More than 350 CCTV cameras are watching the public in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

There are 316 cameras in Tauranga City and 39 in the Western Bay District which monitor public spaces, traffic and council facilities, according to information released to the Bay of Plenty Times.

In Tauranga, there are 69 traffic cameras, 47 cameras for crime prevention and a further 200 cameras operating in council facilities.

Of the total, 269 are directly accessible from the video management system used by the Tauranga Transport Operations Centre, according to data supplied by operations centre senior traffic systems engineer Richard Eaton.

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Tauranga City Council manager of issue resolution and governance Kirsty Downey said the cameras were used for traffic monitoring, public safety and the maintenance of law.

"Police have stated there has been a reduction in crime and disorder offences in the CBD since the introduction of CCTV cameras some years ago," she said.

"There has also been improvements in traffic management with Transport Operations Centre staff using CCTV cameras to control traffic flows and react to incidents on the roading network."

Traffic cameras were spread throughout the roading network, mainly around signalised intersections.

Crime prevention cameras were predominantly located in the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui CBDs. Other council facilities had cameras internally located for safety and crime detection purposes.

Cameras are monitored by transportation staff from 7am to 5pm on weekdays and by a dedicated camera operator each evening from 8pm to 4am.

Ms Downey said the operational costs for the CCTV network were about $90,000 annually.

The Western Bay District Council operates 39 CCTV cameras monitored by a local security company.

There are five at Barkes Corner, 20 in Te Puke, six in Maketu and eight in Katikati.

Kevin Jefferies, the council's group manager of customer and community services, said cameras were used to capture information that could be used to investigate a crime and also as a means of deterring a crime, such as bag snatching, car conversion in a public car park or damage being done to property.

To explain the effectiveness of the cameras, Mr Jefferies provided statements from local police officers.

Acting Sergeant Logan Dingle of Katikati police said: "Having quality CCTV systems is both a great investigation tool and a great prevention tool.

"Such calls for service often result in the prevention of serious assaults, dishonesty offending and road trauma."

Senior Constable John Fitzgerald of Katikati police said: "It is a huge deterrent, as it is now common knowledge with locals that Katikati has CCTV coverage in the main street."

Sergeant Mark Holmes of Te Puke police gave examples of CCTV's use in Te Puke, such as preventing alcohol-related disorder in a supermarket carpark, apprehending people selling drugs outside the town hall, and alerting police to assaults and incidents of family violence in and around the CBD.

Mr Jefferies said the council spent $3744 on monitoring the cameras in the past year.

An additional $4328 was spent on infrared camera upgrades.

Extra data and phone line costs at Maketu and Katikati cost $201 and $159 per month respectively.

NZ Council for Civil Liberties secretary Kevin McCormack said that, while increased camera usage was part of living in a modern world, he would like to see more transparency in the monitoring of the footage.

"I think the publications of statistics would be a good outcome. It's a fact of life, there's no putting a genie back in a bottle."

Mr McCormack said he was sceptical of the argument that cameras created a deterrent to would-be criminals.

"The real value of these is to be able to have the ability to review a location and activity after the event."