Manchester puts offenders in the town hall gallery

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The Independent Online

Manchester, a city with little taste for louts, is ready to punish them with a latter-day version of the stocks.

Manchester, a city with little taste for louts, is ready to punish them with a latter-day version of the stocks.

Locals will not quite have the satisfaction of pelting offenders with rotten tomatoes but public embarrassment is still guaranteed. The names, addresses and photographs of offenders captured on closed-circuit television are to be posted up in a rogues' gallery outside the town hall, under new council plans.

There will be plenty of material for the gallery, which is to be reserved for those convicted of crimes in the city centre. Manchester's CCTV camera network numbers 35 and is expected to expand to 100 within five years. The cameras have brought 735 offences to the police's attention in the past year alone, resulting in 154 arrests. Officers at a central CCTV control centre can remotely pan the cameras through 360 degrees and zoom in on suspects.

The chairman of Manchester's city centre committee, Councillor Pat Karney, was unflinching about the hard line, yesterday. "The message is, 'We mean business'," he said. "We are standing up for the rights of the majority who are law-abiding people. Others who wish to behave in any other way will find their names on the board. This system is making it difficult for people to commit a crime in our city centre and get away with it."

Retailers say CCTV cameras have already cut shoplifting in Manchester. "If you are coming to Manchester to commit crime then beware - you are being watched," warned Supt Brian Wroe of Greater Manchester Police. Offenders' details will be pasted up on noticeboards outside the town hall from next month, if the council backs the plan.

Mr Karney said the cameras' role in offering a clue to who planted the 1996 IRA bomb in Manchester - by capturing a white van used by the bombers - meant that citizens would not consider the use of photographs to be an infringement of civil liberties.

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