All-seeing eyes help crackdown on crime
STREET CCTV cameras operated by West Lancashire Borough Council helped police arrest 236 suspects last year.
The council’s annual CCTV report revealed that staff dealt with 5,633 incidents during 2017/18 – more than 100 each week.
The council operates 106 “community cameras” around the borough, which are monitored by staff from a contracted firm 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In the annual report, the council says it has assisted in 405 missing person searches and observed more than 700 cash in transit deliveries. CCTV operators also identified 1,634 incidents through general monitoring.
The cameras are in place for a variety of reasons but primarily for the prevention of crime and disorder.
Several in Skelmersdale were installed directly in response to anti-social behaviour, while some were placed in areas including Burscough to fight theft.
Others are placed in key traffic routes to assist in searches for people involved in crime.
The cameras are mostly grouped in Ormskirk town centre, Burscough Industrial Estate, Burscough Village and Skelmersdale. They are also used inside the council’s offices and in rural areas including Aughton, Parbold, Hesketh Bank, Tarleton, Banks, Rufford, Scarisbrick, Halsall, Mere Brow and Downholland.
Portfolio holder for health and community safety, Cllr Kevin Wright said: “The report outlines the tremendous work that goes on with our CCTV operators in partnership with the police.
“Their experience and close working relationship with the police helps to ensure we achieve great results from our system.
“These cameras have helped combat crime and to reduce the fear of crime within our communities.”
In 2016, the council’s CCTV system was awarded a fiveyear certificate of compliance by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, showing that the council’s CCTV system is managed appropriately and that information from the cameras is used in an appropriate manner.
One of the issues the council must consider is the privacy of private residents and the software used allows for parts of the CCTV image to be completely blanked out.
The councils says there are several existing cameras where privacy settings are installed to completely blank out windows or whole houses so that residents’ privacy is ensured.