Chichester CCTV cameras cut back in bid to save money

CRIME-BUSTING surveillance cameras are to be axed in Chichester in a bid to save the local authority at least £17,500 a year.

But Chichester District Council has vowed the quality of its CCTV service will not be affected after voting to reduce running costs by removing 16 ‘unnecessary’ cameras.

Its cabinet rejected the idea of scrapping the system entirely as a cost-cutting measure, despite promises the move would save £167,200 a year.

The decision to cut 16 cameras out of a total of 74 – which also affects cameras in Selsey, the Witterings, Bosham, Midhurst and Petworth – was slammed by business leaders in the city.

Louise Fenwick, of Chichester Chamber of Commerce, said the council should have spent more time considering its options.

“While it is often considered that CCTV is intrusive and, as a society, we are over-surveilled, proper use of CCTV in areas like city centres and public car parks can prove an excellent deterrent or provide essential evidence for prosecutions,” she said.

“The CCTV coverage in Chichester city centre is an integral and very effective tool used by Chichester District Business Against Crime among others. Rather than merely cutting back to cut costs, the chamber would strongly encourage CDC to explore various and novel ways of maintaining this service, including in partnership with private companies – ideally locally-based companies.”

At a meeting earlier this week, the cabinet opted to maintain the majority of the CCTV service after hearing a report that CCTV cameras in the car parks provided ‘continuity of evidence’ as suspects moved between streets and car parks, to identify vehicles used during incidents, and to assist with anti-social behaviour. They also provided a deterrent, and gave a feeling of reassurance to the public.

The council’s control room monitors 1,500 incidents a year in the city centre alone from its cameras in car parks and other locations. The police monitored 1,764 incidents using CCTV over the past 12 months.

Cabinet members were told scrapping CCTV altogether would save £167,200 a year, excluding any income gained from renting out the buildings, but it would have one-off costs estimated at £255,000 to terminate existing contracts and remove CCTV equipment.

Members agreed council officers should explore the idea of using an external provider to run the service, and the use of mobile technology.