Thursday, May 22, 2008

Conservative UK Lawmakers Pledge to Curb Use of CCTV Cameras

Via Telegraph UK -

A Conservative government would put strict new limits on the use of surveillance cameras, David Davis, the shadow home secretary, pledged on Tuesday night.

Mr Davis told the Society of Conservative Lawyers that the widespread use of closed circuit television (CCTV) risks infringing civil liberties.

He proposed new rules on the use of CCTV and penalties for people and bodies that use the cameras to invade the privacy of the public. He also promised measures to improve the quality of CCTV footage to aid prosecutions.

Mr Davis said: "There is no argument for having CCTV which both infringes on our civil liberty but is of such poor quality it does nothing to protect us or provide evidence to bring perpetrators of crime to justice - as happens now.

"Conservatives would ensure any CCTV has to be maintained at sufficiently high standard to provide evidence admissible in court.

"We would also strictly limit access to these images to the police and other relevant agencies until they get to court, and set a mandatory punishment for breaches of these rules that infringe the privacy of the individual."

Britain is one of the heaviest users of CCTV in the world, with more than 4.2 million CCTV cameras across the country, one for every 14 people.

But there are growing questions about the cameras' value.

Det Chief Insp Mick Neville, the officer in charge of CCTV for the Metropolitan Police, last month warned that the surveillance systems are often ineffective because they are badly maintained or sited, or their footage is not properly monitored and used.

Graeme Gerrard, the head of CCTV at the Association of Chief Police Officers, has said cameras often fail to act as a deterrent for drunken yobs in town centres.

About £200 million has been spent on erecting more CCTV cameras across the country over the past 10 years, leading the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, recently to refer to "surveillance Britain".

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