William Eichler 23 February 2016

New surveillance technology 'threatens privacy' despite decline in CCTV numbers

New surveillance technology threatens privacy despite decline in CCTV numbers image

Councils have halved spending on CCTVs since 2012, but they could soon be updating to new surveillance technologies, warns Big Brother Watch.

The civil liberties campaign group today published a new report, entitled Are they still watching?, that reveals between 2012 and 2015 local authorities reduced the number of CCTV cameras by 12.5% and reduced spending on CCTV by 46.6%.

Welcoming the reduction, the group urges caution suggesting the decrease is the result of austerity and could just be a lull before the introduction of potentially more intrusive technologies, including biometrics, 3D cameras and linking systems.

Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, writes in the report: ‘Despite the reduction in spending…I am certain that new and advancing technologies will see further investment by local authorities to deliver new and exciting capabilities.’

Big Brother Watch makes a number of policy recommendations in the report.

They urge local authorities to consider the risks to privacy when upgrading their surveillance technologies, and they request that councils regularly report statistics on the number of crimes detected, investigated and solved by each camera to demonstrate their necessity.

A commitment to civil debate image

A commitment to civil debate

Cllr Arooj Shah has been the target of recent threats and harassment. Leaders from all parties in Oldham have now come together to add their signature to a ‘politics, not personalities’ pledge, she explains.
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