Right of Reply: David Fletcher

The chief executive of the British Security Industry Association responds to yesterday's article by Deborah Orr
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The Independent Culture
I was pleased to read Deborah Orr's article on CCTV in The Independent, but felt that she focused too heavily on the very small number of instances where CCTV could be abused.

CCTV has had a radical impact upon crime prevention, and many high-crime areas in this country have been transformed from no-go areas into real communities since the introduction of surveillance systems. In London and Birmingham, crime has been reduced by 30 per cent in areas covered by CCTV. These success rates are reflected all over the country where surveillance systems have been installed - in city centres, in schools, hospitals and sporting stadiums.

It has been suggested that crime is transferred to areas where CCTV cameras are not installed (Ms Orr gave the instance of crime passing from league to non-league football grounds). Yet police statistics have refuted this notion.

Both technology and legislation exists to protect privacy. The Data Protection Act makes it illegal to install cameras without putting up signs that clearly indicate cameras are present. CCTV equipment is now available which enables a private area to be blotted out from the picture.

The majority of security officers are professional. The Government's recent White Paper proposing that these officers should have licences will ensure that no disreputable individuals slip through the net. A British Standard Institution code of practice, requested by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is due for publication in the autumn. It will both protect civil liberties and ensure that CCTV evidence can be used in court.

CCTV inevitably attracts scepticism, but the acid test is the demand from the public for greater safety on the streets.

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