Number of CCTV cameras almost halved in Norwich
- Credit: Archant
The number of council CCTV cameras around Norwich has almost been halved in a shake-up of the system.
Norwich City Council has just finished replacing its CCTV system, which it has previously said was out of date and had become too costly to keep running.
The new system, set up under a £410,000 contract with Truetech Integrated, has reduced the number of cameras from 48 to 25.
New cameras have been introduced in Chapelfield Gardens, Prince of Wales Road and Agricultural Hall Plain, and some existing ones in busy areas - including Tombland and Haymarket - remain.
But others have been removed, including some on King Street, Ber Street and Swanton Road in Mile Cross.
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The city council said it had used factors in the Surveillance Camera Commissioner Code of Practice, which says a balance must be struck between public protection and individual privacy, and that decisions had been made with Norfolk police.
In relation to King Street, they said there was "no longer evidence" that it was needed, saying there were other cameras around the area.
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The road is a busy thoroughfare on football match days and on Friday and Saturday nights for revellers.
But the King Street Residents Association agreed there were other CCTV cameras used in the area, and said they were pleased that police had begun policing the street late on weekends.
More widely, a police spokesperson said they had worked closely with stakeholders to ensure cameras are installed where they will be most effective.
"The CCTV system we operate is wholly financed by the city council and while it is not a statutory service it is one we recognise as playing a part in helping keep Norwich a safe city," they said.
"We encourage residents to report certain incidents of anti-social behaviour to the council such as noise issues and fly-tipping so we can evaluate and respond to any future changes needed.
"However, if anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is in progress, please report it directly to the police."
The city council, which has funded the cameras, said there was a total 110 cameras connected to the CCTV system, including some in council-owned residential communal areas.
According to Office for National Statistics crime data for Norwich, the number of reported offences increased from 17,207 in the 12 months
to December 2017 to 17,692 in the 12 months to December 2018.
While reports of many offences - including bicycle theft, criminal damage and shoplifting - fell, for others it increased, including violence with injury, up from 1,889 to 2,739, robbery, up from 215 to 248, and sexual offences, from 606 to 645.
According to police data - for all crimes in Norwich from January to April 2019 - the locations where offences were reported most often were labelled as being near shopping areas, supermarkets or parking areas.
But the named roads with the highest reports of crimes in that period were Prince of Wales Road, William Booth Street, All Saints Green, Drayton Road, Cadge Close, Russell Street, Upper King Street and Dereham Road.
What about further afield?
Concerns have previously been raised by communities outside the city centre that greater surveillance is needed.
The council has said that more redeployable cameras would be introduced - building on three portable ones already in use - to monitor areas where significant problems were identified.
In March, Simon Crawford (inset), of the Russell Streets Community Area Residents Association, called for city councillors to install CCTV further afield than the city centre.
At a full council meeting, he said: "It is a fact that the drug and crime associated anti-social behaviour has been pushed out into the suburbs and into residential areas such as ours."
He later added: "Surely the good and tax-paying people of Norwich have the right to feel protected from the less than decent members of the society who reside among us on a daily basis."