Sunday, December 17, 2006

CCTV in Ladywell?

A resident has lobbied me about getting CCTV installed in Ladywell on the corner of Algernon Rd with Ladywell Rd. I'm not strongly for or against CCTV, but I do know that it's expensive ie about £50,000 for the cost of getting a camera installed, linked into the Lewisham network etc, plus running costs.

There are almost 200 CCTV cameras in Lewisham now, mostly in the town centre and Catford. Arguably in all the areas around Ladywell, but not in Ladywell itself (maybe we were forgotten?). They were funded by 4 phases of home office funding, although maintenance and repairs are funded by the council on an ongoing basis. (The exception to this was £56,000 funding for a camera at the bottom of Clifton Rise (near the Venue Nightclub in New Cross). Police requested it and put up most of the money, with the remainder from the council budget.)

Apparently there is some research (but don't ask me to quote sources!) to show that CCTV doesn't work on its own, but can work in partnership with other measures and it tends to be reactive more than proactive. ie Most people don’t notice it is there and it's not a particularly effective deterrent eg for drunken fights, but if operators are aware of places/times/days when problems might occur they can monitor and send police as soon as a problem occurs. They can also look out for vulnerable (eg drunk) people and check they are ok. What CCTV is apparently most effective at is reducing people's fear of crime, rather than crime itself.

When I had my bike stolen from outside Ladywell Leisure Centre back in January there were 2 CCTV cameras - one on the street and one at the Leisure Centre, but one was broken/turned off and the picture on the other was too grainy to make anything out, so the CCTV in this case was absolutely useless. That said, there are of course lots of examples of cases when CCTV images have been crucial evidence to solve the crime.

According to the manager of Lewisham's CCTV system, there is no current funding for extra cameras, but they are trying to get funding for mobile CCTV cameras. At the moment I'm not convinced that if I had £50,000 to spend on crime reduction initiatives in Ladywell, or anywhere else in Lewisham for that matter, that CCTV would be top of my list. My inclination would be to spend it on youth provision, or maybe a couple more community support officers. What do you think?

1 comment:

herbertbauer said...

There is a new documentary about video surveillance (CCTV) in Britain coming out, and this time, the topic seems to be covered in a more critical way. There's a trailer online: