Making us feel safer in Lowestoft

Mark BoggisLOWESTOFT'S ageing CCTV network is to be given a major overhaul as part of efforts to fight crime and improve safety and security in the town, The Journal can reveal.Mark Boggis

LOWESTOFT'S ageing CCTV network is to be given a major overhaul as part of efforts to fight crime and improve safety and security in the town, The Journal can reveal.

New digital recording equipment will be installed to upgrade the current camera system, which will also be boosted by moving the existing CCTV control room to new accommodation.

Waveney District Council's cabinet was set to consider plans for 'strengthening its CCTV service,' at a meeting last night. Members were being told the aim was 'increasing confidence' among the public and making it more effective as a means of preventing and detecting crime.

The proposal is for the running of the system to be taken on by private partner operator Waveney Norse.

'This would mean its relocation to the Rotterdam Road depot and facilitates a potential merger with the council's central control service,' the report to councillors stated.

A recent feasibility study, which was produced by Optimum Security Services on behalf of the council, estimated that this switch to Rotterdam Road would cost �64,000.

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'The original Waveney District Council CCTV system was launched in 1998 with 19 Photoscanner dome pan, tilt and zoom cameras, which have been out of action for a number of years and are now almost impossible to maintain,' the report from Optimum said. 'At the time of this report five of these cameras are either out of action or have faults which cannot be rectified.'

Optimum recommended to the council that in relocating to the Rotterdam Road depot, a new monitoring facility be installed along with new equipment.

Last year, The Journal reported that a �70,000 project to upgrade Lowestoft's outdated CCTV security camera system - which cost �210,000 when it was installed 12 years ago - had been put on hold.

But now, provided these proposals were given cabinet approval last night, the plan is to transfer the management of CCTV to Waveney Norse on April 1. Work to relocate the service to the depot and the potential merger with central control would take place during June or July this year.

With the existing CCTV room at Compass Street, central control operates the out-of-hours contact service for the council's warden scheme and environmental health team and is based at Oulton Broad. 'The study also suggested a clear synergy between CCTV and central control (both 24-hour services) making a merger of the two appear both sensible and cost effective,' a council spokesman said. 'A merger would create a stronger, greener, more resilient service, reducing overheads.'

Under the new system, police would be able to store and review vast quantities of images - helping them in their battle to beat the criminals.

Supt Andy Quantrell told The Journal: 'Police would welcome any improvements to the CCTV system in the town, as this can be an important evidence gathering tool. We also welcome any developments that will build on the already strong partnership working between police and the district council and any measures that will enhance CCTV in the Waveney district.'

Arthur Charvonia, Waveney's assistant chief executive, told The Journal: 'Considerable investment is planned in this area and our aim is to provide better support to the Waveney community, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The community's and our partner's aspirations for the development of these services remains high, especially in the area of crime reduction, anti-social behaviour and community safety.

'Through our strategic partnership with Waveney Norse, we are looking to improve the resilience and quality of the service, so it is in a better position to adapt to future demands on its resources.'