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Volume 560: debated on Monday 25 March 2013

The Government support the effective use of CCTV to cut crime and protect the public. It is for local agencies to determine how best to deploy and use CCTV systems to meet local needs. Our surveillance camera code of practice will help them to do so.

The context in Greater Manchester is that we have lost 825 police officers from the front line since 2010. In fact, Salford is now losing 27 police officers and nine police and community support officers to other parts of Greater Manchester. Given that context of losing such a lot of the visible police presence that reassures the public, why does this Minister and other Ministers also want to make it harder, which it will be, for the police and local authorities to get CCTV?

One point on which the hon. Lady might like to reflect is the fact that crime in Greater Manchester is down by 11%. We are not seeking to make it harder to get CCTV. The hon. Lady may shake her head, but we are not. We are supporting local communities in their approach. The fact is that, yes, CCTV can help to make a difference, but it also needs to command the support of the public. That is precisely what the code of practice seeks to assure.

Since the last election, one in five councils has cut the number of CCTV cameras on the streets. Why is that?

The hon. Lady has clearly not reflected on the answer that I have just given. Ultimately, it is for local communities to decide what works best in their area. She quotes a figure, but no evidence of widespread reductions in town centre CCTV systems has been brought to our attention. Our code of practice is simply about supporting local communities. We believe in the use of CCTV. The problem under the last Government was that they spent hundreds of millions of pounds without working out whether the CCTV systems actually made any difference to cutting crime. That is our focus; that is what we will support local authorities to do.