Big Brother is watching you

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Every CCTV camera in Preston city centre is under review, town hall bosses said today.

And the probe could lead to the number of cameras being slashed if they are not found to be contributing to crime prevention and detection.

The review is taking place as council leaders in Preston look to account for every penny spent in the lead up to expected budget cuts later this year.

But the chairman of a task group behind the review said if the group finds CCTV cameras are popular and highly effective, it may recommend that the number is increased.

There are currently 25 CCTV cameras paid for by Preston Council watching members of the public in the city centre, mainly in the Fishergate and Friargate areas.

They are monitored by a private company from a control centre based at Preston police station. The council spends around £800,000 a year on CCTV and community safety.

Members of the task group have already visited the control centre and the bus station. They are expected to deliver a draft report in the next month.

Coun Bill Shannon, councillor for Ingol and chairman of the CCTV task group, said: “We are looking at all CCTV systems paid for by Preston Council to see if we are getting value for money.

“We are looking at whether CCTV contributes towards reassuring the public, whether it deters crime and whether it detects crime.

“If it does deter and detect crime maybe we could have more and if it does not maybe we should have less.

“Remember that times are hard and we are looking at a lot of areas and examining where every penny is spent.

“We have been asking local businesses how they feel about local CCTV, particularly in the city centre, particularly at weekends, and, by and large, it is something that has been welcomed.

“The next question is, if you welcome it, how much are you willing to pay towards it?

“I think Police Community Support Officers do a very good job of deterring crime and if they are under threat...well, you know what I am saying.”

Preston is the most CCTV-laden area of central Lancashire.

Coun Shannon said there are hundreds of CCTV cameras across the city if unmonitored and private systems are counted.

According to pressure group Big Brother Watch, the city has 136 cameras in public places. In comparison, West Lancashire has 52 cameras, Chorley has 44, South Ribble 41, the Ribble Valley 30 and Fylde 28.

The task group is also keen to establish a central protocol to ensure all CCTV systems in the city are run in the same way, under the same rules.

He added: “We don’t want any images from CCTV cameras in Preston turning up on You Tube for example.

“Whilst everyone is perfectly happy, I think, to have CCTV cameras to make sure they are protected, people are less enthused about CCTV cameras increasingly recording conversations or with face recognition.”

WHERE YOU WILL BE CAUGHT ON CCTV IN PRESTON...

Camera 1 Friargate/Ring Way

Camera 2 Flag Market

Camera 3 Church Street/Lancaster Road

Camera 4 Church Street/Cheapside/Fishergate

Camera 5 Fishergate

Camera 6 Fishergate

Camera 7 Fishergate/Corporation Street

Camera 8 Orchard Street/Market Street

Camera 9 Lune Street/Assembly Area

Camera 10 Church Street/Manchester Road

Camera 11 Kendal Street Roundabout (1)

Camera 12 Corporation Street/Fylde Road

Camera 13 Friargate

Camera 14 Corporation Street/Heatley Street

Camera 15 Avenham Street/Syke Street

Camera 16 Glovers Court/Syke Street

Camera 17 Lancaster Road/Ormskirk Road

Camera 18 Tithebarn Street/Ormskirk Road/North Road

Camera 19 Church Street/Ring Way

Camera 20 Church Street/Grimshaw Street

Camera 21 Church Street outside Miller Arcade

Camera 22 East Cliff

Camera 23 Premier House

Camera 24 Kendal Street Roundabout (2)

Camera 25 Junction of Bow Lane/Fishergate Hill