Police commissioner '˜disappointed' over Havant council's decision to scrap CCTV

THE police and crime commissioner for Hampshire has criticise a council's decision to scrap CCTV.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 6:06 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 8:16 am
CCTV cameras will be scrapped in Havant town centre
CCTV cameras will be scrapped in Havant town centre

After several attempts to keep the cameras rolling, Havant Borough Council’s scrutiny panel has ‘reluctantly’ agreed with its cabinet to turn off all 46 cameras.

The council’s cabinet worked the cut into this year’s budget to save £150,000, but protests from the scrutiny board led to a last-ditch review to see if members could find savings from elsewhere to pay for it.

They have now concluded they cannot.

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PCC Simon Hayes said: ‘CCTV is a useful tool for the police.

‘It is funded across Hampshire by local authorities and it is their decision how they want to protect their residents, it is about protection. CCTV exists to gather evidence and deter offenders. From that perspective it protects the public.’

Mr Hayes said he was ‘disappointed’ the council will not fund CCTV following its decision to freeze council tax again this year. He added: ‘The consequence of that is they need to cut services. It’s up to them to decide what their priorities are.’

Mr Hayes was previously asked to contribute to the CCTV but refused, saying £2.5m is already spent on policing in Havant.

The scrutiny board has, in the past year, twice voted to keep the cameras. They saw the review as a last-ditch attempt to save it.

But a member of the scrutiny panel said members felt their hands were tied once the cut had been worked into the budget – and redundancy notices had already been given to control room staff.

Councillor Tim Pike had mounted a strong campaign to keep the cameras.

Speaking to The News previously, he said his own research had shown businesses and the public felt safer with CCTV and it reduced crime.

But Ian Payne, chairman of Leigh Park Traders Association, who gave evidence to the review, said he believes the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Councillor Tony Briggs, who is responsible for CCTV at the council and not on the scrutiny board, said he felt the panel had made the right decision – at a time when the council needs to plug a £1.5m deficit by 2020.

He said: ‘They have carried out a thorough investigation and looked at the quality of the cameras, some of which are just not up to standard and are not compliant.

‘When you look at it overall it is just not value-for-money and does not provide the type of surveillance one would wish for’.

Cllr Briggs said he was unaware of redundancies because the service is provided by an outside contractor.

The recommendations for getting rid of CCTV will go before full council on April 13.