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Council goes for new control room, renewals fund

Last year a council in Kent decided to run its public space CCTV in a new way – in line with what some other councils are doing; looking to save money, while updating to the latest tech, and still looking to provide a service to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

Swale Council proposed to go back in-house and build a new control room, within the new Sittingbourne Multi-Storey Car Park. Its monitoring hours would be during known periods of higher crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). All cameras would be upgraded to digital and sending images over wireless transmission. While all that implied capital spend, the council expected that this new ‘operating model’ would give annual revenue savings – ‘a minimum of £65,000 per year’. It went out to tender in September, evaluated by the council and the Bristol-based CCTV consultancy Global MSC. The contract has gone to DSSL Security.

Did the council have a choice? As the council cabinet heard in December, to do nothing was not an option as the agreement that the council’s part of was due to end in April 2020. In any case, without a system upgrade, as in other council areas with ageing, analogue equipment, the cameras were ever less likely to provide useful evidence.

While not part of the contract, the council notes that a ‘renewals fund’ has been built into the revenue budget for the wider CCTV service, that would allow for the replacement of all field cameras and wireless equipment every seven years. A report to the cabinet said: “This is due to the rate at which camera technology is improving and would ensure that any CCTV service operated remains modern and effective.”


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