TWO Scots councils have more CCTV cameras than the cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool combined, new figures show.
Fife has a total of 1,420 cameras, the second-highest in the UK, while the residents of Aberdeen are covered by 942 of the surveillance devices, putting them in 6th place.
Scotland’s biggest spender on CCTV is Edinburgh, where £6.3m has gone on operating the city’s 232 cameras. Fife’s cameras cost £1m over the same period and Aberdeen spent £1.78m.
The figures were obtained by Big Brother Watch using Freedom of Information Act requests.
Nick Pickles, the director of privacy and civil liberties at Big Brother Watch, said the money should be spent on improving policing.
He said: “Britain has and 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 for policing. In too many cities every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer.
“There is no credible evidence that more cameras will reduce crime, yet councils have poured enough money into CCTV in just four years that would have put more than four thousand extra police officers on the street.”
But Fife council defended their use of the technology.
Councillor George Kay, who heads the council’s police, fire and safety committee, said: “these cameras help in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in our town centres.
“In the last three years alone we have seen crimes such as breach of the peace and petty assault fall by 61% and crimes of vandalism or malicious mischief fall by 33%
“These systems are used by specially trained staff under the strictest conditions and assist in police crime detection rates, reducing crime and enhancing public safety.”
An Aberdeen City Council Spokesman added: “We work in partnership with Grampian police to operate cameras across the city. The majority of cameras are deployed in the council’s housing stock and at schools with 110 currenty deployed in public spaces.
“Cameras in public spaces are used to reduce crime, trace offenders and give reassurance to members of the community.”
Edinburgh City Council defended its high spending, claiming there was uncertainty over how each council calculated the figure.
A spokeswoman said their CCTV network “deters crime and helps the police bring criminals to justice”.
The research shows that the UK has around 20% of the CCTV cameras in the world despite having only 1% of the planet’s population.
The UK’s 51,600 surveillance cameras cost a total of £515m to operate between 2007 and 2011.