Ashfield District Council to cut CCTV spend

Ashfield District Council will cut investment in CCTV cameras by thousands of pounds this year, figures reveal.

The Local Government Association says surveillance cameras play "a vital role" in keeping communities safe, both on the streets and in the courtroom.

Ashfield District Council to cut CCTV spend

Ashfield District Council to cut CCTV spend

In the 2019-20 financial year, Ashfield District Council will invest £58,000 in CCTV, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show.

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This is a net figure, which is the total amount spent, minus any income the council makes.

This year, the cost of surveillance is set to be 17 per cent lower than in 2017-18, when the council reported a net spend of £70,000.

That year, the council spent £83,000 on installing and maintaining surveillance systems, and brought in £13,000 in income.

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Local authorities can make money from CCTV by charging other organisations, such as hospitals or private companies, to use the existing network of cameras and operation rooms.

The LGA said councils prioritise investment in CCTV where possible, and argued that a good network of cameras can have wide-reaching benefits.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, said: "Public surveillance cameras have helped bring criminals to justice, increased conviction rates after crimes are detected, and are an important tool in tracking terrorist suspects.

"CCTV protects the public by dissuading crime and anti-social behaviour, assisting police officers on the ground and supporting prosecutions."

Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter, who works with the Home Office to regulate the use of CCTV cameras, said that there is not much to suggest that CCTV is an effective deterrent for criminals.

He said: "However, the evidence that it supports investigations is overwhelming. It is used by police in 99% of homicide investigations and all counter-terrorism operations.

The societal value of CCTV cameras is difficult to measure, said Mr Porter, but they are most useful in the courtroom, where an early resolution to a major crime could save the taxpayer millions.

He added: "In 2014, local authorities were questioning the use and value of analogue CCTV. Now, with improved technology and connectivity, they have a much more enhanced capability."

Across England, a net £54.3 million has been allocated to CCTV systems by local authorities for the 2019-20 financial year, up 5% on 2017-18.

That year, councils reported a total income of more than £26 million from surveillance cameras.
Coun Daniel Williamson, portfolio holder for Community Safety, said: “Our net spend on CCTV is down this year but only because last year, we invested so heavily in our CCTV systems. In Sutton Town Centre for example, the council made an investment to fix a number of faulty cameras, improving the service significantly.

“In addition, we have also purchased covert surveillance cameras at significant expense. These are to target fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour. These are not included in the figures - the net spend on all forms of surveillance is up.

“Our CCTV systems have proven to be effective too as only recently they assisted two handbag robberies in Hucknall and Sutton. After victims were approached and bags forcibly removed from their person, CCTV footage allowed officers to track the offenders to shops, addresses or other CCTV systems, making identifying the offenders easier.

“We have recently secured £22,450 of PCC funding for two deployable cameras, together with airtime and the installation of a number of mounting poles at locations across the district. These will provide a cost-effective flexible addition to the current CCTV infrastructure.

“On top of this, all our Community Protection Officers are now equipped with body cameras, which provide vital footage to assist investigations. This investment is not included in these figures.

“We take our responsibilities protecting residents extremely seriously and are committed making Ashfield a safe place to live, work and visit.”