SOUTHEND is one of the towns with the highest number of CCTV cameras - and there could be even more coming soon.

Southend has 162 cameras across the borough, including the town centre and seafront, putting it in 11th position nationally among the country’s towns, according to RS Components.

The electrical component company used data from Big Brother Watch and the Office for National Statistics to rank the towns and cities across the country.

In August Southend Business Improvement District announced that state-of-the-art CCTV cameras are to be installed in 32 locations.

All analogue cameras will be replaced with digital versions to increase coverage and new cameras will be placed outside the Forum, in Elmer Approach and Dick de Vignes bar in Warrior Square.

In other areas, Basildon has 106 cameras, placing it 29th.

Southend and Basildon are both a long way behind Woking, which takes the top spot for the towns with 691 cameras.

In the city category, Chelmsford was ranked fourth, with 380 cameras.

The use of CCTV cameras has been highly controversial in the past, with some arguing that their use goes against rights to privacy but others supporting their use for crime detection and deterrent.

Katy Saunders, 27, of Southend, said: “I fully support having CCTV cameras in town centres.

“People who aren’t up to no good have nothing to worry about and the benefits of having them far outweigh the negatives.

“I don’t think people should be concerned about the town getting more cameras - the more the better in my opinion.”

However, Martin Richardson, who owns Happidrome Arcade, in Southend, said: “CCTV is only as good as the person watching it.

“Then you need to convince the Crown Prosecution Service to take action.

“That can be a waste of time.

“We have more than 40 cameras in the arcade.

“We watch and deal with the problem.

“All the TV programs seam to have police on hand just waiting for the call from the control room.

“We called police in Southend last year after we caught an arsonist setting the abandoned houses alight.

“We held the person for 45mins but there were still no officers came so we let him go.”

SOUTHEND Council said it is proud to have one of the most comprehensive and best CCTV networks in the region. 

A spokesman added: “The council’s CCTV suite is monitored 365 days a year, 24 hours a day by experienced operatives who are both trained in and adhere closely to the strict national guidelines on CCTV monitoring. 

“Because we adopted early, the technology is now getting quite old, and we are therefore investing in replacing the system to ensure they are effectively tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. Digital CCTV cameras can zoom further and pan wider than the council’s current cameras, meaning a larger area can be effectively covered by a single camera and produce images of a higher resolution.

“We have also reviewed which areas of the town that should be covered by CCTV.”

A Basildon Council spokesperson added: “These figures relate to the whole of the Basildon borough. 

“CCTV is a powerful tool to assist with efforts to combat crime and disorder whilst enhancing community safety, and we work closely with Essex Police.”