'Out of control' warning as Sheffield streets see rise in CCTV cameras

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
More CCTV cameras have been added to the streets of Sheffield – but it has sparked concerns from pressure groups.

Official figures have revealed that Sheffield residents are being watched by more CCTV cameras than they were in 2019, as statistics obtained through freedom of information requests by Ironmongery Direct show there were 159 cameras controlled by Sheffield City Council in operation this summer – up seven per cent from 149 in 2019.

Data from local authorities that provided figures for both years shows the number of cameras used across the UK has increased 15 per cent over three years, from 79,022 to 91,081.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Councils were asked how many CCTV cameras they had in operation as of July 2022, and how many they operated in 2019. Of the 384 local authorities across the UK, 311 were able to provide data for both years, and a further 31 provided figures for 2022 alone.

A generic picture of a CCTV camera on the side of a building in central London.A generic picture of a CCTV camera on the side of a building in central London.
A generic picture of a CCTV camera on the side of a building in central London.

Corps Monitoring, a security firm, said that the national rise in CCTV may be due to a fall in the cost of equipment in recent years, alongside the wider availability of high-speed internet. But Big Brother Watch, a group that campaigns against public surveillance, said that the number of CCTV cameras on the UK's streets is “out of control”, and raised concerns about the potential use of facial recognition to track people.

The use of facial recognition by some UK police forces has sparked controversy in recent years, with groups including Big Brother Watch saying they are worried about the potential for bias and racial profiling through the technology.

There is little available evidence on whether facial recognition is also being used by local authorities. The Star has reported on Sheffield community groups asking the council for CCTV cameras.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said that the Government should commission an independent review into “the scale, capabilities, rights and ethics” of CCTV in the UK.

But Corps Monitoring says that the wider availability of CCTV cameras is an asset to people and businesses looking to improve their security.

In January, the Government updated its code of practice for surveillance cameras, saying that any cameras should be only used for a “specific purpose”, and that operators should be as transparent as possible regarding how they are used.