All change for borough’s CCTV

Council CCTV cameras in Reigate & Banstead town centres are to be removed, but others in parks and multi-storey car parks will be upgraded.

The move by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council follows a decision by Surrey Police to cease monitoring the cameras from Reigate police station from 2023.

A report in December to the council’s executive committee said police data showed that public CCTV cameras in the borough are seldom used as a “detecting factor” in crime.

Instead, footage from mobile phones and private CCTV is more often used – technology which has proliferated since the council’s first cameras were installed in 1995.

The 121 cameras owned or powered by Reigate & Banstead are also in need of upgrades, and some may no longer meet a “pressing need” under data protection laws.

The council will decommission the cameras and infrastructure, except for those in Bancroft Road and Clarendon Road car parks, and in Priory Park, Memorial Park and Neville Park, which will all be upgraded.

The upgrades will include a switch from analogue to digital systems, the introduction of modern fibre or wi-fi connections, and a move to recording images locally with the council.

After initial costs in 2021-22, the changes will eventually save the council around £80,000 a year.

The council will tender for the work, after which it will be able to draw up a timetable.

Surrey Police have said that they are taking part in discussions with the council and others about how CCTV in the borough should look in the future.

Statement from the borough council

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council said on 15 February:

“The council reviewed the role of its CCTV system in supporting community safety in response to the Surrey Police ‘Surrey Open Space CCTV Strategy 2017-2022’, which requests local authorities take over responsibility for provision and monitoring of CCTV in the borough.

“In December, the council’s executive agreed proposals to modernise the CCTV system, which include upgrading out of date technology in key locations in parks and multi-storey car parks and decommissioning the remaining cameras and infrastructure.

“With the proliferation of privately owned CCTV and mobile phones providing alternative public realm surveillance, the council wants to make sure it’s investing resources where they are needed most.

“Preparations to tender for the work are underway and we’ll be able to confirm a timescale once the procurement process is complete.”

Statement from Surrey Police

Surrey Police said on 15 February:

“We are aware of Reigate and Banstead’s plans to review the role of CCTV in supporting community safety across the borough and upgrade cameras to a new digital system.

“This is in response to the Surrey Open Space CCTV strategy 2017-2022, in which local authorities are expected to take over provision and monitoring of CCTV; as well as upgrading to digital systems which meet the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s code of practice.

“We have provided Reigate and Banstead with data to help inform their proposals, and will continue to support the provision of CCTV by our local authority partners.

“We are taking part in discussions with the council, and other interested parties, about what the CCTV estate in the borough should look like in the future.”

How effective are the cameras?

The report to the council’s executive in December said:

“Surrey Police has provided the Council with feedback on the limitations of public realm CCTV in terms of the detection and prosecution of crime.

“Surrey Police provided data highlighting that only 1.4% (981) of all the 68,227 recorded incidents between Jan – June 2019 showed CCTV as a detecting factor. 100 of the 981 were dip checked and this showed that only 16 were attributed to public realm CCTV.

“Surrey Police has however recognised that there may be a benefit of public realm CCTV in certain night time economy town centres but are not saying this is essential.

“It is worth noting that a significant number of privately-owned town centre premises have their own CCTV which cover the public realm.

“In practice, nowadays, most images used by Police are from mobile phones and private companies’ CCTV. These cameras did not exist when
the Council originally introduced public realm CCTV in 1995.”

More about the meeting

The council’s executive meeting was on 17 December 2020: the video is here, the minutes here, and the briefing report here.

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay