'More support' for CCTV after riots


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The Independent Online

More than a third of people say their support for the use of CCTV surveillance in public places has increased following the summer's riots, a survey showed today.

Three quarters of people feel safer in public areas knowing that CCTV is in operation, two thirds would like to see more CCTV in their local area, and seven in 10 would be worried if their local council reduced CCTV coverage, the survey of more than 2,000 adults found.

In all, some 94% of those surveyed backed the police using CCTV footage to identify those involved in the looting and disorder which swept through English cities in August.

Scotland Yard alone is releasing 20 new CCTV images every day in a bid to trace those involved and has more than 100,000 hours of CCTV footage to view.

Giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said he was shocked at how many of those involved in the riots were "casually indifferent to CCTV filming them".

"We're managing to catch an awful lot of them because they made this blithe assumption that you go and steal a TV set after smashing a window and you'll get away with it.

"I think it's terribly important you don't get away with it."

He added he was shocked by the "completely irresponsible feckless reaction" from those caught up in the disorder.

"I was slightly shocked that so many people just casually took to thieving, sometimes very violent thieving, just because the opportunity presented itself and the excitement ran and so on," he said.

Azadar Shah, managing director of surveillance firm Synectics which commissioned ICM to carry out the survey, added that the high-profile role of CCTV footage in the investigation was having an impact on public opinion.

"In the past, there's undoubtedly been public apprehension about the use of CCTV, but it appears people now recognise the positive role it can play within their community," he said.

But Nick Pickles, director of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "The riots ended once and for all the myth that CCTV prevents crime.

"It was useful in bringing some rioters to justice, but that is little comfort to the businesses destroyed or families left homeless.

"People might be misled into thinking they are safer with CCTV but police figures show it solves a tiny fraction of crimes.

"The general public are far more concerned about how the police prevent crime and protect our safety, and wasteful surveillance is a drain on the resources that could be deployed on the streets."

:: ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,027 adults aged 18+ from its online panel between September 30 and October 2 2011.