Birmingham City Council has spent more than £14 million on installing and operating CCTV cameras over the last four years – more than any other local authority.
The council – the largest local authority in the country – spent a total of £14.29 million on 636 cameras according to new data from Big Brother Watch.
The research, which showed in total councils spent more than £500 million installing and operating cameras, revealed only one other authority spent more than £10 million over the four year period – Westminster City Council.
The £515 million spent between 2007/08 and 2010/11 could have put more than an extra 4,000 police constables on the streets, the campaigners said.
Nick Pickles, the campaign group’s director, 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 across the country every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer.
“Despite millions of cameras, Britain’s crime rate is not significantly lower than comparable countries that do not have such a vast surveillance state.
“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.”
The figures were released following responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act from 428 local authorities.
Across England and Wales, at least £515 million has been spent by councils over four years, with at least 51,655 cameras now being operated.
A total of 18 authorities spent more than £1 million a year, the figures showed.
The third most prolific council spender on cameras was Leeds (£8.8 million on 253 cameras), while Edinburgh (£6.2 million on 232 cameras) and Croydon (£5.3 million on 84 cameras).
But in terms of the number of cameras, Leicester topped the list with 2,083 after spending £4.8 million over four years, followed by Fife with 1,420 (£0.9 million), Wandsworth with 1,158 (£4.8 million), Nottingham with 1,120 (£4.7 million) and Southampton with 1,030 cameras (£2.4 million).
Emma Boon, campaign director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “There is no sense in councils pouring taxpayers’ money into CCTV if it is doing nothing to reduce crime.
“Local authorities across the country have to find millions in savings in the coming years and part of that means ensuring value for money in existing spending.
“Some of these cameras have never helped to solve a crime or catch a criminal, so taxpayers might wonder why we are paying for them.”