Letter: Watching you

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Sir: Your report "If you're black or pretty, big brother's watching you" (29 September) gives the impression of all closed circuit television (CCTV) schemes being staffed by operators who "appear to be bigots, who often watch people for no good reason".

Lincoln City Council operates a successful city centre CCTV crime surveillance system. All the operators are employed directly by the council and were selected after a rigorous process including vetting by the police. This was followed by a three-week training course. The result has been an effective team of dedicated and committed officers.

The scheme is regulated to ensure an individual's right to privacy is not infringed. There is a code of practice, spot checks by internal audit, and a monthly inspection by a team of lay visitors. To date no complaints have been received.

There have been 310 arrests, due entirely to evidence provided by CCTV, during the first year of the scheme. This figure has risen to an average of 43 arrests per month, and there has not been a noticeable displacement of crime into other areas.

There are numerous CCTV schemes operated by local authorities which consistently reduce crime, protect public safety, operate without discrimination and offer real benefits to the community.

R M SHARDLOW

City Engineer and Surveyor

City of Lincoln

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