Council set to stop funding CCTV equipment in Berwick
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The recommendations, which were approved by members of the communities and local services committee and will now go to full council for a final decision, also include that “the existing equipment should be disposed of unless a suitable partner wishes to take on the costs of its maintenance”.
The local authority has funded the provision of CCTV in the town centre since 2015. It is a substantial item of spending each year.
It has previously mentioned in a newsletter that the cameras are linked to the police station, where there is a bank of screens and some video recorders.
There is also a control panel in the station that lets someone sitting at the desk control some of the cameras.
Following some concerns over the efficiency of the system, council officers were asked to carry out a review.
A report by Town Clerk Gareth Davies explained that it was conducted via dialogue with Northumbria Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, as well as consultation with the general public that received a wide range of responses.
The report adds: “Despite repeated inquiries, no data appears to exist that demonstrates a link between the CCTV system and detection of crime, and police do not appear to record this data in any meaningful way.
“The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner appear to have no opinion as to whether CCTV should be publicly funded and regard its use as an operational matter in which they do not interfere.
“Town centre CCTV used to be one component of a partnership approach in Berwick, which also included a Shopwatch scheme where premises were also in contact via radio and a Pubwatch scheme that relied upon communications between member premises and the police.
“The elements of the Pubwatch and Shopwatch schemes described (e.g. radio connections) no longer exist. There have been significant changes in the night-time economy since the inception of these schemes, and the prevention of crime and disorder objective required for any premises licence application under the Licensing Act 2003 is routinely addressed by the license applicant installing CCTV.
“The cost of installing and monitoring CCTV has changed radically – in the course of preparing this report a local business was identified which supports 24 business customers in the local area, using a mix of technologies including mobile phone apps.
“Discussions with this company were a sharp reminder that the current system is approaching the 25th anniversary of its inception and included a brief demonstration of the way in which feeds or recordings could be aggregated. The only conclusion that could be reached is that, if we were to consider establishing a CCTV system today, it would look nothing like the existing system.
“Officers have formed the conclusion that the current system does not represent value for money.”
The other recommendations going to full council are that the council should promote the benefits of wider partnership working in the town (to address any new threats from retail theft) and that it should seek to support the police and Northumberland County Council in partnership working to address any identified alcohol related anti-social behaviour, whether arising from off sales or the night-time economy.