Hartlepool spends £602,538 on CCTV - more than doubling cost as other councils cut back on surveillance

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Hartlepool Borough Council was one of few nationwide to raise its spending on CCTV in the last three years, according to new figures from civil liberties group Big Brother Watch.

The organisation has released figures detailing how much every local authority in the UK has spent on closed circuit TV over the last three years.

They show Hartlepool Council spent £602,538 on installing, maintaining and monitoring CCTV systems between 2012 and 2015, up from £251,602 in the previous three years.

A council spokesman said: “CCTV is a vital tool in the prevention and detection of crime and disorder, as well as providing reassurance to the local community.

“CCTV is a key part of the council’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy which aims to make Hartlepool’s streets safer and ensure victims are provided with the support they need, as well as working with individuals to stop their offending behaviour.

“There are huge community benefits for a town like Hartlepool - night time and daytime - from CCTV provision and we are all beneficiaries as residents, visitors and businesses.”

The new report shows the increase is at odds with the national picture, which has seen councils move away from the use of CCTV, though some areas – notably London - have reported a rise of more than a 70% in CCTV coverage.

Big Brother Watch welcomed the national reduction but said it was the results of funding cuts, not a new awareness of civil liberties: “While we are pleased to see a reduction in spending on CCTV, we have to understand the rationale behind the figures is not ideological,” said the organisation.

“In the 2015/2016 financial year alone, local authorities have been instructed to find £2.6billion of savings.”

The group has called for tighter regulation of cameras and for the public to be given more information on new and existing schemes.

“No register of CCTV cameras currently exists in the UK,” it said.

“This means we have no idea exactly how many cameras are present in the country. The most recent estimate, from the British Securities Industry Association, puts the number at between four and six million.

“Without precise numbers it is very difficult to know where cameras are located, how intrusive they can be and indeed how effective they are.

“Mid Sussex District Council recently announced a public consultation ahead of replacing their current stock of cameras. The council invited views on the potential expansion of the scheme, and published the location of the proposed new cameras, as well as the effectiveness of the existing ones.

“We welcome this approach as it allows the local residents to judge for themselves whether or not they think they will benefit from the suggested scheme or not.

“This kind of transparency and debate should be standard ahead of the installation of CCTV. The publication of the business case for each camera before installation would help to further inform members of the public of any plans.”