The CCTV camera system watching over Sleaford has undergone a complete, £49,000 upgrade, but for eight months there has been no ‘live’ feed watching over us.
The old link with the monitoring station in Grantham was severed in August for the upgrade to take place, but due to ‘unforeseen’ technical difficulties, The Standard can reveal that the new live feed could only be installed this month.
Instead, the digital cameras were temporarily fitted with SD cards to record events, similar to security cameras in a shop, with no-one monitoring to spot incidents as they happened and alert police. Hours of footage would have to be reviewed for evidence.
North Kesteven District Council corporate director Phil Roberts said they always envisaged the 20-year-old system would be switched off for a period, in order to switch the monitoring function to a new partnership with Boston Borough Council. They had to give notice to leave the previous control room at Grantham, but the transfer could not be carried out as quickly as planned.
Mr Roberts said: “It is nobody’s fault. The biggest issue was an underground duct collapse which no-one could foresee and needed a lot more work to be done by telecommunications partners. You have to go through various highways permissions to access the right bits of highway and that was more substantial than anyone could have foreseen.”
The council insists the temporary recorded footage was never needed. Mr Roberts said: “The contractors have come together to push this through. It is not for lack of effort that we have been in this situation and have now reached a positive outcome.”
NKDC and Sleaford Town Council joint-fund the seven-camera system in the town, designed to help with missing people, criminal investigations and community safety.
NKDC Community Safety Manager Heidi Ryder said the original equipment was becoming old and towards the end of its life and costly to run. With improvements in digital imagery and communications the council was able to upgrade the system to the latest technology while achieving savings of £100,000 on monitoring and maintenance costs over the five-year contract.
Mrs Ryder said: “We are really pleased with the improved quality of the camera facilities in this new equipment, which provides enhanced viewing and wonderfully clear images.”
The improved cameras can zoom and ‘see’ further than previously without losing image quality, allowing much better facial detail recognition, both day and night.
She said: “CCTV is an important tool in reducing crime and disorder and will help North Kesteven to maintain its status as one of the lowest crime areas in the country.”
Mr Roberts added: “There is flexibility to add more cameras, which was a limitation of the old system. Should things change within the town, the system can be revised.”
Boston Borough Council’s monitoring team already watches over its own cameras and those in East Lindsey and is also due to take on South Holland’s cameras. The monitoring team are in live contact with police and links with the Shop Watch system are being set up.
Mr Roberts said: “As a district council we are investing in the most recent and up-to-date technology which we hope will serve our community positively with significant savings.”
Coun Garry Titmus, Mayor of Sleaford, said: “We will all appreciate the enhanced sense of security that this new system will give the town and are delighted that this can be achieved with the ‘light touch’ that the latest technology delivers.”
Coun Stephen Woodliffe, Boston Borough Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The CCTV staff at Boston have a proven track record of managing these systems. They are trained professionals, well versed in controlling and monitoring these systems, and dealing with the ever and rapid pace of technological change.
“People are pleased for the protection and confidence it brings them. It is a cliché, but it’s true – if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear from CCTV and possibly everything to gain.”