TWO Scottish local authorities have more CCTV cameras than Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds combined, according to new research.

Fife has the second-highest number of cameras in the UK and Aberdeen is sixth highest.

A study conducted by campaign group Big Brother Watch – through Freedom of Information requests – showed Fife has 1420 cameras, which cost just under £1 million between 2007 and 2011. Aberdeen has 942 cameras, which cost £1.78m.

However, Edinburgh City Council was the biggest spender in Scotland over the same period, amassing costs of £6.3m for just 232 cameras. Birmingham and Westminster councils spent more than £10m each on CCTV during the same period.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties at Big Brother Watch, claimed the cash could be better spent putting more police on the streets.

He said: "Britain has an out-of-control surveillance culture that is doing little to improve public safety but has made our cities the most watched in the world.

"Surveillance is an important tool in modern policing but it is not a substitute for policing. In too many cities every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer.

"There is no credible evidence that more cameras will reduce crime, yet councils have poured enough money into CCTV in just four years that would have put more than four thousand extra police officers on the streets."

However, councillor George Kay, chairman of the Fife Council's police, fire and safety committee, said: "These cameras help in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in our town centres.

"In the last three years alone we have seen crimes such as breach of the peace and petty assault fall by 61% and crimes of vandalism or malicious mischief fall by 33%.

"These systems are used by specially trained staff under the strictest conditions and assist in police detection rates, reducing crime and enhancing public safety."

A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council added: "We work in partnership with Grampian Police to operate cameras across the city. The majority of cameras are deployed in the council's housing stock and at schools, with 110 currently deployed in public spaces.

"Cameras in public spaces are used to reduce crime, trace offenders and give reassurance to members of the community."

Edinburgh City Council indicated that, while the cost of CCTV for the authority does appear high, there was uncertainty surrounding how each authority calculated the figure.

A spokeswoman for the council added: "Our high-quality CCTV network deters crime and helps the police bring criminals to justice.

"It is just one element of our highly successful strategy to reduce anti-social behaviour, and recent figures show a drop in crime of 21%, with complaints to community safety teams falling by 22%."

The research also suggests that Britain is home to 20% of the world's CCTV cameras, despite having just 1% of the world's population. There are at least 51,600 CCTV cameras controlled by local authorities in the UK – costing a total of £515m between 2007 and 2011.