The �4.8m cost of Norfolk’s CCTV

Councils in Norfolk have spent more than �4.8m installing and running CCTV cameras over the past four years, new figures have revealed.

And the leader of Norwich City Council has said, in the face of cuts to services, it could be time for councils to look into sharing the technology.

The figures were revealed after Freedom of Information requests were submitted to more than 300 councils across the country asking how much was spent on installing and operating the cameras between 2007 and 2010.

The organisation which carried out the research – Big Brother Watch –claims cameras are a waste of money.

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, said: 'Public money is being wasted on snooping surveillance that does next to nothing to prevent or solve crime. We are being watched more than ever before and we're being ripped off into the bargain.'

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The responses showed that the biggest spender in Norfolk was Norwich City Council, which has spent �1.68m on CCTV, the 53rd highest amount in the country. Breckland District Council was eight places below, having spent just over �1.54m, with much of that sum spent to set up a new 70-camera CCTV system launched last June as part of a 10-year �3.5m contract.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: 'The �3.5m investment over a 10 year period puts Breckland at the forefront of using cutting edge technology to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and is already having a positive impact across the district.

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'Residents have repeatedly told us that community safety is one of their top priorities and this system ensures that people continue to feel safe and crime remains low in the district for years to come.

'The system represents value for money for tax payers, with the potential for revenue from the monitoring of private security systems to offset a large portion of the running costs.'

Norwich City Council has around 70 cameras in the city for which it is responsible and there is just over �400,000 in the budget for 2010-11 to run, monitor and maintain them.

Julia Wilkin, Norwich Community Alarm Service manager for Norwich City Council, said: 'CCTV is very much an asset of the city enabling both the police and Norwich City Council to help manage the community and environment for residents and visitors alike.

'Over the last six months there has been greater emphasis in using CCTV to support partnership working with Norfolk police, the business community and resident groups in counteracting anti-social behaviour and crime incidents within the city.'

In recent years, the council has been able to use grants from the Safer Norwich Partnership, neighbourhood renewal fund and the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative programme to extend CCTV into areas beyond the city centre where there is evidence of crime and disorder.

But Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council said, in a climate where local authorities are facing the squeeze, sharing CCTV might be prudent.

He said: 'When our equipment comes up for renewal, then we would want to give serious consideration to whether having a shared CCTV system with other authorities would make sense'

A spokesman for Norfolk police said: 'CCTV is an extremely useful tool for the police as footage helps officers with their investigations, in particular for appeals for information. CCTV footage can also help the police and our partners identify and address any issues that affect the quality of life in Norfolk's neighbourhoods.'

According to figures obtained by Big Brother Watch, this is how much each council spent on installing and running CCTV cameras between 2007 and 2010:

Norwich City �1,680,304

Breckland �1,540,366

King's Lynn and West Norfolk �1,045,028.85

Waveney �930,000

North Norfolk �621,359

Suffolk �262,930

Norfolk and South Norfolk said they did not operate any public-facing CCTV cameras, while Broadland and Great Yarmouth did not respond to the request.

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