CCTV CAMERAS in Cowley Road may have just pushed drug-dealing into side-streets out of their view, a top police officer and residents believe.

East Oxford Insp Marc Tarbit said the three CCTV cameras had not had a noticeable impact on the level of drug-dealing in the area but said officers were tackling the issue.

The cameras were installed in 2009 following a 15-year battle after police scaled down a bid for eight devices following civil liberties concerns.

Asked if the introduction of CCTV cameras had an impact on drug dealing in the area, Insp Tarbit said: “No, not really.

“The drug dealers are aware of the cameras.

“It may have pushed it out of the main thoroughfares but there are areas you can deal that won’t be in camera coverage.”

The area was “not awash with drugs” and neighbourhood officers on bicycles are the “teeth” of the war on crack and heroin addicts, he added.

Under the £48,000 scheme, cameras were set up on the corners of Princes Street, Manzil Way and Southfield Road.

Green city councillor Nuala Young said she had warned drug dealing would be pushed elsewhere.

She said: “There is definitely a drug-dealing problem and residents are very aware of it.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that the cameras haven’t made a difference. They have been a waste of public money.”

Mum-of-two Clare Howard, of Leon Close, opposite Manzil Park, said: “It has always been there in the park, we call it the junkie park.

“Now it has pushed the problem away, you see it down the side streets.”

A Cosin Close resident of 20 years, who did not want to be named, said: “It was really, really bad a couple of years ago but they have got 90 per cent of it sorted.

“But I don’t think it was the cameras that contributed to that. It was the removal of the main offenders.”

Yet Jan Bartlett, of Premier Lettings near Manzil Way, said: “The dealing that was going on around Manzil Gardens where people were openly dealing right outside my office has stopped and we see none of that now.”

She said she knew of incidents where CCTV was used to bring offenders to justice.

Mrs Bartlett said: “When people walk along Cowley Road they won’t see open dealing any more.

“I have definitely seen a positive impact and generally we feel more safe because of the cameras too.

“I think the main thoroughfare is virtually dealer-free which is a huge improvement.”

We reported in May how Thames Valley Police 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 force again declined to provide the figures on Friday. Spokesman Rebecca Webber said data on how crimes were solved, including use of CCTV, was not searchable.

She said: “It would require every officer who had investigated a crime which occurred in that area being contacted, asked if CCTV was a factor, if it was if it was responsible for solving the crime, and finding out from them or the court if the person charged had been convicted.

“This is not practicable or a good use of police resources.”