General Election 2015 – What does it mean for public CCTV?
Watch out for hecklers and flying eggs, because it’s General Election time again! Whilst this year’s circus has sadly been devoid of deputy PMs punching protesters, it promises to be one of the closest races of modern times. Indeed, current polling suggestions we may wake up on Friday morning no closer to knowing who has actually walked away from General Election 2015 in government. Whilst this is all of interest for politics-watchers, what we want to know here at SpyCameraCCTV is how the result of the election could impact the security industry, in particular public CCTV systems monitored by the police?
Feeling the impact of cuts
As part of the coalition’s plan to resolve the country’s huge deficit in 2009, large spending cuts were handed out to direct police funding, as well as limiting local council budgets. This all means that police forces across the country have been feeling the squeeze. The government stressed that forces should be able to find efficiency savings on “back room operations”, preserving the visible element of front-line policing. Whilst this suggests legions of faceless bureaucrats facing the chop, in reality one of the first things to come under scrutiny for forces across the country has been the installation and monitoring of public CCTV systems. This has led to a spate of towns either closing down units, or reducing the hours that they are monitored, as the BBC highlighted earlier this year in an illuminating article-
- Cornwall slashed their CCTV budget in April 2011 by £350,000
- Birmingham’s city centre CCTV system will no longer have 24/7 monitoring
- Dyfed-Powys police cut funding for CCTV monitoring earlier this year
- Anglesey completely shut down their CCTV system in 2014 before finding emergency funding from community councils
- Last year Derby county council debated switching off 48 CCTV in the busy city centre
- CCTV coverage was lost across North Norfolk in 2013
- 26 cameras in Penrith were shut down in 2011
This has naturally been a boon to privacy campaigners, with many pointing to studies that suggest CCTV systems have had little to no deterrent effect in cities where they have been installed. Critics of the closures however, point to the many high profile cases that have only been solved thanks to the release of CCTV images, and a 2009 report in the Telegraph that suggested that a staggering 7 out of 10 murder cases were now solved using the help of CCTV evidence.
So what does all of this mean when it comes down to your choices on Thursday? Well, unfortunately- as with so many other issues in this election- the options are rather unclear. The Tories have however suggested they will be looking for £30 Billion worth of spending cuts over the course of the Parliament, with £12 Billion set to come from the welfare budget. Whilst they have not been forthcoming with details as to where these would hit, it is widely expected that this would squeeze policing and local council budgets even more. Whilst Labour have been similarly tight lipped about specific cuts, they have committed to a less severe rate of spending reductions, potentially leading to less strain of CCTV budgets. Unfortunately, with a hung parliament all but certain, there is the distinct possibility that whatever slim plans were place currently could be thrown out the window come Friday morning…