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Volume 558: debated on Monday 11 February 2013

The Government support the effective use of CCTV to cut crime and protect the public. It is a matter for local agencies to determine how best to deploy and use CCTV systems to meet local needs.

In Liverpool, the City Watch team have used state-of-the-art CCTV to deter crime and antisocial behaviour and to identify and convict those guilty of offences. As a result, according to the UK Statistics Authority, Liverpool is now the second-safest city in the country. Given this success, why does the Minister want to make it harder for the police and other local authorities to get CCTV for communities who want and need it?

We certainly recognise the important part that CCTV can play in making communities safer, and the hon. Lady has mentioned the City Watch programme in Liverpool. The Government are not seeking to make it harder to use CCTV; rather, we are seeking to put in place steps to ensure that its use is effective and commands the support of the public and, in so doing, that it can continue to carry out its important work.

Local communities and local authorities are looking to install yet more CCTV cameras, which make them feel safer, more secure and more assured. Why are the Government, through the bureaucracy involved in accessing CCTV, preventing more cameras from being installed on the country’s streets?

I do not accept that more bureaucracy is preventing CCTV cameras from being adopted. Under the previous Government, a centralised control mechanism was put in place, but it did not actually assess whether the CCTV systems were effective or cutting crime. We think that these decisions are better made locally, but we also want to ensure, through a code of practice, that CCTV is proportionate and effective, and delivers what it needs to deliver.

CCTV provides courts with unbiased evidence; leads to people changing their plea from not guilty to guilty; saves the police and the courts time and money; brings criminals to justice; and proves people’s innocence. The Government should be doing all they can to roll out CCTV as far as possible, but they are not doing so. Why do they not want to roll it out to more local communities?

I say to my hon. Friend that the Government support the use of CCTV and that it can be a very important way of bringing criminals to justice. He may wish to speak to his police and crime commissioner, who will hold a new community safety budget, part of which they may wish to apply to support CCTV projects.

Order. The hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) gesticulating the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) in the direction of the Opposition Benches is a triumph, surely, of optimism over reality.

Medway council is being developed as a regional CCTV hub, helping prevent crime and saving other councils money. What is the Minister’s policy on encouraging the development of CCTV hubs?

I recognise my hon. Friend’s point and, equally, how it is possible to pool together resources and systems to make CCTV systems that much more effective. Those are precisely the sorts of approaches that we are seeking to advance through the code of practice, and I am sure that the surveillance camera commissioner will also examine my hon. Friend’s point.