When news happens send us your pictures, video and views. Text BE to 80360 or contact us by email
Traders' crime fears over CCTV cuts in Weymouth
TRADERS fear that a cut in CCTV coverage in Weymouth and Portland will lead to a rise in crime.
Members of Weymouth’s Shopwatch scheme warned that they are worried that the proposals to cut back on the current round-the-clock surveillance will encourage vandalism and crime.
Following budget cuts, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is to cut spending on CCTV by £100,000, operators would not be observing the cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as at present.
Outgoing chairman of the group Tom Phillips said: “CCTV is one of the most vital links we have to provide safety and security to us and members of the public.
“Next to the police it is the most important tool we have in helping to fight crime within the town centre. It is our eyes and ears for detecting people and monitoring them if necessary.”
The group has set up an online petition calling for the borough council to re-think its proposals.
The plan is to cut fully staffed monitoring hours back to 12 hours per day during the times of most activity. Mr Phillips said: “The CCTV system in Weymouth has been hailed as one of the best in the south west and has helped to discover, prevent and respond to thousands of criminal cases.
“As a town and county that thrive on the tourism trade, this would have a detrimental effect on our economy.
“Added to this is the increased risk of violence towards our shop and security staff, who try to provide a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for all who visit.”
He added: “At the moment we are able to back away from someone demonstrating violent behaviour.
“We are safe in the knowledge that our CCTV operators will observe and report to the police the person’s behaviour and location, resulting in quick assistance from officers.”
Dave Hiscutt, who is taking over as chairman of Shopwatch, hopes the borough council will agree to meet with the group for talks.
He said: “There is a huge amount of anger from our members, who do see the operators as vital in the detection of crime.
“I hope the council will hear what we are saying and meet with us to see if we can come to some sort of compromise.”
To sign the petition, http://cctv.epetitions.net/
A SPOKESMAN for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council said Geoffrey Gibbs, head of community safety, would be willing to meet with the group to discuss the changes.
Kate Hindson, the director of communities at the council, said: “A new CCTV structure will be introduced this autumn in order to achieve necessary savings agreed to come from this area by the borough council, due to a substantial cut in the budget.
“The business plans were presented to councillors at various committee meetings including full council in February, and it was agreed that fully staffed monitoring hours would be 12 hours per day during the times of most activity.
“Business and public consultation also took place as part of the budget setting process.”
She added: “Automatic monitoring and recording will take place at all other times and the facility will be available to Dorset Police on a 24 hour basis.”
DORSET Police Inspector for Weymouth and Portland, Les Fry, said CCTV helped in the prevention and detection of crime and that he would be working with all parties to make sure a working solution could be found.
He said: “In these challenging times I understand the need for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to cut costs to meet the budget.
“I am working with the local authority and members to try and ensure we make the best use of CCTV and find a working solution that meets the needs to everyone.”
He described CCTV use as ‘vital’.
CCTV has been used on many occasions to help catch and convict offenders.
Recent successes have included the arrest and conviction of a sex attacker and yobs involved in a mass brawl in Weymouth town centre. CCTV footage was used in court this March to help convict Ian David Hewer, of Rodwell Road, of a sex attack on a woman, 19, in Weymouth.
The 40-year-old was jailed for four and a half years. Two men were jailed in February after CCTV was shown in court of them re-enacting an attack on a man in a Weymouth street in August 2010.
Kieron James Gauci, 24, formerly of Derby Street, Weymouth, and Dean Haywood, 45, formerly of Hillcrest Road, Weymouth, were convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. During the trial jurors saw CCTV footage showing them making stamping, kicking and punching actions after pointing and laughing at a passing ambulance.
Five young men were jailed last October for their part in a mass brawl between two visiting groups on a day of violence in Weymouth.
The drink fuelled violence involved fighting and throwing road signs and bollard. Police praised CCTV operators for tracking two groups through the town as violence broke out.
Have your say on CCTV in the borough at dorsetecho.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments are closed on this article.