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CCTV Cameras

Volume 530: debated on Monday 27 June 2011

Order. The Minister is not to know this, but I should point out that question 13 has been withdrawn.

Thank you for that clarification, Mr Speaker.

The Government recognise the importance of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime, and support its use by communities. The Government also acknowledge that continued use of CCTV requires the support of the public and public confidence that systems are being used appropriately. Accordingly, we intend to introduce a code of practice for surveillance cameras and appoint a surveillance camera commissioner.

May I respectfully suggest that the Minister should visit the Furness area, so that he can see for himself the impact such cameras make in reducing crime, and then inform the House why 11 pieces of red tape have to be gone through before anyone can even consider installing fresh ones?

As I have said, I welcome the use of CCTV. It can be important in preventing and detecting crime, and I am certainly willing to discuss the issue further outside the Chamber and to talk about the impact CCTV is clearly making in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I would also say to him, however, that when his party was in government it published a CCTV strategy that included 44 separate recommendations—including that a body with responsibility for the governance of the use of CCTV in this country should be established—so quite a lot of regulation was put in place by his own Government.

I hear what the Minister says about CCTV, but why does he not put his rhetoric into practice by making it simpler for communities and councils to have CCTV?

It is important that we do not lose confidence in CCTV as a beneficial influence, and thereby lose that valuable tool in the battle against crime and disorder. We must not undermine the real benefits of CCTV. That is why we want to have a measured and proportionate scheme to regulate CCTV better and ensure that appropriate standards are put in place, so that that confidence is maintained.

Does the Minister accept that CCTV evidence was crucial in eventually bringing Levi Bellfield to justice for the murder of Milly Dowler, and is that not a timely reminder that we should be making it easier, not harder, for the police to use CCTV, and that we need more CCTV, not less?

I certainly recognise the value of CCTV, but we must be careful to ensure that there is no loss of trust and confidence in its use among communities throughout the country. We have learned what can happen in such circumstances from the experience in Birmingham, and in light of that, Sara Thornton, chief constable of Thames Valley Police, produced a report that underlined that accountability, consultation and transparency must be core considerations. That is precisely what we are reflecting in our approach.

I thought it was a core principle of this Government that we were going to do away with unnecessary red tape, but it appears that we are creating more. What regulations are we doing away with in bringing this one in?

Our approach is focused on the points I have identified: ensuring trust, confidence and genuine belief in the use of CCTV moving forward. That is at the core of our proposals, because if that is eroded, it will undermine the very use of this powerful, important tool in protecting our communities from crime.