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Campaign against CCTV in Forest Fields continues to grow

Notts IMC | 28.04.2009 15:40 | Repression | Social Struggles | Technology

The Nottingham City Council scheme to impose CCTV on Forest Fields is facing increasingly organised opposition. Much of the affected area has been leafletted with anti-CCTV material and campaigners against the scheme attended a consultation meeting last Thursday to make their views known. Many are worried about the intrusive and controlling nature of CCTV and think it would contribute to suspicion rather than strengthening the local community.

Whilst the police and the Council's Area 4 Management claim to be engaging in consultation their language regarding CCTV has always framed it as a necessary development. Ironically, these same people objected to a journalist taking their photos at the meeting, indicating that residents are not the only ones who are concerned about surveillance! The plans have already been scaled down from 5 camera masts in Forest Fields to masts at 3 locations but campaigners vow to continue until it is scrapped.

Newswire: CCTV proposed scheme for Forest Fields : public meeting report | CCTV in Forest Fields - public meeting on April 23rd | Forest Fields Latest: CCTV | Forest Fields CCTV Update | CCTV coming to Forest Fields unless we act NOW! | Surveillance of Nottingham city centre | Surveillance of Nottingham City Centre [Update]

Previous feature: Watching the watchers in Nottingham

Links: | No CCTV | Area 4 management

Consultation meeting report

[Original article is here.]

Area 4 Neighbourhood Management Team of Nottingham City Council has proposed a CCTV scheme for Forest Fields. Supported by the police a public meeting was held from 6.30pm until 8pm on Thursday April 23 at Djanogly City Academy on Gregory Boulevard.

After the presentation from the council and police, many in the audience were critical of the language used, such as 'will' and 'must', populating many of their statements. Thus, this gave many the impression that this was all a 'done deal' rather than an exercise in consultation. The impression was given that they wanted a rubber-stamping exercise. This caused some heat in the debate. Someone asked for a show of hands of those against the scheme, which to me appeared to be about 3 to 2 against.

There was then criticism of the way the council proposed to consult to the affected community, since it was decided to do 'one house, one vote'. Many houses in the district are of multiple occupancy of course, and it might be thought that those that live in higher density housing, might in fact be those most likely to object. Students, and those more used to communal living.

It might be argued that CCTV schemes are one of the most expensive methods to displace crime from one area to another. During the discussions, the Home Office research was quoted from:

Assessing the impact of CCTV - Home Office Research Study 292

This study is very sceptical at the use of CCTV systems in the deterrent and detection of crime [apart from car parks apparently, but there are no car parks with the schemes proposed area]. It was a point of some criticism, that the platform speakers were not familiar with the main tenets of this Home Office research. Especially since, so often, it appears to challenge their assertions on effectiveness.

Many pointed out that with the cost involved, perhaps a better use of the money might be on youth provision, stuff to do! Environmental schemes, tree planting etc, to generally 'enhance' the district. Those that feel better about their surroundings and community are perhaps, those more likely care for it.

Towards the end of the meeting, representatives of the Neighbourhood Management Team, expressed concern to the police and warden there, about my taking pictures at the event.

They spoke to me about it. I pointed out that aside from photographing the speakers on the platform, I was interesting in photographing some audience reaction. This seemed to me to be a matter of proper journalist interest at a public meeting.

Further, the subject of the meeting was CCTV / Imagery. The officers took my point that why should the management team express concerns at my photography, when they advocate the capture of imagery of the same people through their imagery?

Could it be that they can photograph 'us', but then they object when 'we' photograph them? Surely not.

Notts IMC

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Report back from the public meeting, and comments on the sham consultation

29.04.2009 18:21

I've just added our own report back from the public meeting, and current analysis of the sham consultation process.

It's online here:

Here's a repost of the text - to avoid clutter, links numbered in square brackets appear at the end:

Around 60 people came to the public meeting on April 23rd about CCTV proposals for Forest Fields, which was organised by the Area 4 Neighbourhood Management Team, police and local council.

We also managed to get an article in the Evening Post [1] to counter the previous completely one-sided pro-CCTV Evening Post article [2].

As one of the people who opposes the scheme, based on my experience at a previous public meeting (in which I was yelled at by three different people for daring to question the supposed “benefits” of CCTV for Forest Fields) I had been expecting a pretty difficult meeting, in which those who oppose would be in the minority.

I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised! People who opposed the CCTV scheme in Forest Fields made up at least two-thirds of those present at the meeting (based on a show of hands), and many had come armed with some tough questions, expecting answers.

Unfortunately, save for a few bits of vital information which should have been on the council’s door-to-door consultation leaflet, we didn’t really get much in the way of answers.

What we did find out:

* The cost of installing the masts is around £3,000 per mast - thus £9,000 for the three masts proposed for Forest Fields.
* Footage is held for 31 days.
* The maintenance of Nottingham’s CCTV network is outsourced privately at the cost of £250,000 each year.
* The CCTV scheme is intended to combat anti-social behaviour, reduce crime, and improve public safety and confidence. (Unfortunately, they still didn’t tell us how it will actually do this, but they assured us repeatedly that it will!)

The meeting was only an hour and a half long, and with most of it taken up with the presentation, there was only half an hour or so allowed for questions - let alone any in-depth discussion or debate. Most non-straightforward questions went unanswered or dodged, and reasons the public might not want CCTV here were at best glossed over, and at worst just dismissed.

As expected, the entire presentation was completely one-sided in favour of CCTV, but with very little (maybe even zero?) in the way of facts or statistics to back up the constant assertion from Inspector Gurmit Kaur that “CCTV does prevent and deter crime”. Perhaps this is because the statistics - from the government, no less - uncomfortably reveal that CCTV has a negligible effect on either of these things? Nearly all of the reasons cited for installing CCTV here were anecdotal, and unsupported by facts.

There was absolutely no mention whatsoever of any alternatives to CCTV in the presentation, and neither was there any mention of civil liberties concerns or other personal (and equally valid) reasons for not wanting CCTV here.

When confronted by one member of the audience with the Home Office CCTV Study (Feb 2005) [3], which contains figures showing that CCTV has a negligible impact on crime, Detective Inspector Rob Griffin said that he had not read the report and therefore couldn’t comment on it.

Clearly, it is a mistake to assume that the police are interested in evidence to back up their claims about the effectiveness of CCTV - especially when that evidence says the exact opposite of their own personal anecdotes.

When another member of the audience said that she didn’t like the idea of her teenage son being treated with suspicion simply because of his age and appearance, and that she didn’t want her children growing up surrounded by CCTV cameras, D.I. Griffin responded (and honestly, I kid you not): “Let me ask you this - what if someone were to come into Forest Fields and take your child?”

He didn’t back down when challenged on the ridiculous nature of this question either!

I found it incredibly telling that one member of the panel who was most keen to persuade us that we should have CCTV here, actually knew the least in terms of a factual basis to back up his claims (because the facts show the opposite), yet was only too happy to resort to fear-mongering rhetorical questions, presumably in order to halt that line of discussion.

I left the meeting with a bemused sense of wonder - at how they could have had literally months to prepare this presentation, in the full knowledge that there is substantial opposition in the area (and already knowing what some of our arguments against CCTV are), and yet still do such an appallingly bad job of it?

Luckily, you don’t have to take my word on how bad it was, because you can take a look at the slides and listen to the audio yourself on Indymedia. (Thanks Tash!)

Nobody in Forest Fields has been given enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not CCTV is a good thing for the area, and therefore the entire consultation must be viewed in this context. Despite it now being on it’s second round, it is still an entirely inadequate sham of a consultation, and I now believe this is deliberate.

From the language used in the consultation and the completely one-sided presentation, it is abundantly clear that we are not being asked to express our views so that the police and council can make a decision, but that this whole thing is an exercise in ticking a few “democratic” boxes, while we roll over and accept their foregone decision that CCTV will be coming to Forest Fields.

I know we can do better than that, and show that if we really do want to make a better Forest Fields for everyone, it has to be through a much more committed long-term process to make positive improvements in the local community, rather than wasting money on negative, externalised technical “solutions” such as CCTV to video our problems.

CCTV is a lot worse than just an intrusive waste of our money - because it actively disempowers the local community and goes against the idea that our community is our responsibility to improve, and ours alone.

We should make no mistake - the meeting may have gone relatively well for opponents of the CCTV scheme, but this is far from over yet.

I sincerely hope that we won’t let the police and the council ignore our concerns, fly in the face of all the available evidence discrediting CCTV, sham their way through a “consultation” and foist their CCTV system on us.

Let’s stand up for Forest Fields and make sure that doesn’t happen!

Links from above:


Forest Fields Folks Against CCTV
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

Letter to the Berridge councillors and council leader

04.05.2009 14:57

We have written a letter to the Berridge councillors and council leader, signed by 22 Forest Fields residents, to try and put the brakes on these CCTV proposals.

It's online here:

Forest Fields Folks Against CCTV
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

Another Evening Post article today

05.05.2009 15:57

There's another Evening Post article today, here:

Or a shorter URL:

Kim (from "Kim and Sharons News and Booze") gets in there first, but overall it's a fairly balanced piece, and I think the anti-CCTV arguments come across reasonably well (although the world "residential" seems to have been edited out of one sentence, which makes it make less sense).

Unfortunately the comments section has been hijacked by a bunch of racists and zero-tolerance policing advocates, but the article itself is OK and thankfully the comments don't appear in the printed newspaper itself.

If anyone has the willpower to "debate" with racists on the Evening Post website, then you've got more energy than me today!

Forest Fields Folks Against CCTV
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

CCTV could damage Forest Fields community self-sufficiency

28.07.2009 19:29

I want to know if there is a Nottingham City Council document which limits what public CCTV camera footage can be used for.
I would like to know which Public Sector departments are entitled to view it, apart from obvious use by the Police to identify and prosecute criminals. My house is on Leslie Road, Forest Fields, Nottingham, and I am one of many people who believe CCTV will make no positive difference to crime or anti-social behaviour in our area, and that the presence of the masts will negatively affect the image and value of properties in the neighbourhood. I am surprised my street is labelled a crime hotspot, when residents on a few streets in Radford and Hyson Green with regular street-crime issues are refused cameras.
As secretary of Forest Fields Improvement Association, I have been part of a group working to improve the neighbourhood through building community cohesion and friendships across all cultures and ages. I am told that the streets of over 250 healthy un-vandalised hanging baskets that we have produced together have increased pride in the area, care of properties and improved outsiders’ opinion. I am angry this CCTV plan may undermine our work, which I know the Council values. Some members of our group have lived here for over 30 years, and are equally unhappy. We are keen to improve the safety of residents and children walking around this area, but most don’t think these masts will be any help. We aim to help the community to better look after itself and it’s residents, and to care for it’s streets. This CCTV camera approach seems to take away residents’ personal responsibility to care for each other. We are aware some people may feel insecure walking along dark streets, and we want to help make them safer. If the City Council is seriously concerned I suggest they could look at better lighting, trimming overhanging trees and perhaps moving the shifts of Community Support Officers to cover the evenings.

I was led to believe from Government pronouncements that public CCTV should only be used for serious crime, to avoid excessive intrusion into people’s lives. However at public meetings, and in City Officials’ quotes in the media, I have heard that the CCTV footage could be shared with Nottingham City Homes to identify people breaching tenancy agreements, with school truancy officers, the DVLA, as well as officers responsible for litter and dog fouling. This seems to stretch the use of CCTV footage for beyond a broad definition of crime and anti-social behaviour. So I’m asking if there is a Nottingham City Council or National Government policy which would clearly identify whether any limits are promised?

I value my neighbours’ privacy, and would not have chosen a house which could be in constant view of a public CCTV system. I bought my house 2 years ago, and have experienced peace and a sense of safety since moving in and getting to know my neighbours. My street feels safer because one or two neighbours regularly chat to friends sitting on their doorsteps. The street is pretty quiet, and the occasional drug dealing, fly-tipping or dog fouling – or very rare attack or mugging - already shifts between different streets, and will just move to another street in Forest Fields, as has happened around CCTV cameras in other areas. The mosque on the corner, and the chip shop opposite are not known as regular hot beds of crime. The traffic and parking can be chaotic, but not criminal. CCTV Cameras would not have prevented the bump to my parked car, or break-in via my neighbour’s back yard. A police officer’s statement that if a child was abducted we would appreciate CCTV, and another’s that CCTV was the best thing to ever happen in Forest Fields show little understanding of what it takes to improve a community.

Government Info: Information Commissioner’ Office CCTV Code of Practice ICO’s Privacy Impact Assessment Handbook
I am concerned that many issues raised here may not have been addressed by Nottingham City Council.
If you would like to contact us please call 08456 306060, or 01625
My query about the limits of who can use CCTV camera footage applies to any residential or city centre street. Residents from other areas tell me they are also concerned that there has been no reply to this question since the Djanogly Academy public meeting. I suggest Nottingham City Council needs a publicly available CCTV Privacy Policy, before they proceed with installing more CCTV masts.
The Nottingham City Website page on Data Protections states
“Under the Act, data controllers must comply with eight principles for handling personal information……data must be: 1. fairly and lawfully processed, 2. processed for limited purposes,
3. adequate, relevant and not excessive”
CCTV footage is covered under the Data Protection Act . Complaints and comments on this should go to
Moby Farrands, Leslie Road Resident, Forest Fields

Moby Farrands
mail e-mail: