CIVIL liberties campaigners have hit out at Swindon Council’s plan to link CCTV cameras across the town centre in a £100k bid to combat crime and disorder.
Swindon Council intends to use a 4G network to connect the council’s 78 cameras in car parks, five to be installed in Commercial Road, Canal Walk and Regent Street, 10 privately-owned cameras at The Parade, eight at Zurich UK Life Centre and eight at the Brunel Centre.
But national campaign group Big Brother Watch says cameras are no substitute for proper policing.
The CCTV images from most sites would be transmitted back in real time, 24/7, to the Swindon Commercial Services Limited control room at Waterside Park, at Rodbourne Cheney Industrial Estate, which already monitors cameras on housing estates.
Staff will be able to monitor the images from the Brunel cameras when the centre is closed but will have to request to access the Zurich images if there is an incident around the Tri Centre area.
Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Surveillance is an important tool in modern policing but it is not a substitute for policing.
“In too many cities across the country every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer — Swindon is no different.
“Just because officials can watch more cameras does not mean that the streets of Swindon will be any safer.
“The council should be concentrating on how to prevent crime and joining up cameras will not achieve that, as has been demonstrated repeatedly every time a new CCTV control room is opened to much fanfare only for little to change on the streets.
“All the evidence suggests that CCTV doesn’t deter crime, and yet our councils continue to pour our money into new ways to spy on us.
“Swindon Council should justify why it is spending this money on a system by publishing crime statistics to show how effective the new system has been in catching criminals and bringing them to justice.”