'Let's scrap CCTV and pay for a PC instead' says Somerset town
By This is Somerset | Wednesday, November 09, 2011, 10:45
Councillors in Clevedon are calling for the cash spent on running the town’s CCTV system to be withdrawn and used to employ a dedicated town centre policeman instead.
Clevedon councillors are concerned that CCTV in the town centre has become 'useless'
Councillor Andrew Withers put forward a motion to withdraw CCTV funding
Community leaders have branded the nine cameras in the town centre as useless, claiming they have failed to capture the culprits behind a spate of vandalism.
Residents in Clevedon pay £19,000 a year to North Somerset Council as a ‘special expense’ on their council tax towards the cost of the CCTV system.
Councillors say they now want that funding re-allocated and spent on employing a policeman to patrol the town centre at peak times – particularly at weekends and evenings.
The move follows mounting concern about the ineffectiveness of the town’s CCTV cameras, pictured,
A report to the council revealed there had been 2,150 incidents of drunkenness, vandalism and anti social behaviour in the town centre over the past year – and only five arrests.
It is not known whether CCTV footage was used as part of any of the arrests.
At the weekends, hooligans have frequently caused damage in Queens Square in the town centre, turning over and emptying flower-filled tubs and smashing windows.
Earlier this year, the windows of Clevedon Baptist Church were smashed – right under the view of the camera, yet no culprit was identified.
Over the past couple of years graffiti has been daubed on shops, flowerbeds trampled and bins thrown in the river by the Conservative Club.
Hooligans have also tried to start fires in shop doorways as well as setting light to rubbish bins. Councillors agreed to give local police a last chance to outline their plans for cracking down on the vandalism before pressing North Somerset to reallocate the funding.
Clevedon councillor Andrew Withers, who put forward the motion to withdraw the camera funding, said: “I received 86 sheets of incidents of drunkenness, vandalism and anti-social behaviour and far as I can see, only five arrests have been made.
“Local residents are paying £19,000 as a special expense for these cameras, which seems to be a total waste of money.
“On the basis that these cameras do not contribute to any arrests or even act as a deterrent, the money should be spent on a more worthwhile service such as employing our own policeman to patrol the town centre at the weekends when most of the trouble occurs.
“We are writing to the police asking them to come back to us and discuss their plans on how they intend to tackle these problems.
“Councillors have agreed that if we are not happy with the response, then we will ask for the funding for the cameras to be withdrawn and look at other more effective ways of policing the town centre.”
There are 72 cameras across North Somerset – nine in Clevedon – which are monitored by a control room at North Somerset Council HQ.
Police say some of the cameras have been obscured by trees and hedges and that they are working with the council and precinct owners to get the foliage cut back.
And they added that all cameras were operational and that patrols in the town centre were being increased to target anti-social behaviour.
Police are due to meet with councillors to discuss the issue later this month.