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Commissioner and chief visit CCTV centre

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the county’s most senior police officer visited Medway’s CCTV hub on Wednesday, January 15. Pictured left to right: Cllr Peter Hicks, Ann Barnes, Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, Cllr Alan Jarrett at the CCTV hub.

The hub was originally started in 1998 by Medway Council, but has grown since and starting operating cameras for councils across the county in April 2012. It handles cameras for Medway, Gravesham, Maidstone and Swale. It’s working over an area with a population similar to a city the size of Sheffield. Organisers add that the centre – which allows councils across Kent to operate CCTV much more cheaply – has been behind numerous arrests. Since it started in April 2012 and up to November last year the centre and its operators were responsible for helping bring about 5,095 arrests across Kent. Last year alone the hub was behind more than 2,000 arrests. The centre looks after around 750 cameras.

It can also track alleged criminals travelling into Kent, and direct police to their whereabouts. For example, the centre was recently alerted to keep a look out for three men suspected to be travelling to north Kent from London with intent to supply drugs. Operators spotted the men at Gillingham railway station and called police as they headed towards the town’s high street. One was arrested, two ran off. The operators were able to track them as they made their get-away until they were later picked up.

The hub has also helped find missing vulnerable people including a man who left Medway Maritime Hospital and was found at Chatham High Street. Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes and newly appointed Chief Constable for Kent Police Alan Pughsley were being shown around the hub by Medway Council Deputy Leader Alan Jarrett and Peter Hicks, the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Engagement.

Ann Barnes said: ‘It was fantastic to visit one of the largest CCTV Centres in the country today. Having seen the centre for myself I can absolutely reassure the people of Kent that this is true partnership working at its very best. I’m confident that the joint CCTV centre is value for money for the taxpayer and there is a phenomenal amount of work going on behind the scenes to keep everyone safe.”

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley added: “This is a great example of the police and local authorities working in partnership to keep the public safe.

“Collaboration and joined-up working across public services is absolutely critical, and this is a very good example of that in action, working to the benefit of Kent residents.”

Medway Council approved the formation of a CCTV Services Partnership in 2012 to provide value for money. It is estimated to save each local authority 20 per cent of the cost of running their own CCTV service, as well as reducing crime.

Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “I am pleased that Ann Barnes and the new Chief Constable have come to our centre to see the good work that is being done helping keep people safe across Kent. This innovative operation allows council across the county to have a CCTV service while keeping costs down. That is important in this time of austerity.

Cllr Peter Hicks added: “Our hub allows many other councils to have a CCTV operation at a cost they can afford. It also allows Medway’s residents to have the same service while keeping costs down, which is good for the taxpayer. It was very good to show the commissioner and chief constable our centre and to show how all our staff are committed to work at keeping Medway and wider Kent safe for residents.”

About the hub

Medway CCTV control centre began operating in 1998. In its early days it monitored about 20 cameras. It handles commercial CCTV, out-of-hours call handling, and monitors 40 sheltered housing schemes, lone worker and intruder alarms. The centre has recently been shortlisted – due to its innovative set up – for two award categories in the Local Government Chronicle awards for 2014.


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