Thanet’s entire CCTV network could be axed as budget pressures continue to grow

PUBLISHED: 15:17 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:02 18 May 2017

CCTV cameras

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Councillors will vote on four options for the network next week,

Proposals to axe Thanet’s entire CCTV network are set to be considered by council chiefs in a crunch meeting next week.

The local authority’s current camera service has had little or no investment since its implementation in the late 1990s, which has resulted in much of the equipment becoming obsolete or not being supported any longer by manufacturers.

Officers warn that unless significant investment is given to the current system urgently, it is highly likely parts of the network will stop working without the option to repair.

In November 2014, council chiefs decided its CCTV control room in Hawley Square, Margate, be retained in the medium term at its current location, but with a view to sharing it, while inviting bids from companies for the replacement of the control system, cameras, and mobile CCTV equipment.

The current system is so out of date that Kent Police could only seize less than half of the footage it requested in 2016 due to poor quality images.

Now the council has set aside £409,000 in its budget for upgrading of the CCTV service and infrastructure and will consider four options at an overview and scrutiny panel meeting on Tuesday.

Its recommended option is to enter into a partnership with BT, for them to be responsible for all camera upgrades including equipment and network, maintenance and transmission costs.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Canterbury City Council would monitor the cameras in its control centre at Canterbury.

Other options involve upgrading the network on a medium-term basis and shutting down the control centre - shifting monitoring and management to either the council offices or to Canterbury’s service hub.

However, a report suggests equipment in these scenarios would need replacing again by 2023 - far earlier than if BT took control.

The final, and most controversial option, is to completely decommission the council’s CCTV service, which at £100,000 is by far the cheapest solution.

But the authority’s report states: “The reputational cost would be high as it could appear to the public and police that the council is not committed to crime reduction and the safety of the public.

“However many councils are considering this option as no funding is available from central government or the police to support the huge costs in running a CCTV system.”

Councillors meet to discuss the plans on Tuesday at 7pm.

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