Brits are being spied on round the clock by nearly 100,000 CCTV cameras operated by public bodies alone, figures show.

Campaigners blasted the “astronomical amount of surveillance” being run by councils, police and transport authorities.

Local authorities had 77,500 CCTV cameras in 2019, a 3% rise from the year before, research by investment firm Growthdeck found.

The Metropolitan Police has 3,000 while Transport for London uses 16,500 in the capital, the Times reported.

It follows a study which put the overall number of CCTV cameras in the UK at 5.2million.

Gary Robins, from Growthdeck, suggested artificial intelligence should be used to manage the footage.

Research found there are millions of CCTV cameras following a rise in home cameras

He told the newspaper it had gone “beyond the level where it is directly manageable by humans”.

Silkie Carlo, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "There is now an astronomical amount of surveillance of Brits that puts us on a par with China.

“The growing surveillance state comes with a dreadful cost to both precious freedoms and the public purse at a time when there are far greater priorities."

She described it as a nosedive for civil liberties, claiming there is little evidence CCTV helps to reduce crime.

Earlier this month, research found there are 5.2million cameras in Britain, with one camera for every 13 people.

Critics claim it comes at a cost to freedom and taxpayers' money

The popularity of doorbell cameras and home CCTV systems which cost less than £200 is said to be fuelling the surge.

Anxiety over lockdown and the increase in mail order purchases has also driven their use, according to the CCTV installation company which carried out the study.

James Ritchey, of cctv.co.uk, said: “It won’t come as a shock to most people that the number of CCTV Cameras in the UK has hit a new high, driven mainly by residents installing home CCTV in the last year.

“The popularity of doorbell cameras is relentless.”

He insisted although the figures “may send shivers down the spine of those worried about state monitoring”, most CCTV cameras “are just homeowners protecting their property”.

London's residents are the most watched with 689,000 CCTV cameras, followed by people in Birmingham with 83,000 and Leeds with 58,000.

Glasgow has 46,000, Sheffield 43,000, Manchester 39,000, Edinburgh 38,000 while Liverpool has 36,000.

Bristol, with 33,000 cameras, and Cardiff’s 27,000 made up the rest of the top 10.