December 9 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell and Adam Lazzari
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A decision to scrap CCTV cameras across north Norfolk could be taken on Monday.
Axing the cameras would save cash-strapped North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) about £200,000 per year.
But a report, which has just been made public, shows that the cameras – in North Walsham, Cromer, Sheringham, Fakenham and Wells – have helped in incidents including:
Two murders in Fakenham, in 2008 and 2009;
Tracking a registered sex offender who periodically enters areas in Cromer where children are present;
Keeping order at Cromer Carnival. Last year police were able to deal with three drunken incidents before the situation developed into a large-scale fight;
Identifying two offenders who were later cautioned after an assault in North Walsham Market Place;
Ruling out a suspect, following a theft in Park Court, North Walsham, who would have otherwise been wrongly arrested.
Last year’s 204 logged incidents also included a sexual assault, an arson, six missing adults and a missing child.
The close-down option is among three facing Monday’s NNDC cabinet, whose members know the council needs to cut its costs by £1.6m over the next three years.
But town councillors in communities served by the cameras want to see them saved.
“It’s essential to Cromer. It saves police time,” said Cromer mayor David Pritchard.
Investing £260,000 in wi-fi and cutting daily manning hours from 16 to 13, saving about £62,000pa, is another of the options cabinet members will consider.
Dave Robertson, who represented North Walsham Town Council at a workshop on the cameras’ future, said the town council favoured that alternative but also wanted more pressure put on the police to contribute to costs, and talks with the police to see whether savings could be made by “mothballing” less useful cameras.
The third option facing cabinet members would see all four Fakenham-based staff losing their jobs with a “24-hour reactive” service controlled instead by King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.
Town councils in Wells and Fakenham have registered their opposition to the shutdown.
At an extraordinary meeting of Fakenham Town Council on Tuesday night, retired police officer Tony Grover said: “When the cameras came to Fakenham, in the mid 1990s, crime dropped overnight. Crime will rocket if the cameras are removed and a reactive-only system will not be effective.”
CCTV cameras have helped in a string of incidents. Picture: EDP Library