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21 February 2012, 11:44
Councils have spent more than £500 million installing and operating CCTV over the last four years, with Leeds City Council spending almost 9 million.
The campaign group Big Brother Watch says £515 million spent between 2007/08 and 2010/11 could have put more than an extra 4,000 police constables on the streets. In total 51,655 cameras now being operated.
Nick Pickles, the campaign group's director, said: ``Britain has an out-of-control surveillance culture that is doing little to improve public safety but has made our cities the most watched in the world.
``Surveillance is an important tool in modern policing but it is not a substitute for policing.''
The figures were released following responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act from 428 local authorities.
Birmingham topped the list of big spenders, spending £14.3 million over four years on 636 cameras, followed by Westminster which spent £11.8 million on 153 cameras. They were followed by Leeds which spent £8.8 million on 253 cameras, Edinburgh spent £6.2 million on 232 cameras and Croydon £5.3 million on 84 cameras.
Tom Reeve, editor of SecurityNewsDesk.com and CCTV Image magazine, said: ``CCTV is an important investigative tool and, far from calling for a reduction in the number of cameras, the public want more CCTV.''