CAMPAIGNERS have revealed that Wakefield Council has run up a £4m CCTV bill in the last four years.
Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch released figures earlier this week which showed the council is one of 18 local authorities spending more than £1m a year on surveillance.
According to data gathered through the Freedom of Information Act the cost of running 177 cameras across the district between April 2007 and March 2011 came to £4.11m.
Glynn Humphries, service director for the council’s cleaner and greener department, said: “The costs quoted are not representative of the yearly ongoing costs.
“The figure includes additional one-off costs when the CCTV was moved and upgraded. It is now located in a council owned building to reduce costs further.”
Statistics show councils across the country have spent more than £515m between 2007 and 2011 – equivalent to the wages of 4,121 police constables.
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, 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. In too many cities across the country every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer.”
In comparison Leeds City Council spent £8.76m on CCTV – the third highest figure in the country – whereas Bradford Council spent £3.6m and Calderdale Council spent £1.22m.
The Wakefield district is now covered by more CCTV cameras than Cambridge or Westminster.
Mr Humphries added: “CCTV is one of many tools that the council and its partners use in combating crime and anti-social behaviour.
“CCTV provides reassurance to the public and can be used by the police in investigations, providing a significant saving. The presence of the cameras can also deter shoplifting, helping local businesses.”