Close circuit television (CCTV) - Overview of service
- Meeting of Partnership and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Monday 22 July 2013 7.00 pm (Item 7.)
This report provides the Partnership and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee with an update on the CCTV service.
Alvin Wakeman (CCTV Control Room Manager) informed the committee that the first four CCTV cameras were introduced in Brent during the European Football Championships in 1996. He added that they now had 175 cameras and they used these to help the police both operationally and strategically. For example the police used the cameras extensively to tackle gangs, particularly in South Kilburn and Alvin Wakeman stated that he attended the cross board meetings to see the results of CCTV work. He stated that the service would continue to face increasing financial demands, such as the up keep of cameras whilst facing a diminishing budget. Due to this they may need to reconsider sharing resources with the West London Alliance (WLA) which had first been investigated in 2009. He also informed members that the Government had issued new guidance in relation to CCTV and that would require a significant amount of work.
Michael Read (Assistant Director of Environment and Protection) advised members that they were currently reviewing the CCTV strategy and what the cameras were actually used for. Currently they were used for detecting and deterring crime as well as traffic management and enforcement. The council had 175 cameras that were used for detecting and deterring crime. Michael Read clarified that 82 of those cameras were authorised to manage and enforce traffic laws and 30 of the cameras could be used by Wembley stadium on event days as Wembley Stadium had provided the funding for those. In addition Brent had access to 23 cameras owned and maintained by TFL. However access was limited to 3 cameras at any one time.
Members thanked Alvin Wakeman and Michael Read for their update and asked both for further clarification regarding what the future was for CCTV given the financial constraints that they faced. Members also enquired whether there were any mobile cameras in operation and if so where they were. They also wanted to know where the camera was that was purchased with Ward Working finances. A member also asked if Brent had any traffic enforcement cars and whether these cars were entitled to park on double yellow line. An enquiry was then made regarding the removal and erection of cameras and what the criterion was for both and whether the public were involved in these decisions.
In reply to the issues raised by the committee, Alvin Wakeman advised that due to financial constraints it was unlikely that they would install any new cameras in the near future. Most of the cameras that were currently in operation in Brent were funded by other partners, for example 8 new cameras had been installed in Harlesden by the parking enforcers. The Council would be able to use those new cameras at night for community safety. In regards to the requirement to place cameras it was explained that a new code practice, that was to be issued soon, would have to be adhered to when placing cameras to ensure they were only used for a specific purpose in pursuit of a legitimate aim. There were no plans to remove any of the cameras at the moment, but Michael Read did inform members that they were costly to maintain and the automatic replacement of existing cameras could not be assumed. If cameras were removed in the future then this would have to be a decision approved by the Executive and therefore it would need to be consulted on widely as they would have to balance the right to privacy with the community’s needs.
Members were also informed that the Council did not have any vehicles with cameras on them. The police had a CCTV van that the council did not have access to and the parking contractors had vehicles that they used for parking and traffic enforcement. Alvin Wakeman clarified that these vehicles were legally allowed to park on double yellow lines if there was no other place for them to park to detect an offence. He reiterated that they were supposed to do this little as possible as it was recognised that this caused annoyance with drivers. He then explained that although the council did not have moveable cameras they did have seven temporary, deployable cameras that could be moved around the borough. There were huge demands as to where to put these cameras so there was a schedule of where these cameras would be placed and Alvin agreed to supply the committee with this schedule. He also agreed to let the members know who much it cost to run the CCTV services. Michael Read informed members that they had lowest level of cameras possible to be able to run a 24 hour service and that they were looking to ensure that the CCTV service would be self-sustaining in the future. They were also considering a possible joint contract with WLA but this was still very much in its infancy and would not happen in the foreseeable future. Alvin Wakeman concluded by stating that he believed that they currently offered a very good service given the small size of team.