A review of Birmingham’s fixed-camera CCTV network is underway, and a report containing full details will be presented to the council’s Cabinet on March 17.
It is proposed that 53 cameras will be decommissioned from the 276-camera network, as part of the response to central government funding cuts. The council is also required to adhere to guidance from the Surveilance Commissioner’s office, which states that cameras should only be used in areas where there is a pressing need.
The current 276 camera network across 27 schemes costs £966,000 annually. The proposed changes would reduce the figure by 19 per cent to £780,500 from 2014/15 onwards.
This would be making a contribution to the council’s wider need for savings as a result of central government funding cuts, as widely publicised in the past (the council currently forecasts it will lose £822m between 2010 and 2018).
The council has concluded 53 could be decommissioned with limited impact upon the integrity of the overall scheme. The details of those cameras will be made public in the upcoming Cabinet report, due for publication early next month.
In order to prioritise the need for cameras within the network, the following layers of analysis were undertaken:
- Crime and disorder figures in the areas where cameras are
- The physical location of cameras (are they in “important” locations e.g near Football grounds, areas with persistent issues such as shopping areas or car parks)
- A detailed examination of how the cameras are managed by the control room to see if any coverage overlapped or if they were monitoring restricted views etc
Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart city, said: “CCTV cameras are a vital tool, helping councils and the police to fight crime.
“The Government has raised the bar over when and where CCTV can be used, so we have got to take that into account when reviewing our network of cameras.
“Also, taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for cameras that don’t help in the fight against crime. To do so is just throwing good money away during a time of severe funding cuts for local government.
“What this review does is makes sure every single pound we spend is used in the most effective way, to catch criminals and bring down crime, making the city safer for all our residents.”