Bridgnorth's CCTV operators made redundant
The eyes of Bridgnorth will no longer be watching as the staff who have monitored the town's CCTV for more than a decade have been made redundant.
West Mercia Police pulled their funding from the service in 2015 and the town council has now decided it can no longer foot the bill for employee wages.
Following a consultation with the police which ended on January 12, the council on Friday informed the operators they will no longer be needed to watch the high quality surveillance cameras that cover the town.
Two of the three staff will leave on April 10 before the final employee leaves on May 1.
Police are instead set to have 24/7 access to the cameras to use reactively following reports of crime.
But Pam Becke, one of the operators who has watched over the town for more than a decade, said security was 'going backwards'.
The 73-year-old, who was awarded an MBE for 40 years' service to the police, said: "We're very sad about it. I feel this is such a let down. We don't think Bridgnorth is as safe anymore. It seems to be going backwards.
"Police say early intervention is vital, but now they're saying we don't need CCTV monitored until after the crime has been done.
"The cameras are static. They're on 24/7 but you can only view from one camera to another and the police don't know which camera faces where in the town – by the time it's viewed it'll be too late."
The footage had been monitored for about 25 hours a week and the council said it instead intends to use the funds to invest in 'new and emerging technology' such as live streaming.
This comes as West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner John Campion announced he was looking to reopen Bridgnorth Police Station amid officer recruitment.
Lee Jakeman, town clerk, said: "The CCTV operation is paid for wholly by the residents of Bridgnorth and receives no financial support from businesses.
"Having carefully considered all options the town council has decided to cease its own live monitoring.
"The council will look at using some of the consequent cost saving to work with the police to take advantage of new and emerging technology that may lead to police officers having more immediate access to CCTV footage including live streaming."
The provision of cameras in the town has been a contentious issue for years, with funding first being pulled in 2015 and the council reviewing whether it should still pay for staff wages in 2017.
The service has continued to be streamlined over the years, with operators' frustration mounting having had their direct radio to police taken away.
There have been several incidents where operators have been watching a crime unfold and tracking the criminals on the cameras as they move, but have been unable to relay messages to help police catch them in the act.