CCTV team and will cease investigating videos
BUDGET cuts at a council mean surveillance footage of hundreds of crimes will no longer be investigated by a senior council officer on behalf of the police.
Darlington Borough Council has removed a senior officer from its CCTV team and will cease investigating videos on behalf of the police.
However, senior councillors have reassured the public that normal monitoring of the cameras will continue.
The cameras the team watches cover Darlington town centre, other parts of the borough and Bishop Auckland and Crook town centres. They also monitor Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and Mowden shops.
An investigation by The Northern Echo showed that Durham Police has requested footage from the council 1,205 times since the start of 2008.
They included 423 incidents of violence against people, 16 sexual offences, 24 robberies and 44 burglaries.
There were also 96 incidents of criminal damage, including arson, and 144 thefts or crimes of handling stolen goods. It is not known how many times the footage led to a successful prosecution or suspects being charged.
The CCTV cameras were installed in 1991 primarily to reassure people and deter criminals. The secondary purpose was to provide evidence.
There are 12 staff in the CCTV team, with up to three working at any one time.
Councillor Bill Dixon, who is a Durham Police Authority member, said: “We have been happy to provide it when we can for the police, but given the costs of running the CCTV system, we have to go back to core programmes.
“I would hope the police can find a way to continue it and if there is a serious incident, they will still review the tapes.
“This will not harm reassurance because the cameras will still be monitored and there is no reduction of the frontline service.”
Councillor Doris Jones, the chairwoman of Darlington’s neighbourhood services scrutiny committee, said the loss of the post was as a result of a spending review and would save the council £60,000 a year. She said: “The CCTV will still be there and it is a valuable tool in the fight against crime and the fight against fear of crime.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The police are aware of the situation caused by the reduction in staff, and how they review CCTV tapes in the future is a matter for them.”
A police spokesman said: “We are still in negotiations with the council as to how best to use the CCTV, but no decision has been taken yet.”
As well as CCTV cameras, the council staff also investigate intruder, fire and other alarms.