Saturday, 28 November 2015

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CCTV cameras poised to return to Carlisle's streets

Carlisle has taken a major step to the return of on-street CCTV cameras, as police submit their first wave of planning applications.

CCTV photo

The county force has asked for Carlisle City Council’s permission to put six new cameras in the city centre – the first time this area will have had CCTV coverage for more than four months.

Before April of last year, Carlisle had 63 cameras recording seven days a week, with images monitored from a local control room.

The city council initially switched off 47 cameras but from April the authority discontinued four more, retaining responsibility for just 12.

There are three in public parks and nine in council-owned car parks.

The new camera scheme will ultimately give the city 15 new on-street cameras – part of a £1m countywide system made up of 54 cameras.

Carlisle City Council planners have now received a formal application for six of the cameras.

The locations are:

  • On land next to West Tower Street and Scotch Street, on a 6m-high pole;
  • On the Millennium Bridge, Castle Way;
  • James Street and Victoria Viaduct – mounted on an 8m-high pole;
  • Market Cross, Green Market;
  • On the Civic Centre, Rickergate;
  • Next to the Border Rambler pub, Botchergate.

There had been fears that the county would be left without street-based CCTV cameras because of the squeeze on public spending. But the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes thrashed out an agreement with district councils across the county for what are considered key urban areas.

The commissioner’s office has agreed to pay half the cost of the new system, while the remaining one-off installation costs are being paid by the relevant councils.

In Carlisle, the authority’s contribution to the overall £277,778 cost of the city’s 15 camera system is £138,889.

Many of the new cameras should be operational by the end of the year. The images will be monitored by Cumbria Constabulary from its Penrith headquarters. There will be no running costs for Carlisle City Council, which previously monitored images.

Mr Rhodes said: “It was very clear when I came to office that a number of district councils were having to save money and that CCTV was a target for those savings.

“Also, in a number of areas in the county the existing CCTV cameras were past their sell-by and were at the point of having to be shut down.

“My calculation was that by the end of this year there would be no CCTV cameras in the county at all.

“So I felt I had to do something about that because these cameras are important in helping the police detect crime, and also important in terms of the evidence that they need to secure convictions.”

The cameras were also a powerful tool in efforts to combat antisocial behaviour, said Mr Rhodes.

He added: “I am assured that somewhere in the county the new cameras will be operating by the end of the year.

“There are a lot of people in the county who have made complimentary comments about this plan, from local authority chief executives to business people in retail who are pleased there will be some overall surveillance to help them.”

Several Carlisle city councillors argued that it was unfair to expect cash-strapped local authorities to bear sole responsibility for buying new CCTV systems.

Cumbria police has also submitted camera planning applications in Barrow.

The county’s new CCTV cameras are expected to have a shelf life of seven years, say experts.

As well as the areas identified in the Carlisle planning applications, other proposed camera sites include Raffles, Botcherby, Warwick Road, Abbey Street, Portland Place and The Crescent.


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