Ipswich ranked among the country’s most watched towns by CCTV cameras
- Credit: Archant
Police and council chiefs have defended the use of CCTV after Ipswich was named one of the UK’s most watched towns.
Its 228 cameras equate to one for every 596 people, according to a list of surveillance hotspots.
Ipswich has almost 70 more cameras than Sheffield – a city with four times the population.
Data was collected from civil liberties group Big Brother Watch and the Office of National Statistics for each local authority.
A map produced by electronics firm RS Components shows Ipswich with more than four times the amount of cameras per resident than Birmingham.
Big Brother Watch has said the implications for privacy grows as camera numbers increase, and that money should be spent on other enforcement to stop crime before the need for CCTV.
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But the police and Ipswich Borough Council have defended CCTV as an effective and proportionate security measure.
A police spokesman said CCTV was a powerful tool for identifying suspects, witnesses, and vehicles used in crimes.
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The force said it worked closely with councils to keep Suffolk safe, and that CCTV was invaluable in concluding many investigations and securing convictions.
CCTV is also monitored on screens in the force control room during live incidents.
A spokesman added: “Suffolk Constabulary is mindful of the freedom of citizens to go about their daily business without being subject to intrusive surveillance.
“The force will only use surveillance, including images derived there from, providing it is lawful, properly authorised, proportionate in achieving its aim and deployed in the least intrusive way.”
According to last year’s Suffolk Observatory figures, more than 13 crimes a day were recorded in Alexandra ward, which includes a large area of the town centre.
Last month, police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore suggested county-wide CCTV could ease demand on officers.
The borough council said it adhered to national legislation to protect privacy and data security.
A spokesman called CCTV a vital tool in fighting crime and antisocial behaviour, combatting drug and gang activity, locating lost children and detecting older people who collapse in the street.
“Its value in keeping Ipswich safer, particularly at night, is well documented, and cameras have provided evidence for use in hundreds of court cases,” he said.