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Philip Davies and Caroline Flint form unlikely alliance (in favour of CCTV)

Highlights from yesterday's Westminster Hall debate, led by Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies:

Cctv.jpgCCTV should not be included in the list of the last government's authoritarian measures: "The last Government were one of the most authoritarian, intolerant and illiberal Governments that the country has ever seen, so I certainly do not support some of the measures they introduced. I consider measures such as identity cards and the ability to lock people up without charge, potentially for 90 days, to be authoritarian The police asking to see one’s papers is something one would expect to see in an authoritarian state; that would impinge on my individual freedom. However, CCTV cameras being installed on a particular street and forensic laboratories holding my DNA do not in any way impinge on my freedoms."

CCTV is about civil protection: "It seems to me that the word “protection” is often missed out when people quote about civil liberties. I believe that one of my civil liberties is to walk down the street safely without being the victim of a serious crime. If DNA and CCTV means that more rapists, murderers and muggers are in prison, that enhances my freedoms rather than diminishing them."

CCTV helps solve murder cases: "A Scotland Yard study into the effectiveness of surveillance cameras revealed that almost every Scotland Yard murder inquiry uses CCTV footage as evidence. In 90 murder cases over one year, CCTV footage was used in 86 of the investigations, and senior officers said that it helped in of the 65 cases by capturing the murderer on film or the movements of suspects before or after an attack. Scotland Yard’s head of homicide, Simon Foy, said: “CCTV plays a huge role in helping us investigate serious crime. I hope people can understand how important it is to our success in catching people who commit murder.”"

CCTV is cost-effective: "The average running cost of a CCTV system with 150 cameras is about £320,000 a year, and on average 3,000 events are monitored every year by each system, giving an average cost of about £100 per incident. It seems to me that that is good value for money in this age of austerity. It seems even better value when we consider that a 12-month experimental study in Burnley showed a 28% reduction in crime in an area with CCTV, compared to a 10% increase in crime in an area that relied solely on policing."

CCTV is popular with the public: "Of those surveyed for a 2005 Home Office report into public attitudes towards CCTV, 82% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Overall, the advantages of CCTV outweigh the disadvantages.” I do lots of surveys in my constituency, and fear of crime is always the top issue, whatever else is in the news. It seems, therefore, that the public, once again, are streets ahead of politicians in recognising the importance of these crime-fighting capabilities."

Caroline Flint for Labour then spoke, agreeing with Philip Davies. She gave a number of examples of effective use of CCT including this one:

"CCTV has contributed to people’s sense of personal safety. In Doncaster, CCTV cameras at the taxi cab ranks in the town centre have undoubtedly helped to solve crimes. I know of one case where some young men waiting in a queue for a taxi were attacked by some other young men. Before the victims had rung the police to inform them of the attack, the police had already seen it on camera and, by tracking the offenders by camera through Doncaster, they picked up the culprits before the victims got to the police station. That is a good example, showing how effectively CCTV can work."

Tim Montgomerie

> Related links: 'Big Brother Is Watching' by Alex Deane and A defence of CCTV from Gavin Barwell


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