CCTV cameras would be left unmanned five days a week under new cost-cutting plans from Norwich City Council

Generic CCTV camera. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Generic CCTV camera. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

CCTV cameras across Norwich would be left unmanned except at 'peak times' under new cost-cutting proposals from the city council.

Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety.

Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety. - Credit: Archant

While Norfolk Police would continue to have remote access to the network of cameras in the city, council staff would only be monitoring the system on Friday and Saturday evenings, or for high profile events.

Under the current system cameras are monitored by staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Employees are being consulted on the plans to create a 'more efficient and smaller service' which would come into force next April. Norwich City Council would not confirm how many jobs are at risk or how much money could be saved as the consultation is ongoing.

'Like all councils, Norwich is faced with financial challenges and as a result we must continually review our services and the way we operate,' said a spokesman.

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'One of the services currently under review is the non-statutory CCTV provision, which many councils up and down the country have recently cut all together. 'Employees of the CCTV service are currently being consulted on proposals, which, if implemented, will set in place a new more efficient and smaller service from April 2017.

'The proposals include continuing to run active cameras 24/7, 365 days of the year and with remote access by our police partners, but with a reduction in the hours cameras are live monitored by council employees.'

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They added staff would monitor cameras at public events including Remembrance Sunday, the Lord Mayor's Celebration and the Christmas Lights Switch-On.

Councillor Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, added he was 'fairly confident' the changes would not result in a spike in crime.

'CCTV cameras are particularly effective after the event of crime rather than actually stopping the crime as it occurs,' he said. 'This has always primarily been a policing matter, and the cameras will still be there for police to use in prosecutions and investigations.

'We have to realise the city council have been squeezed by this government and we have to make painful decisions. If we were in a better financial position we would not go as far as this. I am fairly confident it will not seriously impact crime rates.'

The council is planning to invest £270,000 to renew the cameras and control room to provide a modern flexible system that will include the provision of movable cameras which can be moved to target problem locations anywhere in the city.

Stefan Gurney, director of Norwich Business Improvement District, said 'full coverage' would be the best way to deter crime in the city, and suggested third party providers could be a solution.

'We try to work with the city council to get the best coverage for the city to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour,' he said. 'The common sense approach is to provide service for the peak impact times, as that is where most cases of anti-social behaviour occurs. As long as the CCTV system is operational it can be utilised to monitor people. 'Obviously we would prefer to have full coverage, but we are aware of the impact on the city council's costs and the future savings they need to make. We do not want to see a drop in this provision, because it supports crime reduction in the city.'

A spokesperson for Norfolk Police said the force would 'continue to work with the city council to ensure this resource is used for maximum effectiveness.'

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