More CCTV for borough as Wigan Council plans security spending increase

Wigan Council plans to spend more cash on CCTV
Wigan Council plans to spend more cash on CCTV

Wigan Council will boost spending on CCTV cameras by tens of thousands of pounds more this year, figures reveal.

The Local Government Association says surveillance cameras play “a vital role” in keeping communities safe.

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In the 2019-20 financial year, Wigan Council will invest £189,000 in CCTV, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show. This is a ‘net figure, which is the total amount spent, minus any income made.

This year, the cost of surveillance is set to be 20% higher than in 2017-18, when the council reported a net spend of £158,000.

That year, the council spent £1.3 million on installing and maintaining surveillance systems, and brought in £1.1 million in income.

Local authorities can make money from CCTV by charging other organisations, such as hospitals or private companies, to use the existing network of cameras and operation rooms.

The LGA said councils prioritise investment in CCTV where possible, and argued that a good network of cameras can have wide-reaching benefits.

Terry Bolton, Wigan Council’s CCTV and risk manager, said: “The £1.2m budget is not simply for the operation of CCTV in the town centre.

“The figures quoted present a vastly distorted picture and fail to account for all other spending that includes staffing, access control and repairs.

“Despite this, we do see CCTV as an invaluable tool in keeping our residents safe and feeling protected.

“It helps deter those who are out to commit crimes with our trained officers monitoring all CCTV to provide reassurance for residents and businesses.”

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities board, said: “Public surveillance cameras have helped bring criminals to justice, increased conviction rates after crimes are detected, and are an important tool in tracking terrorist suspects.

“CCTV protects the public by dissuading crime and anti-social behaviour, assisting police officers on the ground and supporting prosecutions.”

Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter, who works with the Home Office to regulate the use of CCTV cameras, said that there is not much to suggest that CCTV is an effective deterrent for criminals.

He said: “However, the evidence that it supports investigations is overwhelming. It is used by police in 99% of homicide investigations and all counter-terrorism operations.

The societal value of CCTV cameras is difficult to measure, said Mr Porter, but they are most useful in the courtroom, where an early resolution to a major crime could save the taxpayer millions.

He added: “In 2014, local authorities were questioning the use and value of analogue CCTV. Now, with improved technology and connectivity, they have a much more enhanced capability.”

Across England, a net £54.3 million has been allocated to CCTV systems by local authorities for the 2019-20 financial year, up 5% on 2017-18.

That year, councils reported a total income of more than £26 million from surveillance cameras.