12:00PM, Thursday 26 January 2017
Concerns have been raised by councillors about the threat if CCTV cameras in key sites are axed.
A total of 30 camera sites are at risk of being scrapped as the council says they are used ‘infrequently’ or have become ‘unviable’, 10 of which are in or near children’s playgrounds.
But the proposals caused alarm among councillors who feared removing the cameras would lead to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour.
The review of the CCTV and control room services in the borough was discussed at the Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny panel on Monday.
Sites under threat include Oaken Grove Park – which is repeatedly targeted by vandals; Desborough Park – where CCTV pictures were used in the hunt for thugs who attacked a dad playing tennis with his sons in 2013; Cookham High Street, where Maliks restaurant was targeted by arsonists in December; and Shifford Crescent, where a shop was ram-raided in 2013.
The report states the 121 static public space cameras and 110 car park cameras, which were first installed in 1996 and cost the council £545,000 a year, are now at the end of their ‘serviceable life’.
During the meeting, councillors voiced fears about the loss.
Cllr Derek Sharp (Con, Furze Platt) said: “I’m amazed. Some of these cameras are in children’s playgrounds. I fully agree the system needs upgrading, but I can’t agree with children’s playgrounds being in the list.
“I know play areas on my ward where they were only put in on the basis that we had a camera.
“It’s not the amount they are used to bring arrest, it’s what they deter.”
Cllr Sharp was also concerned each camera cost £3,000 to decommission and asked if they could be kept up as a deterrent even if decommissioned.
But Craig Miller, head of community protection and enforcement at the borough, who presented the report said the council would have to be transparent and put up a sign to say the camera was not in use.
Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) said the CCTV cameras in Oaken Grove Park had played a key part in reducing crime.
“If you take out cameras, these stats will go up, but you can’t prove stats go up until you take out a camera. It’s a Catch-22 situation,” he said.
The panel recommended a full technological review of the system.
Cllr Carwyn Cox (Con, Hurley and Walthams), cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We’re open to discussing these locations with ward councillors. We want to get a better understanding of the issues in particular wards. If we just come in with a sledgehammer approach, I’m sure people won’t be happy and that’s not how I work.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Werner said he believes the loss of the cameras was already a ‘done deal’.
He said: “They’ve already done a review, they’ve decided they don’t need them, now they are just going through the motions.
“It costs £3,000 to decommission one but only £1,000 to run it, so there’s not much of a saving to be made. The system does need upgrading. I’ve been arguing for a digital system for years. Other local authorities upgraded years ago but this council has fallen behind.
“We used to have the Rolls Royce of CCTV, now we have a Skoda.”
CCTV sites under review:
Tenpin, St Cloud Way
Footpath, Stafferton Way to Braywick Road
Maidenhead Civic Amenity Site
Oaken Grove Park
High Street, Cookham
Boulters Lock car park
Bray Village car park
King Edward VII car park, Datchet Road
Home Park recreation ground, Datchet Road
St Leonard’s Road, junction of Trinity Place
Imperial Park, Imperial Road
Dedworth Centre, Hanover Way
Hanover Centre, Hanover Way
Datchet Railway Station car park, The Avenue, Datchet
Bridge to railway station, coach park
Eton Wick Football Club car park
Wraysbury car park
The Green, Wraysbury
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