New lease of life for town CCTV

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Management of Spalding’s CCTV system could be taken over to ensure it continues to act as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour and crime in the town centre.

Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce members are looking at taking on responsibility for the cameras and amalgamating it with its existing ShopWatch system as the future of CCTV in South Holland remains uncertain.

At a meeting of the chamber last week, president Phil Scarlett told members he had attended meetings with a district council taskforce and although it had been feared that the existing system could be stopped, it now had have a stay of execution while discussions are held about its future funding.

Mr Scarlett said: “It is now in place until the end of April and in the meantime I have said I will look into how it is operated.

“One thing, having spoken to the police, is that the number of cameras in Spalding could be reduced to ten or 12 and then those not being used could be used as spare parts, so costs could be cut that way.

“One of the most important things, and the task group seemed to be surprised by this, is that no one has ownership of the system, so I said that the chamber could be prepared to take responsibility for the management and amalgamate it with ShopWatch so we could recruit new volunteers with the aim of having the cameras monitored from 9am to 6pm seven days a week.”

He told members that there were no figures available for how many criminals had been convicted as a result of the CCTV, but member Steve Grimston, who owns the company that maintains the cameras, said it had been instrumental in a number of very high profile investigations in Spalding.

Mr Scarlett added: “The task group will report to South Holland District Council cabinet in April and we’ll know by then if there’s a joined up county scheme but I had concerns we could be left without any CCTV coverage in a town where the population is as vocal about anti-social behaviour as it is here.”

*The issue of CCTV was also raised at a meeting of Spalding Town Forum last week, where community policing inspector Jim Tyner told members: “In my experience CCTV works.”
He said: “We rely on a small but dedicated bunch of volunteers to run this system and we are always looking for more.
“They can’t be there all the time, which means when incidents happen it can take up hours of officers’ time going through the footage. It’s frustrating.
“It is difficult to provide hard data that links the use of CCTV to convictions.
“All I can say is that I have worked in South Holland before it had CCTV and I have worked in other towns such as Stamford that have a 24/7 CCTV control room with radio link to officers on patrol.
“Twenty one years’ policing experience tells me that CCTV works.”