Chichester district CCTV could be axed

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The future of closed circuit TV cameras in Chichester District Council car parks and in town centres is coming under cost-cutting scrutiny.

Options range from maintaining the current service to no coverage at all.

All 74 cameras and a CCTV control room are owned by the authority, and the amount needed to run the system during 2011-12 is £167,200.

There are cameras in Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey, the Witterings and Bosham.

A new option for consideration was agreed at a meeting of the district overview and scrutiny committee, which decided to put it to the council cabinet as a recommendation.

This would involve exploring the potential for bringing in a commercial company to run the service.

The committee is asking for the possible use of mobile phone technology in the system to be looked at, and has also called for a review of outside contributions towards the cameras.

The control room monitors 1,500 incidents a year in the city centre alone, in response to radio messages from the police, shops and entertainment premises, in addition to incidents monitored by the Sussex police control room.

A report said the car park cameras provided ‘continuity of evidence’, identified vehicles used during shoplifting incidents and helped deal with anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Pam Dignum said withdrawing all the cameras would not be acceptable to the public or to councillors.

She favoured a possible option which would save at least £17,500 by the removal of 16 cameras from the system.

Police confirmed this could be done without adversely affecting the system’s effectiveness.

Cllr Julie Tassell called for quotes to be obtained from companies which operated CCTV systems, and Cllr Andrew Shaxson said it could be possible to provide the service cheaper.