Wandsworth Ranks Third In Nation For CCTV Installations

Borough now has more than Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham combined

Wandsworth now has over a thousand CCTV cameras making it the third most intensively monitored local authority area in the country. This number exceeds that of Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham combined.

Only Hackney and Hammersmith & Fulham have more cameras with 2,900 in the former and 1,150 in the latter.

London councils are bucking the national trend of cutting spending on CCTV cameras, according to a new report from campaigning group Big Brother Watch.

The figures in the report for Wandsworth are incorrect due to the Council mistakenly returning a figure of over 2,200 in response to a Freedom of Information request.

A spokesperson for the Council told this web site, "Instead of the 2,200 quoted by BBW – in reality there are only 1,100 – roughly 400 'on street' ie in town centres/around transport hubs etc – plus around 700 on housing estates."

The report claims that the usefulness of CCTV can at best be described as 'variable' and says that although as a group it does not advocate the removal of all CCTV cameras and understands that they can be beneficial when used effectively, 'the benefits have never been fully assessed, other than the benefits into the investigation of car crime'.

A spokesperson for the council backed the use of CCTV saying, "When deployed in the right locations, they have proved an invaluable tool in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour and been instrumental in making sure Wandsworth remains the safest borough in inner London.

"They are constantly used by the Met to help secure convictions and gain intelligence about criminal activity. They are also used to monitor the borough’s roads and public transport network so any emergencies can be responded to immediately. In the past they have helped trace missing children and even helped the emergency services locate and save the life of a man who'd fallen into the Thames. Their use is very strictly governed by a code of conduct that means footage can only be given to the police for the detection or prevention of crime. It cannot be given to third parties like TV companies for entertainment purposes.”

Data was gathered though Freedom of Information Requests and reveals that Wandsworth has spent £997,119.81 on CCTV. This compares with Westminster's spend at over £7.3 million with 134 cameras, and neighbouring borough Richmond's spend of just under £300,000 on 103 cameras. Hackney spent just over £1million on its 2900 cameras.

Nationally the report found that there has been a decrease in the money spent on the installation, maintenance and monitoring of CCTV. Some parts of the country have scrapped their CCTV schemes altogether, while London boroughs have reported a 71 per cent increase in CCTV coverage since 2012.

The government's Surveillance Cameras Commissioner, Anthony Porter, has supported the report, "It will provide a framework and guidance to ensure that every pound of public money spent on surveillance camera systems is spent wisely. My team is developing a process... which will allow local authorities to follow an incremental and intelligent approach to considering whether a new surveillance camera system is essential."

February 24, 2016