Ipswich: Town’s surveillance cams worth the cost, say bosses

IPSWICH: Borough bosses today defended the use of CCTV cameras in the town after a civil liberties group labelled them a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Anti-surveillance campaigners Big Brother Watch criticised the �1.1million cost of installing and operating CCTV cameras in Ipswich between 2007 and 2010.

But safety chiefs have hit back, calling the system “well-run and cost efficient”, and revealing that 409 arrests, made during a nine-month period of this year alone, were directly attributable to CCTV operators.

Ipswich Borough Council was among 336 local authorities to respond to a Freedom of Information request from Big Brother Watch, which found that nearly �315m was spent on CCTV across the UK over the last three years.

Ipswich is the 105th highest spender on CCTV – forking out �1,096,642.23 on operating around 90 cameras across the town.

Images from all cameras are recorded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and famously proved crucial in leading to the arrest of Steve Wright during the Ipswich murder investigation.

Most of the cameras are fixed and in the town centre but there are re-locatable cameras.

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The council also has a number of “talking CCTV cameras” in the town centre which allow control room staff to offer advice and warnings.

Big Brother Watch, which fights privacy intrusion, said the cost of operating the system could be better spent on employing 53 nurses.

Director Alex Deane added: “Public money is being wasted on snooping surveillance that does next to nothing to prevent or solve crime.”

But Nadia Cenci, head of community safety for the council, said the expense was worthwhile and had spotted 2,741 incidents between January and September, including 130 traffic accidents and 145 missing people.

She added: “Our CCTV operation is well-run and cost-efficient. It not only deters anti-social behaviour, but also provides a wider community role in finding missing persons and directing emergency services to road accidents and people who have fallen ill or been injured in the street.

“Our operation builds partnerships with the police, cuts crime and builds confidence for the public.”

n Do we spend too much on surveillance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk