Shropshire Star

Cuts to Shrewsbury CCTV monitoring will see ‘reactive’ service

Shropshire Council will consult on how to keep Shrewsbury’s CCTV systems up and running, after they said the current 'gold standard' arrangements were unsustainable.

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Around 40 cameras in the county town are currently monitored round the clock by a team at Shropshire Council, but the service will become the latest non-statutory role to be scrutinised as part of efforts to claw back cash for the authority’s under-pressure budget.

The scheme is fully-funded by Shropshire Council – but the authority says Shrewsbury is the only town in Shropshire where this arrangement exists, and it cannot continue to fund it to its current level.

The proposed changes would see the monitoring service become “reactive”, with the cameras remaining switched on and recording but live monitoring cut to a bare minimum.

The CCTV centre in Shrewsbury

Shropshire Council says the changes could result in a saving of around £350,000 for council coffers, ahead of an options report set to be discussed at the council’s cabinet next week.

“The total staffing costs for CCTV monitoring and handling Shropshire Council’s and social care out of hours calls is £602,700. Whilst this does provide three functions, those costs are not sustainable going forward,” said the report.

“The council has had a number of discussions with partners prior to this report to explore the options and opportunities for partners to fund the costs of operating and maintaining a CCTV service to achieve the best possible outcome for Shrewsbury’s businesses, residents and visitors alike. ”

Last year, the council says there were 3,144 occasions where the CCTV team “took control of a camera to actively monitor a situation or were asked to retrieve footage.”

However these figures include so-called reactive incidents, where evidence has been requested by police after an incident has taken place.

The council’s CCTV staff also provide an out-of-hours call handling service for urgent issues, which received over 4,500 calls last year and would be retained with the team cut back to six full time employees under the preferred option.

Other options on the table include recruiting volunteers to provide support for active monitoring of the system, but the authority’s options appraisal says this would come with “recruitment, retention and scheduling challenges”.

The report will be discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting next week, with the recommended option to conduct a six-week consultation on the future operation of CCTV systems in Shrewsbury.

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