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£1.5m to spy on us could be better spent

[pullquote]Well, since the UK is the most-spied upon nation in the world why don’t we have the lowest crime rate?[/pullquote]Civil rights campaigners Big Brother Watch have branded as shocking the huge amount of money Canterbury council has spent on spy cameras in the past three years. And we sympathise with this view.

At a time when council employees are facing redundancy, charges for vital services are rising and much-loved attractions in the city are under threat of closure, Canterbury council spent more money spying on its residents than any other council in Kent. Why?

Is it to make the streets of Canterbury more pleasant and reduce anti-social behaviour? Clearly not, as a walk through the city at night will show this is a myth, as well as comments from residents in the pages of this newspaper.

The police and council defend their snooping by saying it is an effective tool against crime. Studies in London found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

Over the past three years Canterbury council has spent almost £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money on these surveillance cameras. How many police officers could have been put on the beat for the same amount of money? The council argues people have confidence in them. We think they would have more confidence in seeing a few more policemen walking around the city late at night.

Editorial, Kentish Gazette, 9th Dec 2010

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