Top official accused of arrogance

TOP Government crime reduction officer Dr Henry Tam has been accused of arrogance in a row over funding that has been lost for crime busting CCTV cameras.

TOP Government crime reduction officer Dr Henry Tam has been accused of arrogance in a row over funding that has been lost for crime busting CCTV cameras.

A senior Home Office official has revealed that East Anglian communities have lost out on the chance to gain the equipment to help tackle crime because of a council's actions.

It comes after Mid Suffolk District Council was awarded £62,350 for mobile CCTV cameras which would have been used in towns and villages covered by the authority.

But councillors rejected the Home Office money, claiming they could not afford to run the system and they were also concerned about issues arising from the Government's Human Rights and Data Protection legislation.

As a result they suggested use of the cameras by parish councils would only be possible with costly administrative support from the police or district council.

But in a leaked letter Dr Henry Tam , east of England regional crime reduction director for the Home Office, is scathing of the council's conduct.

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In a letter to the authority's chief executive, Andrew Good, he says: "I must express my disappointment not just with the decision of Mid Suffolk District Council in this matter, but with the fact that it was left so late in the financial year.

"The timing of the decision leaves no time for the funding to be reallocated either within the region or nationally and it is consequently lost to crime reduction as a whole and to the east of England in particular.

"As regional crime reduction director I find this particularly frustrating, knowing that many partnerships across the region were unsuccessful with their bids for funding last year.

"Needless to say the effectiveness with which Home Office funding has been utilised previously will be a key factor in future funding decisions.''

Dr Tam said he was not aware of any of the current 40 mobile CCTV schemes across the country in various stages of development having problems with Data Protection or Human Rights legislation.

But Mr Good hit back at the criticism of the Liberal Democrat/Labour-run council.

"The Home Office response is arrogant and fails to address the legitimate points we have raised," he said.

"The bottom line is that the council would have been wrong to spend £62,000 from the public purse if the cameras could only be deployed once in a while. In simple terms the council has been left with all the ongoing costs as the contribution envisaged from the police is much less than originally planned.

"This in itself did not scupper the scheme. The cameras would only be deployed where the police agreed there was a significant problem to address and the local scheme was, therefore, dependent upon parishes deploying the equipment with our help.

"It would be unreasonable to expect lay people to operate sophisticated equipment and not infringe other people's human rights.

"The Home Office representative has chosen, regrettably, not to understand the uniqueness of the scheme we had planned and cannot now proceed with.''

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