Talking CCTV to fight crime in town

TALKING CCTV cameras could soon be barking orders at people committing anti-social behaviour in Ipswich.It has been announced that the town is one of 21 areas across the country, which will received a grant to adapt cameras.

TALKING CCTV cameras could soon be barking orders at people committing anti-social behaviour in Ipswich.

It has been announced that the town is one of 21 areas across the country, which will received a grant to adapt cameras.

An existing scheme in Middlesbrough has been used to stop vandals and tell litterbugs to pick up their rubbish. Council workers in a control centre can monitor pictures from 12 talking cameras in the town and communicate directly with people on the street at the flick of a switch.

Home Secretary John Reid today denied plans to expand the use of "talking" CCTV cameras across the country were "Big Brother gone mad".

He insisted it was proven to work and the communities sharing nearly £500,000 in grants to adapt cameras would feel the benefits.

Reid said: “The new funding for Talking CCTV is aimed at the small minority who think it is acceptable to litter our streets, vandalise our communities and damage our properties.”

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There was mixed reaction across the town with some believing it was a “necessary evil” due to all the anti-social behaviour in town and others annoyed about the controlling nature of the idea.

Anti-social behaviour network manager for Ipswich Borough Council Andy Solomon said: “We welcome the opportunity to put a voice out to the people who are committing these anti-social behaviour acts as it is another tool in the toolbox in the fight against crime. It will be a reassurance to the public and if it prevents a crime from happening and someone getting into trouble for it, it can only be a good thing.

“I can imagine operators can become extremely frustrated watching anti-social behaviour taking place and being unable to stop it.”

The council is currently looking for suitable locations for the cameras.

Competitions are being held at schools in many of the areas for children to become the "voice' of CCTV cameras.

There are an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain, even though a Home Office report published four years ago concluded better street lighting was seven times more effective at cutting crime.

The study suggested CCTV cut crime by a "small degree' - four per cent overall and just two pc in urban areas - while improved lighting in public spaces made crime plummet by 30 pc.

The exception was CCTV in car parks, which led to a significant 41pc fall in crime, the academic report added.

A recent study from the Government's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, warned Britain was becoming a "surveillance society".

n.What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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