Towns could be left without any CCTV cameras

editorial image
  • CCTV scrapped in this year’s Havant Borough Council budget
  • Cabinet says it is too costly and not good value
  • Scrutiny panel fighting to save CCTV and given two-month reprieve to find £150,00 to pay for it
5
Have your say

HAVANT looks set to be left without CCTV – despite councillors voting to keep it.

Plans to get rid of all cameras – saving £150,000 a year – forms part of Havant Borough Council’s budget plans.

The evidence I have seen shows it has an impact on reducing crime and deterring crime

Councillor Tim Pike

The cut was put in by the authority’s cabinet despite its own environment and community scrutiny board voting to save it at two separate meetings, six months apart.

Their findings were based on a plea from the police that it is a vital crime-fighting tool, and a survey of 350 residents which showed 70 per cent wanted to keep CCTV.

Local authorities have always paid for CCTV in Hampshire, rather than the police.

In a statement council leader Mike Cheshire said: ‘An analysis of the number of arrests over the last year (provided by the police) indicates that each arrest costs in the region of £1,400.

‘The CCTV covers less than 10 per cent of the borough as a whole, and the whole system is becoming outdated and will require even more investment to keep it running.

‘However, the cabinet recognised the views of the scrutiny panel and has listened to their concerns.

‘As a result, at this week’s cabinet meeting, the chairman of the scrutiny board and the cabinet agreed that with the current CCTV contract up for renewal in June 2016, a project team of councillors with officer support would be set up.

‘This will investigate future CCTV delivery options, what services might have to be reduced to pay for ongoing provision in the borough, so that the cabinet can review and reconsider the future provision of this non-statutory service that is used by the police and has historically provided by the council.

‘As part of this review, the police and crime commissioner will again be invited to contribute to this service provision.’

Cllr Cheshire said he needed to balance the books for long-term sustainability, rather than just the next year.

The council’s cabinet agreed to give the members of the scrutiny board until the end of March to find ways of keeping CCTV at a much-reduced cost.

Simon Hayes, the police and crime commissioner, said it would be ‘regrettable’ if the council stopped funding it but the force will not pay for it.

Councillor Tim Pike, who sits on the panel, said: ‘I believe there is value in CCTV and so do the residents and businesses I have spoken to.

‘The evidence I have seen shows it has an impact on reducing crime and deterring crime.’

He added: ‘I sympathise with the view that police should be paying but if they’re not going to, it’s the role of the borough.

‘We even say in our strapline that our goal is to make Havant safer.

In an email to the council, Chief Inspector Patrick Holdaway, the Havant and Waterlooville district commander, said CCTV provides vital intelligence, protects officers and allows the command centre to deploy the right resources to incidents.

In 2015, the number of arrests linked to CCTV went up to 114 from 104 in 2014.

Liberal Democrat Faith Ponsonby said: ‘I’m very unhappy about it.

‘Traders in Leigh Park are appalled that we could be losing CCTV.

‘We need to look very closely at everything to find the money to pay for it.’

She suggested getting sponsorship for free events put on by the council such as Stockheath Common fireworks display and Waterlooville Classic Car Show.

Mr Hayes said: ‘My statutory responsibility is to provide a police service to residents and I cannot subsidise shortfalls in council budgets.

‘I have already committed significant funding to Havant to provide community policing and funded community safety projects through my office.’