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UK surveillance commissioner – Britain risks ‘sleepwalking into a surveillance state’

UK surveillance commissioner - Britain risks ‘sleepwalking into a surveillance state’

The UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter said many of Britain’s millions of cameras are useless when it comes to combating crime. He also warns that UK has too many CCTV cameras and the public is ignorant of the true extent of snooping.

RT reports: In a biting critique, he said Europeans are shocked the British public readily accepts the number of cameras we have, adding we need a public debate and greater regulation.

Porter, a former senior counter-terrorism police officer in Manchester, said the UK “must not sleepwalk into a surveillance state.”

He urged local authorities to publish exactly what information they gather from cameras, while also suggesting they scale back their use of CCTV.

Britain has one of the highest total number of CCTV cameras in the world.

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) estimated there are 5 million CCTV cameras in the UK in September 2013, with the average person being recorded by about 70 cameras each day.

Porter issued his damning criticism of CCTV amid claims that surveillance cameras fail to deter crime.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said there are too many “useless” cameras in the UK.

“There is a local authority actually in the West Midlands that did a local review and was able to reduce the cameras that were ineffective and useless to the tune of a quarter of a million,” he said.

“If that can be extrapolated across the country I think we can actually still maintain the balance of excellent surveillance but not have a promulgation of surveillance that actually is useless.”

Porter called for a public debate and greater regulation to ensure the number of cameras doesn’t spiral out of control.

“We have millions of cameras in this country and Europeans look at us askance, to be perfectly honest, and are surprised that our society actually accepts the volume of surveillance cameras that we do,” he said.

In a reference to new technology, Porter warned that the British public is in the dark about the true extent of CCTV use.

“Do they have a true and informed understanding of the current nature of surveillance? I don’t think they do,” he said.

Earlier this month Porter spoke about advancing technology that is able to predict individuals’ behavior using CCTV footage.