Fears over effect of camera switch-off

CCTV room at Blackpool Central Police HQ
CCTV room at Blackpool Central Police HQ
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FEARS are growing council plans to slash manned CCTV could have repercussions across the Fylde coast.

St Annes and Kirkham rely on Blackpool Council staff to monitor the towns’ CCTV cameras – and concerns have been raised forthcoming cuts could have a knock-on effect.

As revealed by The Gazette last week, from August, although Blackpool’s cameras will be continually recording they will go unmanned three days a week.

Coun Elaine Silverwood, from Kirkham Business Group, fears the cuts could lead to cameras in St Annes and Kirkham being neglected.

She said: “Kirkham is only monitored three days a week at the moment, but if they are not covering Blackpool three days a week they are going to be really focusing on it when they are. There will be a pecking order and I imagine Kirkham will be low down.

“There’s a lot of questions to be asked because we want to know exactly what we’re getting for our money.”

Fylde Council pays Blackpool for the service and councillors are due to hear next week about the positive impact CCTV has had on crime across the two towns since it was introduced in September 2009.

In Kirkham, crime has dropped 38 per cent since the cameras were switched on, though Coun Silverwood, who also runs Silverdells, on Poulton Street, stressed businesses CCTV cameras were still being used to capture incidents.

Figures show crime in St Annes has fallen around 37 per cent since 2008.

And John Moxham, chair of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said he was confident cuts wouldn’t impact on crime levels.

He said: “There’s a very strong case for CCTV when you look at the figures before and after. We’re buying that service in and you monitor what you’re getting. I’ve every faith that’s what will happen but we need to keep our eye on it.”

As well as the fixed CCTV cameras 20 mobile cameras also monitor the borough of Fylde, with a further two set to be purchased this summer.

Blackpool Council said it would continue to monitor the South Fylde cameras, while Fylde Council bosses have promised they will monitor the impact cuts at the Bonny Street control room have on the towns.

A council spokesman said: “We will look very carefully at Blackpool’s proposals and the possible implications for the running of CCTV cameras in Kirkham and St Annes. Fylde Council remain committed to providing a comprehensive CCTV system to reduce crime.”

Blackpool’s cameras will record 24 hours a day but will only be monitored Thursday-Sunday with operator numbers slashed from 11 to three.

The changes, part of £908,000 worth of cutbacks to the parking and CCTV budget, were agreed by Blackpool’s previous Conservative administration.