A report by the CCTV Manager
The CCTV Manager presented the annual report advising committee that Boston Borough Council’s public realm CCTV system consisted of digital high definition CCTV cameras and CCTV control room equipment that covered Boston town centre, Kirton and other areas including Boston College, Pilgrim Hospital, Redstone Industrial Estate and Pescod Square.
The Council further monitored cameras on behalf of NKDC, SHDC and ELDC, although detailed incident data for those council areas had not been included in the report.
Performance data at appendix A noted that during the period 01 April 2020 to 31st March 2021 the service had logged 15,652 daily entries and completed 2863 incident reports. Boston Borough Council had further received 445 out of hours’ service calls with the CCTV operators having received a combined total of 1192 calls for Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District Council. The CCTV Operators had directly contributed to 122 arrests within the Boston Borough area and 287 arrests for the total coverage area. They had also produced 123 pieces of evidence for Lincolnshire Police and Court use with a total number of 296 pieces of evidence produced.
The CCTV Manager referred members to appendix A of the report and invited them to question the full statistical data therein.
Member comment and questioning followed which included:
Members questioned the staffing level of the service and need for any increase in operators, whilst referencing the volume of log entries and agreeing it was an impressive amount of work that the operators were undertaking. Furthermore, a Member questioned the volume of evidence provided, querying management of evidence cases aside from viewing the monitors.
In response, the CCVT Manager confirmed that in general there were two operatives per shift, with overlapping at some points. At certain times of the day when the town was quiet, in particular in the early morning hours, only one operator was on site. There was capacity in the service to put more operators on when large events occurred, but the maximum number of staff at any one time was three for the operating equipment available. Evidence gathering took place at the workstation used for viewing the monitors and was mostly produced in quieter times during a shift, often by the night staff who had capacity with less activity on the monitors.
Further questioning sought advice on who paid for the operators; were all the cameras in operation as there had been ongoing issues of ASB in the town and concern at single officer working through the night that a member felt could be dangerous. A Member also asked why the Police asked businesses to provide CCTV coverage when incidents arose in the town.
The CCTV Manager confirmed the Council paid for the operators as they were employees, but monies received for the service by third parties included a percentage for the operators. Referencing the cameras, he advised that although he did not have the maintenance log with him, to the best of his knowledge all cameras were working. He advised that regular maintenance was undertaken and the Assistant Director – Regulation confirmed that the revenue budget enabled funding all year round for maintenance and repair with a local provider on call who would respond swiftly to any breakdown. Referencing single working the Portfolio Holder advised that the Council had a Lone Working Policy in place. Inspector Harrod advised that when a serious incident arose it was the policy of the Police to source as much supporting evidence as possible, and that did include sourcing any additional CCTV footage that may be available within the vicinity of the incident.
Referencing the funding provided by BTAC a Member asked if the appointment for the new CCTV operative filled having seen advertisements for such operators and further asked if there was any feedback on the coverage in the park and evidence of any effect of the installation of the camera. The CCTV Manager advised that an existing part time operator had taken up the new post funded by BTAC but that no data was available in respect of the impact of the additional service in the park, as there had been little time since the implementation to collate any detailed information. However, feedback information would be produced to allow reporting to BTAC to enable it to monitor the outcomes of its’ funding, which would be supported by reporting by the Police in respect of ASB activity.
Members questioned the type and amount of cameras currently used within the town. One member questioned buying more cameras’ to address the volume of crime taking place, although one member questioned the figures raised stating that Boston was not as bad as Members felt it to be and stated he felt the service worked well and Members needed to remember they were spending ratepayers money. Ratepayers in BTAC would be subject to precept up by 5% just to fund the one operator for Central Park.
Furthermore, the Member questioned expanding the staff levels to provide a greater service for the public and businesses of the town.
The CCTV Manager advised that the current cameras in use were PTZ zoned which allowed them to cover differing areas within their location but not one specific location continually. He stated it would be possible to look at static cameras which provided a 360 view on one area all the time in areas subject to high crime rates, a further option was to use mobile cameras in similar areas. The Portfolio Holder stated that the cameras had been replaced two years previously and the Council had an open source system with many differing types of cameras being available. He further underlined the fact that Government was very clear in respect of the siting of cameras and any siting of mobile units would require permission from the owners of premises on which to site them. Furthermore, evidence of the need for any additional cameras would be required to all consideration of expanding the existing service.
Responding to the requests for increasing the staffing levels of the services, the Assistant Director – Regulation stated it would be wrong to say the service was under-staffed. The level of service aligned to the budget that provided so many operators per week/year, it was not under-resourced.
Staff turnover was the nature of the service with recruitment being an on-going process. Any increase in the staffing level would need to be evidence based and any such increase would have an impact on services elsewhere within the Council.
A Member questioned the possibility of an apprentice scheme in the service to allow the Council to recruit from within once trained. The suggestion was warmly received and supported by the Committee with agreement Cabinet be charged with looking at the staffing level and introducing an apprenticeship opening into the service.
In response to a question that sought advice on the opportunities available for sourcing grants and funding for the service the CCTV Manager confirmed that no current schemes were available but officers always looked for options. The Assistant Director – Regulation confirmed that the Council had applied for funding through Police Crime Lincolnshire but unfortunately the funding had been over-subscribed.
A Member asked what the third party receivers paid for the service and what the breakdown of the costs charged included. The Assistant Director – Regulation confirmed he would provide the information after the meeting.
Further comments and advice provided included concern by a Member in respect of a lack of signage when approaching the town advising that CCTV operated throughout the town, and confirmation that the third party receivers of the service were responsible for paying for their own cameras and their installation within their areas.
That The Environment and Performance Committee request that Cabinet consider the introduction of an apprenticeship scheme for the CCTV service to enable the Council to train future operatives.
1. To provide a breakdown of the accounts for the third party service.
2. To look at increased signage on the approach to the town and
within the town, confirming CCTV coverage was in operation.