Local UK Governments Criticized for CCTV Expenditures

The spending came amid cuts to their budgets in other areas
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Local governments across the United Kingdom (UK) are being criticized for spending hundreds of millions of pounds on closed circuit television (CCTV) while making cuts to their budgets in other areas.

Edinburgh has been identified as one of the top spenders on CCTV paying more than 3.6 million pounds over the last three years on those systems, which is almost twice the amount that similar-sized cities have spent on those systems.

In addition, Sheffield has a similar population to Edinburgh, but it spent 1.98 million pounds on CCTV systems, ranking it 35th on a list of 336 cities that have acquired surveillance systems. Other Scottish municipal spenders include East Ayrshire, which spent more than 2 million pounds, which was ranked 32nd, and South Ayrshire, which spent 1.76 million pounds and was ranked 49th. In addition, from 2007 through 2010, other Scottish local authorities, including Aberdeen, South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire, spent more than 1 million pounds on CCTV systems.

Data compiled on the use of CCTV systems indicates that governments across Britain spent more than 315 million pounds, including more than 20 million pounds in Scotland, which is almost four times the annual running costs of the Scottish Parliament, or the equivalent of employing 15,000 nurses, say groups opposed to the expansion of surveillance systems.

Local authorities insist that CCTV helps to deter and solve crimes, but civil liberty groups say cameras are intrusive and do little to reduce crime rates. In addition, politicians are urging government councils prove the money being spent on surveillance systems is worth the expenditures.

The spending figures are released as councils across the UK face having to cut millions of pounds from their budgets under an austerity plan.

Alex Deane, the director of Big Brother Watch, which estimates there are at least 59,753 CCTV cameras, controlled by 418 local authorities, said Britain “was spending a shocking amount” on CCTV systems. British citizens “are being watched more than ever before, and we’re being ripped off into the bargain,” he said.

But local governments are insisting that they were getting value for the money spent on cameras, including Edinburgh which says its CCTV network provides high-quality images, that deter crime and helps the police bring criminals to justice.


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