HC Deb 02 November 1999 vol 337 cc111-2W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is(a) the largest town or city without a publicly funded CCTV system and (b) the smallest town or village with a publicly funded CCTV system; [96306]

(2) what circumstances agencies under his control match images derived from CCTV camera recordings against digitised (a) passport photographs, (b) driver licence photographs and (c) police photograph databases; and what controls he operates to prevent misuse of CCTV camera recordings; [96310]

(3) what recent evidence he has to establish the effect of CCTV on displacement of crime from CCTV surveillance areas to areas without CCTV; [96304]

(4) how much departmental money has been spent on CCTV for each of the last three years; and how much matched funding this has attracted in each of these years; [96308]

(5) if he will estimate the number of times per day a person in London will on average be caught on publicly funded CCTV; [96303]

(6) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of CCTV systems in (a) reducing crime levels and (b) increasing detection rates, with particular reference to the report funded by the Scottish Office into the effectiveness of CCTV in Glasgow; [96307]

(7) if he will estimate (a) the number of (i) police, (ii) other public sector and (iii) private operators of CCTV systems and (b) the number of active CCTV cameras in England; [96305]

(8) what powers he has to regulate the visibility of (a) public and (b) private CCTV systems. [96309]

Mr. Charles Clarke

£34 million of Home Office funding has been invested in Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in England and Wales over the last three years under the CCTV Challenge competition of the previous Administration. This Government plan to invest a further £153 million over the next three years under the Crime Reduction Programme CCTV Initiative.

Almost 750 applications for England and Wales were received under the first round of the Initiative, and crime reduction partnerships have been invited to prepare final proposals on 376 bids for new and extended CCTV schemes, mainly directed at tackling vehicle crime and crime problems in housing areas, at a potential capital cost of £68 million. Partnerships and the private sector are contributing a further £15 million. The earlier CCTV Challenge competition attracted £51 million in funding from other sources.

Over 580 CCTV systems have been established with assistance from Home Office funds, involving the installation of 5,802 cameras. The shortlisted schemes in the first round of the current initiative provide for a further 3,879 cameras, including the upgrade and replacement of existing systems. Information on the number of police, public sector and private operators of CCTV systems currently in operation, and the number of cameras in use, is not held centrally.

We are concerned to ensure that CCTV is used effectively to achieve the maximum impact on crime and the fear of crime. Police operational experience and a number of research studies show that CCTV has considerable crime reduction and detection potential, particularly when used as part of a wider strategy. As with any crime reduction measure, there is a possibility of some displacement, but this is by no means inevitable. Schemes funded under the current initiative will be evaluated to build up the knowledge base of what works best in what context, as recommended in the Scottish Office report, "The Effect of CCTV on Recorded Crime Rates and Public Concern about Crime in Glasgow".

To retain public confidence, CCTV must be used fairly and lawfully. All schemes funded by the Home Office are required to comply with codes of practice governing their control and operation. The requirements include the need to ensure that cameras are visible to the public and that attention is drawn to them by appropriate signage; and that the recorded material is properly safeguarded and controlled. CCTV systems are also required to meet the requirements of data protection legislation, and the Data Protection Act 1998 provides for the first time a framework for the statutory regulation of schemes. Controllers will be required to notify details of their processing of personal data to the Data Protection Commissioner and comply with a set of enforceable principles of good data handling practice. Our aim is to bring the Act into force on 1 March 2000.

Proposals in our recent White Paper on the regulation of the private security industry, currently under consideration, would require operatives and employees involved in installing and monitoring CCTV systems, and managers and directors of companies, to be licensed.

Images derived from CCTV systems are not routinely matched against digitised images used on passports and driving licences. I understand that in one London Borough CCTV images are scanned against digitised police photographs in order to help trace the movement of known offenders.

No information is available on the largest town or city not to receive funding for CCTV or the smallest village to have been given an award. Nor is it possible to say how often someone in London would be within the view of publicly funded CCTV cameras, as this will depend entirely on individual circumstances.