CCTV debate as cameras catch just 125 'incidents'By Laura Nightingale
January 16, 2013
MORE than £20,000 was spent on the upkeep of nearly a dozen CCTV cameras in Yateley and Blackwater last year with some locations only seeing a handful of crimes.
Between January 1, 2012 and January 1 this year, 125 “incidents of suspicious activity” were recorded on cameras funded by Hart District Council at locations including leisure centres, pubs, railway stations and shopping areas.
Of the two cameras at Frogmore Leisure Centre, costing £1,896 each to maintain and placed at the front and rear of the complex, just one incident was recorded.
The two cameras at Blackwater station, one in the car park and one by the parade of shops, showed the highest number of recorded incidents, 29 in total.
The Royal Oak, White Lion and Dog and Partridge pubs together saw 32 incidents over the course of the year. They included criminal damage, anti-social behaviour, robbery and public order offences.
The figures have prompted the debate about whether cameras act as a deterrent or whether there are not enough crimes to justify the expense of maintaining them.
Adrian Collett, town and county councillor, said the cameras in Blackwater and Yateley had "certainly made a difference" but did not think the community should see the introduction of any more of them.
“There is always a danger people will go around the camera so that they are not in view, but there is not a massive amount of evidence of that in the area,” he said.
“Some councillors may suggest we could do with cameras in additional areas but I think, by and large, the camera locations as they are should be kept the same.”
He was not surprised that the cameras at Blackwater station saw the most incidents.
Cllr Collett said: “People get on and off the train at Blackwater all the time, it is a very busy station, plus people hang around getting fast food near there.”
The council spent £20,862 last year to maintain the 11 cameras in Yateley and Blackwater. All but one of the cameras were installed in 1997, the remaining one in 2003.
Carole Counter, a shopkeeper in Bell Lane, Blackwater, said: “I don’t think the current cameras are in the right place and I think we need more cameras, a couple more nearer the shops would be best.
“Some in Bell Lane and towards Sandhurst perhaps. There is a lot of stealing going on as people have not got the money. The problem with the current cameras is that people know where they are so they avoid them.”
The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the News and Mail and data from The Safer Hart Community Safety Partnership. In the summer of 2011, the CCTV control room went from operating 24 hours a day to mostly evenings.
But it is set to return to operating nearly 24 hours a day as Hart joins a co-location project with Rushmoor. A new shared control room will be installed in Rushmoor and is hoped to be operational by the end of May.
The cameras in Yateley and Blackwater are currently maintained by Siemens and Quadrant Security Group at a cost of just under £2,000 per camera on a contractual basis.
When the partnership comes into force, there will be a fixed monitoring cost which will allow both authorities to share running costs on a pro-rata basis.
Councillor Kennet, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The CCTV co-location project will not only allow the control room to operate for longer, but also provide up-to-date and more reliable CCTV equipment.”