses showed that the biggest spender in Norfolk was Norwich City Council, which has spent £1.68m on CCTV, the 53rd highest amount in the country. Norwich City Council has around 70 cameras in the city which it is responsible for and there is just over £400,000 in the budget for 2010.11 to run, monitor and maintain them.
The organisation which carried out the research - Big Brother Watch - claims cameras are a waste of money.
Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Public money is being wasted on snooping surveillance that does next to nothing to prevent or solve crime.
“We are being watched more than ever before and we’re being ripped off into the bargain.”
But Julia Wilkin, Norwich Community Alarm Service manager for Norwich City Council, said: “CCTV is very much an asset of the city enabling both the police and Norwich City Council to help manage the community and environment for residents and visitors alike.
“Over the last six months there has been greater emphasis in using CCTV to support partnership working with Norfolk police, the business community and resident groups in counteracting anti-social behaviour and crime incidents within the city.
“Regular meetings with police and community groups are held where the benefits of CCTV are discussed and it is seen as an effective tool in supporting crime reduction initiatives around the city.”
In recent years, the council has been able to use grants from the Safer Norwich Partnership, neighbourhood renewal fund and LEGI (Local Enterprise Growth Initiative) programme to extend CCTV into areas beyond the city centre where there is evidence of crime and disorder.
However, Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council said, in a climate where local authorities are facing the squeeze, sharing CCTV might be prudent in the future.
He said: “When our equipment comes up for renewal, then we would want to give serious consideration to whether having a shared CCTV system with other authorities would make sense.
“There could be advantages, because it doesn’t really matter where the control room is, so long as the cameras can be accessed from there and it might enable us to make use of newer, higher quality, technology.”
A spokesman for Norfolk police said: “CCTV is an extremely useful tool for the police as footage helps officers with their investigations, in particular for appeals for information.
“CCTV footage can also help the police and our partners identify and address any issues that affect the quality of life in Norfolk’s neighbourhoods.”
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