Spy cameras 'a waste of space'

Friday, March 10, 2006

The following article appears in today's Yorkshire Post

CONTROVERSIAL CCTV cameras set up in parts of West Yorkshire are "a waste of space", it was claimed yesterday.

Hebden Royd town councillor Nigel Yorke, a member of the town's CCTV working party, and Hebden Royd mayor Stewart Brown, who opposed installing the cameras from the start, say the current system is of doubtful benefit.

Four cameras were installed in Hebden Bridge town centre and two in neighbouring Mytholmroyd three years ago with images being monitored at a control room based in Calderdale College.

The 112,000 contract was funded by a Home Office grant and an increased council precept but costs local taxpayers 30,000 a year to maintain, while other systems in Halifax and more recently Brighouse are paid for by Calderdale Council.

Coun Yorke said he and some other committee members had been quite shocked by what they had found.

"We've had the system in for three years and it hasn't made a blind bit of difference to crime," he said. "I'm not against CCTV but our system is a waste of space.

"I would prefer to spend the money on other crime prevention methods like more police on the streets.

"The system we have is completely inadequate and I don't think the general public realise how inadequate it is and are being lulled into a false sense of security.

"We didn't realise Calderdale College were monitoring 60 cameras with over 20 screens."

Coun Brown, who feared the introduction of the cameras would spoil Hebden Bridge's famously laid-back image, said: "I have been to see the control room where the images are being screened and it's totally unacceptable.

"There's a massive bank of screens and one person looking at them all."

But Michael Taylor, a Calder Valley councillor and leader of the Lib Dem group on Calderdale Council, said he was not in favour of scrapping the cameras which, it was revealed last year, have led directly to just five arrests in 10 months.

He said: "The first thing I would say is that the five arrests would not have been made without the cameras. I think those people who are calling for scrapping the cameras are out of touch with public opinion.

"The town council is to be congratulated on their initiative and for looking after the welfare and safety of the local community. The point of CCTV cameras is that they make people feel more secure but, yes, I would like to see more effective monitoring.

"Calderdale Council has a group looking at improving monitoring and they are going to report in a couple of months.

"The cost of maintaining the system is going to be taken over by the council and we are looking at a more extensive system of monitoring what comes out of the cameras."

A Calderdale Council spokesman said a review of CCTV cameras would result in "an objective appraisal of the current arrangements, together with an assessment of future need", including Hebden Bridge.

Amanda Griffiths, security/CCTV manager at Calderdale College, said operators were highly trained in line with Security Industry Authority regulations. Shift changes ensure high levels of concentration.

No-one from West Yorkshire Police was available for comment.

Previously, on the Hebweb

News in Brief
CCTV: who pays?
Discussion: March 2003
Discussion: March 2004

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