Big Brother is NOT watching you – Community CCTV camera’s are never monitored!
In public papers presented to Amber Valley’s “Improvement and Scrutiny Committee,” but also available for everyone to see, it has been revealed that 4 of 12 CCTV cameras are to become “dummy cameras.” Each camera costs approx. £1,000 to run each year, so the local taxpayer will save £4,000. Whilst that’s great for the taxpayer, what would’ve been ever better is if we all thought the cameras were still operating. Then at least the redundant cameras could still serve some useful preventative purpose. However it get’s worse, as it’s revealed the eight remaining operative camera’s are not even monitored. These are the camera’s the public are still coughing-up money for.
I remember being on the council when papers were withheld from me, a sitting councillor, in the interest of crime prevention. It was apparently about future strategic actions to be taken in the event of another BNP festival locally (I don’t really know, I never saw the papers). I begrudgingly declared an interest and left the meeting whilst the item was discussed in secret. That was in relation to a family event over one weekend, CCTV camera’s however are a 365 day a year crime prevention measure. So for me after being on the wrong end of robust confidentially rules, seeing such a blasé approach to community safety smacks with disbelief.
The dead cameras are as follows:-
- Victoria Avenue, junction of King William Street, Ironville
- The Greenway, off Park Road, Ripley
- A6 Duffield, adjacent to Smartmove Estate Agents
- Station Road, Langley Mill (Acorn Retail Park)
I know from first hand experience that Amber Valley BC keep more things secret than necessary. Long secret papers are issued to councillors where really only a small part needs to be confidential. Having seen poor excuses to keep things out of public view I was genuinely surprised to see something like this with genuine reason to be secret. Even more galling was not a single councillor questioned whether the report should be confidential. However that wasn’t surprising when it turned out latter in the meeting that the committee Chairman, Cllr Martin Tomlinson had not bothered to read his agenda, when he asked a question that was already answered in the papers.
Perhaps worse than revealing the location of the four dummy cameras, the council also reveals that the remaining operating cameras are never monitored because of expensive additional costs incurred with the CCTV provider. Downloading CCTV video footage comes at a cost of about £50, each time. The cameras and the video data are managed by an external company who charge the fee.
The additional expense is partly because Amber Valley councils own CCTV technology (cameras covering Ripley Market etc.. are run internally) is incompatible with that of the external CCTV company, meaning community partnership cameras can’t be synchronised with the councils wider network of cameras.
Sally Price from the Amber Valley Community Safety Partnership said
“The problem is it’s time consuming to sit watching CCTV coverage. So we have to have something to go on. There’s no point saying between, 12 o’clock lunchtime and 11 o’clock at night, in terms of CCTV coverage that’s a heck of a long time. So we just need to kind of manage expectations around that really.”
Cllr Kevin Buttery (CON) made the point that it could cost the taxpayer a hell of a lot of money to monitor anti-social behaviour. He had this to say,
“If we’re suddenly getting issues of anti-social behaviour where it would be helpful to have a look at footage for identification reasons or to look at the extent, the issue I have for [the Community Safety Partnership] is if a beat officer says have a look there might be something there. You’re going to need one hell of a budget to keep paying fifty pounds out.”
Sally Price told the Improvement and Scrutiny Committee that it was hoped that when Amber Valley BC upgraded to a faster broadband line that downloads can be made directly, eliminating the need to keep paying a £50 fee. But is it worth wasting a single penny of local taxpayers money on a CCTV system incompatible with council technology and which is difficult to monitor to boot.
Personally I think this system of CCTV is useless and not fit for purpose. Hopefully these camera’s will get the chop in the next round of budget savings, and the dummies at the council won’t tell us about the dummies. One can only hope.