Future of town’s CCTV system is under scrutiny
- Credit: Archant © 2011
A decision on the future of the CCTV provision within Lowestoft is likely to be made next month.
It comes after a community meeting was held as part of a comprehensive review of the CCTV system within the town.
Organised by Lowestoft Town Council, the meeting at the Riverside offices last Friday evening attracted a good turnout as members of public, community groups, councillors, town centre leaders and the police were among those discussing the service.
With a presentation from Waveney Norse – who currently operate the CCTV system – Ian Gregory, general manager at Waveney Norse and Sue Keeble, operations manager at Waveney Norse, gave an overview of the service.
With the town council reviewing the assets and services that have been transferred to them by the district council, the mayor of Lowestoft, Ian Graham, said: 'We inherited the service and we're here to evaluate everything and come to some decision. We are in a period of review and this is our first consultation meeting looking at the state of CCTV in Lowestoft and its future.'
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After questions were posed about the quality of the CCTV equipment – particularly after midnight when the street lights are switched off – and the locations of the CCTV network of cameras, the meeting heard that of these 62 cameras 'the quality,' in percentage terms, was described as 7pc perfect; 49pc good; 33pc limited use requires replacement and 11pc not in use requires replacement.
Town councillors asked a number of questions, with Amanda Frost '100pc in support of CCTV' but she expressed concerns about CCTV staff 'answering calls for Felixstowe,' when the council was 'paying for services specific to Lowestoft.'
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Concerns were also expressed by councillor Alice Taylor over the 'number of cameras that don't work, or don't work well' given this 'inherited system costs us £290,000.'
Ms Keeble said: 'The system does need some investment as some of the hardware needs upgrading. More than 50pc of the cameras are in good condition and working perfectly well but there are some cameras in need of attention.'
Mr Gregory added: 'There is a golden opportunity here to review the service. It is now in your gift to decide where you want the cameras.'
Mr Graham said the next step would be decided after further discussions at the town council meeting next month.
Inspector Liz Casey, who is responsible for the two Safer Neighbourhood Teams in the Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay locality, said CCTV is 'essential.'
She said: 'It is a fantastic tool to help us prevent crime, detect crime and keep people safe. Evidently its priceless – I am a big advocate of CCTV.'
Lowestoft Vision chairman Danny Steel said the CCTV service 'has to continue' while vice chairman of Lowestoft Vision, and Britten Centre manager, Dan Poitras, said that the CCTV system and the work that has been done to 'cut crime' in the town centre 'has been immense.'
Clare Strachan, chairman of Fen Park Friends, said having a CCTV camera within the park was 'a great asset,' as without it 'the park would be a haven for crime.'
She added: 'CCTV is key. It works very well and the whole town will crumble without CCTV – we need it.'
After Waveney's CCTV network was first installed in 1998, the service was transferred from Waveney District Council to Waveney Norse as a new control room was unveiled at the Norse depot in Rotterdam Road, Lowestoft in 2011.
With the CCTV suite monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there are currently five full time staff plus casual staff, who monitor 62 cameras. As well as monitoring the CCTV cameras, staff locate images and instruct and assist police officers. Staff monitor the safety of lone workers and the shop radio scheme for the town centre. With police officers updating CCTV operators regarding incidents, missing persons and persons of interest, the CCTV suite is the first point of contact for major incidents/emergencies, while also providing information and assistance to members of the public out of hours.
Last year, 1,296 calls were made out of hours between Monday to Friday (5pm to 8am the next morning). There were also 1,493 police incidents and requests last year.