Controversial Cowley CCTV approved

Controversial plans to install CCTV cameras along Cowley Road have finally been approved following years of conflict between city authorities and residents groups.
In a meeting held between City Councillors and police last week, it was agreed that 4 wireless CCTV cameras would be set up at strategic points along Cowley Road, statistically Oxford’s most crime-ridden area.
The cameras will cost around £48,000, plus installation, and the University will be asked to contribute.
OUSU President Martin McCluskey, who led a campaign in support of CCTV in the area, claimed to be happy with the decision.
“It’s not exactly what we wanted but we’re happy we’ve managed to find a compromise solution. What we hope to do is make people feel safer in the area.” he said. 
In Thames Valley Police’s original proposal, backed by McCluskey, they asked for 8 cameras to be set up along the road, rather than the final 4.
The long-running campaign to get CCTV in Cowley road came partly in response to statistics showing it to be the worst affected area of Oxford for crime.
According to Thames Valley Police, there have been 900 instances of violent crime in the area in the year April 2006-7, which is home to approximately 3000 students and a number of popular student venues such as the Carling Academy.
The plans have come under heavy criticism from Counsellor Nuala Ann Young, Chairman of the East Area parliament, who accused them of interfering with residents’ civil liberties.
“It [CCTV footage] could be in the wrong hands. This government has already taken away our civil liberties, condoning torture, having to get police permission to demonstrate within a mile of parliament, they even arrested a woman for reading out names of people killed in Iraq outside 10 Downing Street, so this is a worry. The fact that the UK have more CCTV than Australia and Africa combined, and London has more than the whole of the United States is something we need to think about very seriously,” she said.
Many students living in the area have, however, voiced their support for the decision.
Ashni Shah of University College saw it as a positive step towards making Cowley safer for students. “I’m really happy with the plans because at the moment Cowley’s really quite scary, walking home at night with druggies and people with bike-clippers and peoples’ houses being broken into. A guy I know had two bikes stolen in a week. There’s a lot of illegal activity in Cowley and it’s dangerous. I’d say every other student home has a story, like someone breaking in,” she said. 
Daniel Woods, also a Cowley resident, supported the plans. “I’m broadly in favour of more CCTV in Cowley. It does bother me a lot being on CCTV but it does make me feel significantly safer, so I think it’s a fair-trade to make,” he said. 
It is hoped that the cameras will be installed in early 2008.