Council bosses axe CCTV cameras in crime-ridden areas - because they 'infringe human rights'


Last updated at 23:36 29 February 2008

Using CCTV to stop crime infringes human rights, council leaders in Dartmouth say

CCTV cameras cannot be installed in a crime-ridden area because they infringe human rights, a council said yesterday.

It ruled that monitoring "problem hotspots" would interfere with citizens' right to privacy.

Incidents of anti-social behaviour, including binge-drinking and vandalism, are said by residents to have soared recently in the genteel resort of Dartmouth in Devon.

But the local council refuses to install cameras, saying it would rather tackle the problem by improving street lighting and visibility.

Nick Hodgson, the head of property services for South Hams district council, said: "The council was advised that the use of CCTV could contravene the Human Rights Act.

"We also took advice from the police who indicated the use of CCTV would not aid the legal process and was unlikely to assist in identification of offenders. CCTV is only one of the number of measures to combat anti-social behaviour."

The council's decision flies in the face of Government plans for the biggest-ever expansion of the surveillance network, with tens of thousands more closed-circuit TV cameras scheduled to appear across Britain.

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The council wants to combat vandalism in places such as Royal Avenue Gardens in Dartmouth with more lighting rather than putting up CCTV cameras

More than £79million will be put towards 250 new or expanded schemes to cover the centres of cities, towns and villages, as well as hospitals, trains, buses and even rural beauty spots.

The announcement has led civil liberty campaigners to demand tighter regulations for those operating the CCTV network - which is already the largest in the world - to prevent unjustified invasions of privacy.

Dartmouth resident Angela Pitman, a mother of two, is in favour of CCTV.

"It is absolutely disgusting that the council would prefer to think of the criminals and their human rights rather than ours,"' she said.

"What about us, the people who live their lives by the law, who are the victims of anti-social behaviour? When will the council see sense and stop taking the side of the yobs?"

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