There was an interesting article in the Guardian last week talking about ‘Is community safety at risk as cash-strapped councils cut CCTV?’.

This year The CCTV User Group and and Graeme Gerrard, deputy chief constable of Cheshire constabulary jointly carried out some research in CCTV for Public Space Surveillance in the UK. They estimated that there are 30,000 publicly owned CCTV cameras.

Certainly this summer with the riots across the UK, CCTV has been instrumental in identifying the trouble makers. Rose Fitzpatrick, deputy assistant commissioner of central operations at the Metropolitan police, said they needed, “to work more effectively with local authorities to use imagery such as CCTV systems” (source The Guardian).

Given that these public space CCTV cameras are owned and run by councils, it is no surprise that in times of austerity that, CCTV budgets have been cut. Councils have had to look at alternative routes to fund CCTV programmes across the UK

There are a number of headlines in local newspapers recently highlighting this:

CCTV under threat
Police Authority Helps Fund Shrewsbury’s CCTV Radio System
£750k bid to make Middlesbrough town centre safer
Calls for change to CCTV funding

“Peter Fry, director of the CCTV User Group, whose membership includes CCTV managers and police liaison officers, is concerned that crime may go undetected if cuts continue to be made to monitoring services. Especially as providing CCTV is not a statutory duty. While he believes that “less than a handful” of local authority cameras have actually been switched off, “a great many authorities seeking cuts have adopted reduced monitoring hours, ie the cameras are not monitored during non-peak times.”

Given this councils need to think about how they can use their existing technology more effectively rather than overhauling or upgrading their system. Surely that’s a more pragmatic solution rather than vetting budget?