Ian Moore 10 June 2014

Are the lights going out for town centre CCTV?

Are the lights going out for town centre CCTV? image

When a recent public opinion survey asked members of the public how they would feel if their local council announced it was reducing CCTV to save money (64% would be worried), most of the respondents will have taken this as a purely hypothetical question. In fact, it’s already a reality.

I’m hearing from local authorities across the country who only run their control rooms nine hours a day to save money, delay upgrades and maintenance, or are contemplating switching off their CCTV systems altogether.

A CCTV legacy created in a funding boom in the 90s has, for many councils, become a burden in times of extreme budget cuts. Here’s how they have started to tackle the issue.

Hidden costs of old equipment

There are simple things that can be done to make existing systems “lighter”. These may involve a small investment, but will release immediate savings, with funding sometimes available from innovation budgets. The most easily achieved tasks include:

- replacing dated monitors that take too much electricity to run or generate too much heat and require excessive air conditioning to cool

- changing to wireless transmission to save on expensive wired solutions and line rentals

- gradually making the move to an IP system with HD cameras that would mean fewer cameras are needed

Crossing (council) borders, sharing costs

Local authorities have become very savvy about CCTV and what they can get out of it. Rather than going for quick fixes, they increasingly look at the bigger picture to make things work and provide the best service for local communities, businesses and police.

For example, I’ve worked with a number of councils who’ve decided to join forces with adjacent authorities and share control room infrastructure.

Rather than having three control rooms running at 30%, they now have one state-of-the-art shared control room running at 100%. Usually, this means two of three sites can be sold or repurposed, releasing funds and saving money. Cheshire West and Chester is a great example for this, as is the collaboration between Broxtowe, Newark & Sherwood and Ashfield.

Town centre CCTV in a box

A slightly different approach was taken by Luton Borough Council. Keeping their systems running involved separate contracts for CCTV, staffing of the control room, access control for various buildings, as well as manned guarding. A complicated beast that required a lot of management.

Luton decided to bundle everything together to get a better deal. The whole town centre system and control room are now run centrally by us, as a single point of contact, including everything from maintenance, contractor management & auditing, call handling, and staffing. It has hugely simplified things for Luton Borough Council, while realising impressive savings.

Are the lights going out for town centre CCTV? They might - but not for want of alternative options. As we’ve seen, there are plenty of ways in which local authorities can proactively tackle their CCTV legacy and move to a sustainable solution that provides the services they need and keeps communities safe.

Ian Moore is sector lead public space at Quadrant Security Group

A commitment to civil debate image

A commitment to civil debate

Cllr Arooj Shah has been the target of recent threats and harassment. Leaders from all parties in Oldham have now come together to add their signature to a ‘politics, not personalities’ pledge, she explains.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Home Improvement Assistant

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£25.137 - £26.520
We are seeking motivated people who want to help us deliver excellent services. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Programme Team Leader

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37.722 - £40.869
The role is key to coordination the provision of Information, Advice and Guidance to customers, by... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Emergency Planning and Business Continuity Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37.722 - £40.869
Making sure the Royal Borough of Greenwich is prepared for a major incident or emergency is a priority for the Council. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Engineering Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£46,756 - £54,238 per annum
The Engineering Manager is a key member of the service management team within CATS and plays a... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Local Highway Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£22,183 - £32,234
The Local Highway Officer role is based in the Highway Service. Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue