Revealed: Redbridge Council cuts budget for CCTV cameras

Redbridge Council has cut its budget for CCTV cameras. Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire

Redbridge Council has cut its budget for CCTV cameras. Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Redbridge Council will cut investment in CCTV cameras by more than £150,000 this year, figures reveal.

The Local Government Association says surveillance cameras play "a vital role" in keeping communities safe, both on the streets and in the courtroom.

In the 2019-20 financial year, Redbridge Council will invest £200,000 in CCTV, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show.

This is a net figure, which is the total amount spent, minus any income the council makes.

This year, the cost of surveillance is set to be 48per cent lower than in 2017-18, when the council reported a net spend of £383,000.

That year, the council spent £747,000 on installing and maintaining surveillance systems, and brought in £364,000 in income.

Local authorities can make money from CCTV by charging other organisations, such as hospitals or private companies, to use the existing network of cameras and operation rooms.

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The LGA said councils prioritise investment in CCTV where possible, and argued that a good network of cameras can have wide-reaching benefits.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities board, said: "Public surveillance cameras have helped bring criminals to justice, increased conviction rates after crimes are detected, and are an important tool in tracking terrorist suspects.

"CCTV protects the public by dissuading crime and anti-social behaviour, assisting police officers on the ground and supporting prosecutions."

Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter, who works with the Home Office to regulate the use of CCTV cameras, said that there is not much to suggest that CCTV is an effective deterrent for criminals.

He said: "However, the evidence that it supports investigations is overwhelming. It is used by police in 99pc of homicide investigations and all counter-terrorism operations.

The societal value of CCTV cameras is difficult to measure, said Mr Porter, but they are most useful in the courtroom, where an early resolution to a major crime could save the taxpayer millions.

He added: "In 2014, local authorities were questioning the use and value of analogue CCTV. Now, with improved technology and connectivity, they have a much more enhanced capability."

Across England, a net £54.3 million has been allocated to CCTV systems by local authorities for the 2019-20 financial year, up 5pc on 2017-18.

That year, councils reported a total income of more than £26 million from surveillance cameras.

A council spokesman said: "We refute that there are any planned cuts to the CCTV budget.

"Despite the government's swingeing cuts to council and police budgets, we're standing up to crime and investing an extra £3.5m in state-of-art CCTV and ANPR cameras to counter trouble hotspots and to protect against all types of crime and anti—social behaviour.

"In the first month alone our 41 ANPR cameras flagged up 676 vehicles to the police.

"We're always seeking ways to deliver better value for money, but we're clear that we're stepping up the fight against crime in Redbridge."