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POLICE CHIEF ATTACKS 'ORWELLIAN' CCTV

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A senior police officer has warned that the growing use of close circuit television (CCTV) cameras risks creating a...
A senior police officer has warned that the growing use of close circuit television (CCTV) cameras risks creating an 'Orwellian' society in Britain.

Ian Readhead, deputy chief constable of Hampshire police, told BBC1's Politics Show yesterday that the surveillance method was increasingly being used in areas with low crime rates.

His comments come after it emerged that parish councillors in the small town of Stockbridge, an area policed by the force, had spent£10,000 installing CCTV there.

Questioning whether the use of CCTV could be justified in low crime areas Mr Readhead said: 'I'm really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras and what comes next.

'If it's in our villages are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner,' pondered the police chief, who said that he would not want to live in such a society.

The presence of CCTV cameras in the UK has increased significantly in recent years, with an estimated 4.2 million cameras - one for every 14 people - currently deployed.

But former home secretary David Blunkett told the Politics Show that it was 'reasonable' for communities to use CCTV when they had good reason to believe that people were 'up to no good'.

He stressed that CCTV merely provided a similar level of surveillance that was provided by a police officer on the beat.

However raising further doubts about existing police powers, Mr Readhead also warned that the ability of detectives to retain DNA for indefinite periods should be limited and overseen by an independent body.

Calls for the use of CCTV to be curbed follow a previous warning from information commissioner Richard Thomas, who told the Times in 2004 that Britons were in danger of 'sleepwalking into a surveillance society' as a result of government plans to introduce ID cards.

Launching a debate on the current extent of surveillance, including CCTV, last November the information tsar subsequently concluded that society was 'in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us'.

Communities

Policy & politics

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