BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council appears to have increased its level of spending on CCTV cameras by 70 per cent, according to a new report.

Big Brother Watch's report Are They Still Watching shows the cost of CCTV in an era of cuts, and highlights the spending of each local authority across the country.

Basingstoke and Deane has a total of 72 CCTV cameras - 71 fixed and one mobile.

The report shows that the borough council spent a total of £234,390.54 on CCTV cameras from 2012 to 2015, which was an increase of £96,690.54 from 2008 to 2011, when the council spent £137,700 on 61 CCTV cameras.

The costs from 2012 to 2015 were split between operation, maintenance and installation.

The council spent the most money on installation of fixed CCTV cameras between 2014 and 2015, when it paid out £1,195.

From 2012 to 2014 it spent nothing on installing CCTV cameras in the borough.

Its operation and maintenance costs of fixed CCTV cameras from 2012 to 2015 were split fairly evening over the three years, totalling £230,265.54.

While the spend on the maintenance and operation of mobile CCTV cameras between 2012 and 2014 dramatically fell.

In 2012-13 the council spent £2,030, which fell to £900 from 2013 to 2014, and then to nothing from 2014 to 2015.

But the borough council claims the figures are incorrect, and had admitted it must have given the wrong information to the Big Brother Watch for its previous report.

The council said its financial records show that the reports do not allow an "accurate like for like comparison".

It confirmed that its expenditure on Top of The Town CCTV systems between 2008 and 2011 was £228,655, and between 2012 and 2015 it was £250,554, which shows an increase of nine per cent rather than 70 per cent.

In addition to the 12 cameras at the Top of The Town which the council funds, it is responsible for 71 in total in council-owned spaces such as the Leisure Park and The Malls, but the costs of these are met by the businesses through service charges.

Chas Bradfield, head of borough development and implementation, said: "People feeling safe in the borough is a key priority for the council and CCTV contributes to providing this reassurance.

"The value of CCTV in supporting the town centre economy and contributing towards tackling crime and anti-social behaviour was recently identified in a review of the CCTV in the Top of The Town and the council’s CCTV strategy in 2014. As a result of these reviews, the council will be paying for the renewal of the CCTV cameras at the Top of The Town, which have come to the end of their life.

"This highlights the council’s commitment to ensure the safety and protection of people and places in the Top of the Town and to support local businesses to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Across the country, the report showed that local authorities have substantially cut spending on their CCVT systems over the past three years, with local authorities reducing the number of CCTV cameras by 12.5 per cent, and reduced spending on CCTV by 46.6 per cent.

Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: "A measured approach should be taken with any surveillance systems. Privacy should always be given as much weight as security."