Plan for new county-wide CCTV system discussed

A plan to end the “fragmented” CCTV coverage of a county overseen by councils to aid criminal justice, prevent terrorism and improve public safety has been unveiled.

North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said while the county’s district and county councils were spending £1.68m a year on poor quality analogue CCTV, with a revamped digital system there were potential savings of £863,000.

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A meeting of the Local Government North Yorkshire and York committee heard there were up to 600 public space cameras across the county run from five CCTV control rooms in Catterick Garrison, York, Scarborough, Harrogate and Selby which did not communicate with each other.

Mrs Mulligan called on councils to relinquish their direct control of the cameras and instead adopt a single CCTV control room managed by a trust, which would use a web-based system that could be accessed from anywhere.

North Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Phil Cain said the current system was out of date and the quality of the images limited investigations and was hampering court cases.

He said: “We have recently conducted a counter terrorism security assessment for the city of York. CCTV was raised in that as a key measure for us to look as a deterrent and also for information gathering for preventing acts of terrorism in North Yorkshire.

“It is broader than just crime, it’s also about managing safety on our roads. We have got significant events taking place over the next year with the World Cycling Championships.

“We have got significant demands on us not only from a terrorism point of view to make the public safe for those type of open events, but also around how we can keep our roads safe.”

The meeting was told independent assessors had concluded: “Failure to adopt a new model for CCTV in North Yorkshire would result in a decline in service that is incompatible with the requirements of modern policing and the need for a streamlined service into the criminal justice system.”

Mrs Mulligan warned the council leaders attending the meeting if changes were not implemented with some urgency “we could end up with some real difficulties in some areas”, due to funding.

Several council leaders appeared taken aback by the proposal, and questioned the amount of savings that would be made and costs of removing their current systems.

Hambleton District Council leader Mark Robson said: “We need to see the report. I know how much Hambleton has invested in CCTV over the years for the latest state of the art systems.”

North Yorkshire County Council chief executive Richard Flinton added: “I think this is a positive suggestion. There is a lot of merit in it. It does need to be looked at.”

It was agreed senior council officers would examine the implications for councils before discussing the proposal further.