POLICE who battled for years to get CCTV in Oxford’s Cowley Road have refused to say whether the cameras have helped cut crime in the street.

The security cameras were installed more than two years ago following a campaign by the police, despite opposition on civil liberties grounds from the local Green Party.

However, the force turned down Oxford Mail requests for figures about how many crimes there had been in the street, or how often the cameras had helped collar troublemakers.

It then also refused to answer a Freedom of Information request, claiming it would cost too much money to get the information.

The system, owned by Oxford City Council and operated by police, was launched in January 2009 after a 15-year battle.

Three cameras went live at locations in Princes Street, Manzil Way and Southfield Road and cost about £48,000. All three can be rotated 360 degrees.

Last night, campaigners said Thames Valley Police’s response was not good enough.

Charles Farrier, from the No CCTV campaign group, said: “I expect the crime figures would show no change at all, which is what we would expect given the trends in other places.

“If this is the case, it would show that the cameras have been an expensive waste of taxpayers’ money which could have been much better spent elsewhere.”

The idea of CCTV along Cowley Road was first discussed in the early 1990s ,and has been strongly backed by the police.

The Green-controlled east area parliament opposed the introduction of CCTV until late in 2007, when they agreed to support a scaled-down scheme.

Green councillor for St Clements, Nuala Young, said residents had a right to see the figures.

She said: “We asked to see the figures after one year, so we could assess how effective the cameras had been.

“So far we have not received them, and we will now be asking for them again.

“People have a right to know what is going on. Maybe the figures do not justify the cameras.”

Elizabeth Mills, chairman of the Divinity Road Residents’ Association, said: “I am sure as a deterrent they are effective.

“But whether they are being used to actually solve crime, I am not sure.”

She added: “I am not sure the cameras are in the right place.”

Jane Shields, the force’s information compliance researcher, said the Freedom of Information request was too expensive.

She said: “The cost of providing you with the information is above the amount we are legally required to respond to.

“Thames Valley Police does not hold prosecution or conviction data accurately and any attempt to retrieve the number of times CCTV was used in a specific case would involve a complicated and prolonged search of records which would not necessarily provide accurate results and would exceed the appropriate cost limit of £450.”

Last night, Thames Valley Police also declined to comment.

But speaking when the cameras were launched, in January 2009, Supt Andy Murray said: “This is a good day for Cowley Road.

“We have listened to the local community and the majority of people welcome CCTV cameras.

“We think it will add to people’s sense of safety and security.”


  • March 2010: Theo Dalton, 19, and Steven Mundy, 22, admitted charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm over an attack on Ricky Lawrence outside the Corridor pub, in Cowley Road, last October after being caught on CCTV.
  • December 2010: Man spotted getting into a car who was probably intoxicated. Officers located vehicle and arrested man.
  • January 2011: Reports of man and woman in heated argument. Related to another incident with a man on a bike who had a knife. Officers reviewed footage and found relevant footage which was used to charge the man.
  • January 2011: Two males spotted walking past the Co-op. One of them took a bike from outside the shop. Officers attend and arrest.
  • March 2011: PCSO pointed out a known male wanted for breach of a court warrant. CCTV viewed and found male running and getting on a bus. Officers tracked down bus and made arrest.