Council spending on CCTV equipment cut in half over space of three years, but campaign group warns that a surveillance spending storm could be on the way

Hayley Kirton
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Local authorities have less CCTV cameras up and about compared with 2012 (Source: Getty)

It may always feel like somebody's watching you and you have no privacy, but you're probably less likely to be caught on CCTV than you were a few years ago.

According to a report released today by civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, local authorities reduced the number of CCTV cameras they have by 12.5 per cent and the amount spent on CCTV technology by 46.6 per cent between 2012 and 2015.

While that may sound good for those who get angsty just at the thought of somebody reading their copy of City A.M. over their shoulder, the campaign group pointed out that the drastic spending cut happened during a period of austerity and when councils were typically slashing spending across all categories.

Big Brother Watch was also keen to point out that improvements in technology meant that the trend of the last few years could just be the calm before the surveillance spending storm.

Councils with the highest number of CCTV cameras

Hackney - 2,900

Wandsworth - 2,246

Hammersmith and Fulham - 1,150

Camden - 1,015

Woking - 691

Greenwich - 680

Hillingdon - 674

City of Bristol - 658

Ealing - 615

Swindon - 606

"While the findings of this report appear encouraging, the reduction in spending may be nothing more than a lull before the storm of more intrusive, biometric or 3D cameras appearing on our streets," warned Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch. "Should councils wish to invest in smart digital CCTV systems we urge them to do so by proper consultation with local residents.

"A measured approach should be taken with any surveillance system. Privacy should always be given as much weight as security."

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