Friday, January 25, 2008

CCTV for Westgate

I see that the front page of the Thanet Gazette is leading with “Village buys its own CCTV Cameras”, a story involving Westgate and how the residents association and local business fund has contributed to the installation of a camera above Rogers & Hambridge estate agents.

On a personal note, I’m glad to see a camera back in place and it’s very kind of Rogers & Hambidge to allow their premises to be use to mount the camera and store the recording equipment, which is available to the police if required.

At the end of last summer, I visited local traders in Station Road and asked if they would be prepared to contribute to the cost of a new camera in a bid to deal with anti-social behaviour problems outside the stations and opposite the off-licenses. The response was favourable, subject to cost and a great deal of credit goes to PC Chris Bungard for sourcing the right camera for the job at a very attractive price.

It is unfortunate that the community has to dip into its collective pocket these days to find the funds to make our streets safer. Two of the local traders nearby, already have CCTV in place and one more, wider range camera ,is a help when it comes to collecting evidence and perhaps acting as a deterrent to the anti-social behaviour that our towns and villages suffer from on a regular basis.

Here in Britain, we have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else on the planet but “Forests of CCTV cameras in the UK's town centres have failed to have any impact on anti-social behaviour”, an ACPO official told the House of Lords Constitution Committee last week.

Graeme Gerrard, head of CCTV at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said cameras did a good job deterring crimes like theft, for example in car parks. Such criminals are presumably acting "rationally", he said, and will take cameras and other surveillance equipment into account.

"Before CCTV can effectively deter people, they need to know the cameras are there. They have got to be thinking about the consequences of their behaviour," he said.

And here lies the problem. We have less and less money for policing, with even the Police themselves threatening strike action over pay and without a doubt the great majority of those committing anti-social behaviour offenses, don’t give a jot about the consequences of their behaviour!

Gerrard insisted that the proliferation of CCTV cameras in public spaces was being driven by local communities, or rather local authorities and other public agencies.

The public was often left disappointed by CCTV's lack if impact on drunkenness and violence, he said. "... it doesn't deter most crime. I think they are perhaps misled in terms of the amount of crime that CCTV might prevent."

Gerrard’s evidence might have seemed slightly at odds with ACPO's own written submission to the committee, which said: "The availability of CCTV images greatly assists in the investigation of crime and disorder."

Well done however to all those involved in making this effort to address a problem in Westgate which is born of a greater problem in modern society. With luck the groups of youths that hang-around the station in the evening will disperse but to where I wonder?


Michael Child said...

During the last 18 months I have had my shop window broken 4 times despite being directly opposite a CCTV camera, one would have expected the camera to have recorded something, but it did not.

The shop windowpanes are 4 feet by 6 feet and illuminated all the time so I rather expected the camera to pick something up especially as I was able to provide the times that they were broken, they are thick laminated glass so the impact shakes the whole building and wakes us all up.

Further investigation lead to the discovery that there are two types of publicly funded camera in Thanet, those operated by the police and controlled from a central monitoring station and those operated by the council.

The ones operated by the council appear to be directed in a purely random fashion if you look at one you will see it spin occasionally as though someone was controlling it, apparently though they are set on a spin timer.

I will leave you to guess which organisation operates the camera opposite me.

To be a deterrent the people behaving badly in front of the cameras have to get the message that big brother is in fact watching them and not out to lunch.

Anonymous said...

My sister in laws 16 yr old son was walking along Broadstairs High Street recently and was assaulted from behind by a well know (in Broadstairs)female hooligan. The sister in laws son's reaction was to turn round and protect himself by hitting back (not realising prior to the time of turning that it was the action of a female). Immediately following the incident the son with his parents reported the incident to the Police and suggested that the incident would have been recorded on the three directional CCTV. Regretfully on this particular day the camera's were not working. The son is about to be charged with ABH. As has been pointed out. What is the point of CCTV if it is not working.


Anonymous said...

With respect Michael in order for these cameras to act as a deterrent we need to have an effective means of punishing the guilty. Unfortunately our leaders subscribe to the rubbish spouted my the likes of Roy Jenkins and don't believe in punishment, at least not real punishment. Community sentencing is a nonsense and until we start locking people up the problem will in my view carry on.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there is very little point in having film of vandals behaving badly if they are in hoods ! How can they be identified ? Even if they are identified by clothing, manner of walking etc. if they are put before a magistrate, there seems to be very little that can be done to them. If anyone actually believes that we are in control of the streets after dark then they are sadly mistaken. The kids rule the streets and the parents of the kids don't care what they are doing. A campaign of 'name and shame' would be much more effective than the present system. The parents should be held to account and named in the local press as being the ones responsible for their 'little darlings' who are terrorising decent citizens. It seems to me that CCTV cameras are an ineffectual replacement for police officers on the beat. How many times have we heard the same lines - the camera wasn't facing the site at the time of the crime, the camera wasn't working, the camera wasn't recording etc. It's a waste of valuable resources and the money would be better spent of getting patrolling police cars in the towns - or better still, patrolling beat officers who work beyond 9 to 5.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame, although also quite inspiring, that the traders had to pay for the equipment but did they know that help might have been available through either the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) or the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP)?
Both are sponsored and hosted by TDC so even if the traders were unaware they existed their councillors should definitely have been able to point them in the right direction.

Michael Child said...

Anonymous 12.45 frankly what I want to achieve is to stop the steady decline in behaviour on the streets, while I see prison as the only option for those people who are a serious danger to others, I don’t think that those people who have been sent to prison would be then less likely to behave badly.

I think we should move much more to a system of punishment by fines used in a way to finance better policing, I think the fines should relate to the cost of damage, policing and the court. Obviously those who don’t pay should be imprisoned after which they should still owe the fines plus the cost of imprisoning them.

Something like the student loans system would be appropriate, this would mean that those who spent the years between 18 and 21 behaving badly would be in as much debt as those who spent the time studying.

Of course there would be those members of society that would elect to do both (badly behaved students) they would have to pay twice.

But if you are asking me if I want to pay for the person who broke my window to be imprisoned as well as paying to have the window repaired, the answer is no.

Anonymous said...


A few years ago, to help with a mortgage application, I took some PAYE work (usually self employed).

I think knowing I was only doing it for a short while was a great help. I ran off licences.

The company had some ex Kent CID rejoicing in the title of security managers. basically they issued a doctrine of how to be duty victim.

A serving CID officer in Folkestone told me that the villains said of the off licence chain "Like the buses, single operator and no dog"

Well I took my dog with me (whether the company liked it or not). Managing a Dover shop for a while and a lad one night came through the door, from a building site, brandishing his battery drill as if it were a pistol.

The dog flew at him and he was just able to get out and hold the door shut whilst his mates laughed at him instead of the shop manager as intended.

Then three lads came in (yobs) and played up. Admittedly the crisps rack got knocked over. But that was by one of them, making his translation from the vertical to the horizontal. I threw the other two out with kicks up the ar-e. Then their semi comatose mate was also ejected.

Then it was a matter of wiping the shop CCTV.

The man who owned the business next door came in next day and said how wonderfully behaved the area had become. He asked me to make sure I brought the dog with me every day !!

One of the laughs was a man who was arrested by Police for allaged assault on some Roma. What had happened was that they blocked the pavement and a little old lady had to bump her husband in a wheelchair into the road to walk round them. The man had asked the Roma to move. They had given him abuse and he had taken matters into his own hands. Smack smack smack.

Kent Police rejoiced at having the incident on CCTV. Then they gave the magic words "Racially motivated".

"You going to look c-nts" he told them, "I beat up some Roma Gypsies but I am a Gypsy !" (the old bareknuckle kind of Gypsy).

The CCTV apparently shew the incident.

Without the nugget of "Racial motivated" Kent Police decided not to proceed with the matter.

Law Enforcement ? Best thing would be for Police to go on strike (Arthur Scargill and the NUM can police their picket lines) and then we could do the job DIY. It is more effective.

Anonymous said...

Thats the problem you cant fight back because if you win the police take the easy option and prosecute you !! And the little darlings bless them know that.

anon again! said...

anon again!
How's about a quick CULL action to get rid of the worst offenders....
I'm quite sure the rest of the 'idiots' would soon give up their anti-social attitude and fall in to line!
Jim.... Fix it for us please!

michael said...

Chaps please align your objectives we don’t want to kill the youth of today we just want them to behave in a way that they can become useful members of society. This is really quite important

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ed, the Canterbury City shop watch cameras are excellent and are extremey effective dealing with all sorts of problems.
Obviously some of the contributors have no experience working with the Police,PCSO's,Cameras and control.Otherwise they wouldn't make such ill informed comments.
Beleive me, the CCTV set up with the police and PCSO's in Canterbury are red hot.So far my tally in assisting CCTV to pick out offenders by directing CCTV on them has resulted in 2 arrests this year so far. Without CCTV they would have got away for sure.

anon again! said...

anon again!
Point> if the shop keepers have an old computer, they can attach a newish webcam that works with movement sensor. The videos are clearer and the set up is cheap & easy to organise. (CCTV being somewhat costly to install).
We have set up this type of kit at home with old components. Extremely effective.

Mrs Tara Plumbing said...

As a grumpy, 'old' woman who is outraged by people dropping litter I have some sympathy with where the anon comments are coming from.

I total disagree with almost every thing anon says, however.

Firstly - you must have forgotten being young yourself. Most of us have been anti-social some of the time when we were young - drunk, inconsiderate, etc...
You may think there is a difference between 'us' and them - them being the thugs.
I think any one of us can find ourselves caught up in some incident which makes us look guilty or even actually be guilty of something out of character.
So (as it says in the bible - and I'm not a Christian) don't be so quick to judge others (take that plank out of your eye).

Anon suggests a mass cull of the antisocial undesirables. Strangely enough that has taken place countless times in history - on the whole it has been not seen as a good thing, eg. Nazi Germany.

My own views on the wider issues around antisocial behaviour are quite different. Prison is not a solution. Solutions are concerned with prevention, i.e. tackling the causes - parenting, schooling, literacy, self-esteem, drugs.

A disproportionate number of people in prison are dyslexic and have very poor education.

That's the big picture - not the small issue of CCTV cameras in Thanet. In my tiny world I find myself wanting to do a citizen's arrest most days of the week - people swearing, hitting each other, hitting children and dropping litter.... I could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

CCTV is fine if you have the time to watch it! Most shop keepers cannot employ someone to watch it around the clock, and are not likely to go home and watch 12 hours of video on the off chance of catching a shoplifter!

Even if a shoplifter is seen, or a criminal activity spotted on a central system, it is only of benefit if the perp is punished!

If let off with a pat on the head, then the whole system is a waste of time! There is no point in trying to catch the villains unless you are going to punish them and thus, and heres the punch line, deter others!!

A stiff jail sentance will reduce jail numbers if it is seen as a deterent!

Bang a knife weilding thug up for twenty years for GBH ( as it would have been in the old days for a section 18 ) and watch the knife carrying stop!

Anonymous said...

this was paid for by the westgate lighting and inprove group the same group that paid for the xmas lights no money came from the w w r a .so why are they jumping on the band wagon yes some traders help pay but not all .it was even fitted up by the local police officer in his own time the one above the eine shop is nothing to do with w l i g

Anonymous said...

Because Tom King has to be SEEN to be doing something. He claimed credit for the crossing at Westgate too. We're waiting to see if he's going to take credit for the cure for the common cold when they find it!