Borough defends rise in CCTV cameras

Borough leaders today defended the use of CCTV in Ipswich after countrywide figures revealed the numbers of cameras has tripled in ten years.

SUFFOLK: Borough leaders today defended the use of CCTV in Ipswich after countrywide figures revealed the numbers of cameras has tripled in ten years.

Local authorities control hundreds of CCTV cameras keeping an eye on citizens across the county, according to new statistics published today.

The study, entitled Big Brother Is Watching, found that 418 local authorities control 59,753 cameras - around one for every 1,000 people. Ten years ago a similar study found the total was 21,000.

Most are controlled by borough or district councils but a few are controlled by counties - mainly to keep an eye on traffic flows at key junctions and to watch specific locations such as children's centres or fire stations.

In Suffolk the number is generally less than the national average - although in St Edmundsbury there are 1.2 cameras per thousand people.

However there was confusion about the number of cameras operating in Ipswich - according to a Freedom of Information request sent to the group Big Brother Watch there are just 28 cameras in the town.

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But The Evening Star was told that the total number in Ipswich was three times that - with 64 cameras in the town centre and about another 20 at the three park and ride centres around the town.

A spokesman for Ipswich council said CCTV cameras were important in the fight against crime and helped to make people feel safer in the town.

He said: “The cameras have been very useful in identifying when crimes are taking place, and of course their presence deters a great deal of crime.

“They have proved very useful in detecting some high-profile cases - and of course they help people to feel much more secure.”

But Big Brother Watch director Alex Deane said CCTV was seen as a "cheap alternative to policing".

The rise of expensive "surveillance networks” has made little impact on cutting crime, he said.

Number of cameras in public areas :

Suffolk County Council: 146 - 0.2 for every thousand people

Ipswich: 84 (borough figure) - 0.6 per thousand

St Edmundsbury: 120 (Includes 24 cameras in Forest Heath) - 1.2 per thousand

Mid Suffolk: 2 (Monitored by St Edmundsbury) - 0.02 per thousand

Babergh: 26 - 0.3 per thousand

Suffolk Coastal: 11 - 0.1 per thousand