Staff at the control room in Newport currently watch a bank of cameras 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Shockingly, those staff are being axed from 17th May in a bid to cut costs.
Although the 100 cameras will still record what is happening on our streets, there will be no one watching live and no one to take control and zoom in as incidents unfold. It is possible that some cameras will miss incidents altogether as they pan around.
At present, 5 CCTV control room operators are able to pick up on crime and other situations before alerting the relevant emergency services. They can follow situations from camera to camera and this can provide valuable evidence for prosecutions – as was the case when a drink driver crashed into the River Medina in February 2017.
It is unclear how the disbanding of the CCTV operator team will impact on the Council’s obligations under Home Office rules on things such as Subject Access Requests from members of the public. Concerns have also been raised about the impact on Shop Watch and Pub Watch schemes.
A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council has told Island Echo:
“The active CCTV monitoring arrangements will cease on 17th May 2019. 100 CCTV Cameras will continue to operate in the same locations and the CCTV footage will still be available to the Police on request for evidence purposes.
“Discussions are on-going with Police to agree a revised protocol”.
The scrapping of CCTV monitoring is part of the Isle of Wight Council’s agreed initial savings with Island Roads following a renegotiation of the highways PFI contract, as reported by Island Echo last month. The arrangement, which started on 1st April, is a £600,000-a-year cost reduction over the next 18 years of the agreement, or £11.4 million in total when index-linked.
The council, supported by Jasmine Consulting, is continuing to work with Island Roads to identify further savings that can be implemented from April 2020 – thought to be related to the Core Investment Period. When completed, the total savings over the lifetime of the contract could total around £40million.
A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary has told Island Echo:
“CCTV coverage, whether it is provided by a private individual or local authority, is useful for investigative purposes. However we cannot comment on specifics regarding the location, funding, etc, as this is a matter for the relevant provider or local authority. We are continuing to hold discussions with Isle of Wight Council about their provision”.
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