Big Brother is definitely watching

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THE full scale of Wigan’s Big Brother society has been revealed.

Across the borough, there are a staggering 823 CCTV cameras watching over all areas, from the town centres and main traffic routes, to secluded alleys and housing estates.

But opinion across Wigan remains divided about the necessity and usefulness of the cameras that watch over the 304,000-strong population 24 hours a day.

Deputy leader of the council Coun David Molyneux said: “Wigan Council is constantly striving to drive cost savings, while maintaining a state of the art system which significantly contributes to cutting crime.

“The Big Brother survey demonstrates that, at £899 per camera, Wigan is a very cost-effective authority. This compares with more than £17,000 for Oldham and Bury and more than £22,000 for Birmingham.”

Wigan has one of the lowest crime levels, and council bosses are adamant that comprehensive CCTV coverage of the borough helps significantly in fighting crime.

The last Big Brother survey revealed that in 2010 there were 446 council-owned cameras borough-wide, but just two years on, that number has nearly doubled.

A council spokesman said that was because the figure not only included council-owned cameras, but figures for those not used in public space surveillance.

He said: “We provided Big Brother Watch with full information on public space surveillance cameras and detector-activated cameras which activate if anyone approaches a closed building, and helps to prevent vandalism and burglary.

“The difference in numbers between areas is because Wigan Council declared all cameras, not just those used in public space surveillance.”

The study showed that over a four-year period £740,000 was spent on cameras, the manning of them and their maintenance.

Coun Molyneux added: “We continue to be nationally successful in reducing risks to people and buildings and helping make our town centres and neighbourhoods safer.

“Since 2001/02, the total reported crime across the Wigan borough has reduced by 45 per cent from 34,761 reported crimes to 19,122 in 2010/11.

“CCTV helps make our area one of the safest in the region.”