Wakefield’s £4m CCTV bill revealed

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PRIVACY campaigners have criticised Wakefield Council for spending more than £1m a year on CCTV cameras.

A report by campaign group Big Brother Watch claims Wakefield spent £4.1m on 177 cameras between April 2007 and March last year.

Only 16 local authorities spent more during the same four-year spell.

Group director Nick Pickles said the money would have been better spent on police officers.

He said: “In too many cities across the country every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer.

“Despite millions of cameras, Britain’s crime rate is not significantly lower than comparable countries that do not have such a vast surveillance state.”

Glynn Humphries, the council’s service director for cleaner and greener, said the figure was not a true representation of ongoing costs.

He said: “The figure includes additional one-off costs, when the CCTV was moved and upgraded. It is now located in a council-owned building to reduce costs further.

“CCTV provides reassurance to the public and can be used by the police in investigations, providing a significant saving. The presence of the cameras can also deter shoplifting, helping local businesses.”

Birmingham was reported to have spent the most on cameras, racking up a bill of £14.2m.

Big Brother Watch was set up in 2009 to challenge policies which threaten privacy.