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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Cumbria chief constable to report on use of CCTV to tackle crime

Cumbria's top police officer is to draw up a report on the effectiveness of CCTV following moves to strip back the service.

Bernard Lawson photo
Bernard Lawson

Bernard Lawson, the county’s temporary chief constable, has been asked by Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes to produce a document about the use of the cameras.

Mr Rhodes, who oversees Cumbria’s police force, revealed the move as he pledged to hand out £600,000 that could go towards CCTV funding as part of overall measures to tackle anti-social behaviour.

He says he will give £100,000 to each of the county’s six district councils – if they match this funding themselves.

Mr Rhodes told The Cumberland News: “I’ve asked the Chief Constable to produce a fairly definitive report as to how effective he thinks CCTV is in curbing antisocial behaviour.

“Whether it is effective or not the public quite like the idea of CCTV.

“But not everybody thinks it is a good idea. Not everybody thinks it works. The Chief Constable can tell everybody.”

All but 15 of the current 63 cameras in Carlisle are set to be switched off when the city council’s contract with BT comes to an end as surveillance screens are mothballed to save money.

The cuts are poised to leave only six cameras in the city centre plus nine in council car parks.

Eden Council has switched off its cameras in Penrith, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen.

Copeland has 20 cameras in Whitehaven, Egremont, Cleator Moor, Frizington and Millom. It stopped live surveillance in 2011-12 and plans to turn them off this year.

Allerdale has CCTV in Workington, Maryport, Aspatria and Wigton. They are part-funded through private investment until April but it is uncertain what will happen after that.

Mr Rhodes said the councils do not have to spend the money on CCTV if they have alternative ideas to tackle antisocial behaviour.

On the cash offer, he added: “The reason why we are doing this is because the CCTV debate is one which is running across pretty much all the six districts.

“District councils do not have a statutory obligation to provide CCTV but they have all got them in various shapes and sizes. It seems to me that the office of the police and crime commissioner needed to think about this situation in the context of anti-social behaviour.

“Having said that, I don’t think it is a police and crime commissioner’s job to tell district councils how to spend their money.

“They have the chance to use that money to continue their CCTV, or if they want to come back to me with other programmes that deal specifically with antisocial behaviour then they can spend the money on that. They make the decision.”

Mr Rhodes said he hoped the offer might help district councils if they approached businesses to ask them to contribute.

Mr Rhodes added: “The Chief Constable’s report is to be helpful, to give the councils something to think about. There is an argument that police should pay for it. Well, this is the police and crime commissioner saying we should make a contribution.”

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