Saturday, 18 January 2020

Mobile CCTV could be used at antisocial behaviour hot spots

Mobile CCTV could be used at antisocial behaviour hot spots

A MOBILE CCTV camera could be used to monitor crime and anti-social behaviour hot spots in Henley.

The town council is considering buying the device and moving it around areas where residents have complained about groups of youths causing trouble.

A portable camera which would store up to 30 days’ worth of footage would cost about £2,500.

The images would be viewed remotely over a wireless internet connection.

The device would be housed in a vandal-resistant case and could be attached to street furniture like lampposts, which would supply the electricity.

An operator could zoom or pivot it using an app.

Possible locations for the camera include the more secluded parts of Marsh Meadow and by the River Thames off Mill Lane.

Another site is the alleyway between Harpsden Road and Noble Road, which has attracted complaints about drug dealing and abuse.

Another two places to have been troubled by antisocial behaviour are Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road, and Freemans Meadow, off Fair Mile.

However, having the camera at either of these would mean installing power points and supply cables.

This work could be carried out by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks at a cost of about £27,500.

An electricity meter and poles on which to mount the camera would cost extra.

The council is investigating whether Thames Valley Police could monitor the feed or whether its own officers would need to do so.

If the police couldn’t help, the council would have to draft a policy to comply with data protection laws.

The camera could be moved about according to residents’ concerns. Each move would cost between £150 and £300 on top of the bill of about £20 a month for the internet link.

A detailed proposal is expected to be considered by the council’s recreation and amenities committee next month.

Councillor Kellie Hinton, who chairs the committee, said: “I didn’t know that portable CCTV was even an option until a resident suggested it while I was canvassing at the elections in May.

“By coincidence, our town clerk suggested a similar thing at a recent meeting and said cameras helped in Burnham, where he was previously based.

“It would be a case of going where the trouble is. Some areas are quite exposed so they don’t attract problems but others are well out of sight.

“The initial costs might look high but we don’t want to put people off as there are some places that won’t need a power supply and we may be able to reduce the cost of installation there.

“We could also recoup some of the costs in quieter periods by loaning the camera to other towns or possibly landowners experiencing problems.

“It won’t be as straightforward if we have to monitor the footage ourselves but this can be discussed once we have all the facts. We’d like to go ahead because it looks like the way forward.

“We should appreciate that Henley is lucky to have low levels of antisocial behaviour and that not all teenagers who gather in public are automatically causing trouble.

“However, there are some problems and while they’re never going to disappear completely, we should be doing all we can.”

The town council has previously asked South Oxfordshire District Council, which operates a number of CCTV cameras in Henley, to consider adding more but was rebuffed on cost grounds.

Permanent CCTV cameras were among the solutions proposed following complaints about anti-social behaviour at the skate park in Makins recreation ground in the summer.

The idea was more or less ruled out on cost grounds and some people also argued that it would just move the problem elsewhere anyway.

According to official crime figures, there were six incidents of antisocial behaviour and two of violent crime at the recreation ground in the first eight months of this year.

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