Eastleigh council spends more on CCTV surveillance than major cities like Coventry, Oxford or Preston shock figures reveal.
The recent addition of two temporary CCTV cameras in upper market street to monitor bus station activity has thrown the use of CCTV in the town centre into the spotlight.
Despite assurances from the council that Eastleigh is an area with low crime, the council has installed around 80 cameras and according to a freedom of information request by website bigbrotherwatch has spent £814,957 on CCTV between 2007 – 2010.
The council has also borrowed £1 million in order to refurbish the Southampton road Multi story car park – a process which will see the installation yet more CCTV cameras.
The town’s cameras are monitored in a top secret control room located above the council office in the swan centre under the supervision of the town centre manager.
Although people who visit the swan centre are routinely spied on and photographed by CCTV without consent, they are not permitted to take any photographs themselves.
Last April a 71 year old Fair Oak man was prevented from photographing a car exhibit by security guards.
Town centre manager Dee Buffone told the Daily Echo:
“This policy has been adopted to protect members of the public from being photographed without their consent.”
In Westminster the Conservative coalition are pushing through legislation – the Protection of Freedoms bill – which will allow any member of the public to refer their local council for a judicial review if they feel the use of CCTV is unjustified.
Ironically, despite spending over £800k in order to film members of the public, Eastleigh Council recently turned down a request from a resident to have CCTV cameras installed in the council chamber on the grounds of cost.