Havant Council decided earlier this month that they will be closing down their CCTV network in the town centre. The decision was taken in order to make savings of £150,000 on the grounds that the system was expensive, out-of-date and no longer effective. It said the CCTV covered the wrong areas, had a limited impact on crime, and could violate privacy laws. This was despite recognising that the public valued the presence of cameras and that the police could respond quickly to incidents.
The council’s cabinet included the cuts in this year’s budget, but protests from its scrutiny board led to a last-ditch review to see if savings could be made elsewhere to pay for the service. This followed on from two previous decisions that the panel had made during the past year to keep the town’s 46 cameras. On this occasion they had no choice and ‘reluctantly’ recommended decommissioning them.
This has led to a number of protests from local businesses and residents in the town. Several local councillors have also expressed concerns, including Councillor Tim Pike who had mounted a strong campaign to keep the cameras. He was quoted in the local press as saying that his own research had shown businesses and the public felt safer with CCTV and it reduced crime.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire Simon Hayes has criticised the decision. He said he is ‘disappointed’ that the decision by the Council to freeze its Council Tax this year has led to their decision not to fund CCTV. He added: ‘It’s up to them to decide what their priorities are….and how they want to protect their residents. CCTV exists to gather evidence and deter offenders. From that perspective it protects the public.’
Mr Hayes was previously asked by Havant Council Leader, Mike Cheshire, to consider making a financial contribution to CCTV ‘service provision’ but refused, saying £2.5m is already spent on policing in Havant.
Havant is one of a number of local authorities up and down the country who have reviewed their provision of CCTV. One in five across the UK has been forced to cut the number of CCTV cameras. Several councils have gone one step further and made the decision to cut the service completely.