“WE DON’T want to Southampton to be like Big Brother.”

That’s the view of one politician after new statistics revealed Southampton is one of the most watched cities in the UK.

Research has shown that outside London, Southampton is seventh when it comes to the number of CCTV cameras managed by the local authority.

The data, collected by Aira and RS Components, reveals that throughout the city 335 cameras have been installed – which is more than major cities including Cardiff (325), Manchester (263) and Sheffield (159).

But Denise Wyatt, leader of the Southampton Independents, fears the city risks becoming like Big Brother from George Orwell’s novel 1984.

She said “people have a right to privacy”, adding: “We believe that Southampton people need to be involved in the debate over what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable, use of CCTV.

“It should be residents who decide, not authorities.”

Southampton City Council confirmed the cameras provide a CCTV footprint of approximately 12 square miles on all main arterial routes, city and district centres, and are monitored by accredited staff from a control room every hour of every day.

Cllr Dave Shields, cabinet member for health and community safety, feels the cameras have had an effect on crime levels but added: “Cameras are not the only solution, however in the same sense they can help prevent crime.”

Despite the high number of cameras, some still officials still believe more are needed. Former Tory leader Jeremy Moulton said he regularly gets requests for cameras in the community to help catch criminals.

He added: “I would be keen to see the city council, police and Balfour Beatty (the city’s CCTV provider) doing more.

“It would support the police in a time of constrained budgets and I think would make a difference to keeping streets safer.”

Southampton is one of the few cities to have CCTV in taxis and soon its buses as well.