Cameras help in war against vandalism

A SENIOR police officer has praised the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in Stowmarket which have monitored more than 200 incidents in a year - the vast majority relating to violence and vandalism.

A SENIOR police officer has praised the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in Stowmarket which have monitored more than 200 incidents in a year - the vast majority relating to violence and vandalism.

In a report just seen by town councillors, the cameras are reported to have captured 206 criminal incidents, from anti-social behaviour to dangerous driving.

The statistics released at a recent town council meeting - which cover the period March 2003 to February 2004 - include 89 violent incidents, 33 vandalism attacks, 16 thefts or robberies, ten incidents of dangerous driving, ten anti-social behaviour incidents and seven burglaries.

The 11 town centre cameras were also used in cases involving missing people and road accidents.


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From the 206 criminal incidents, there were only 26 recorded arrests, although councillors were told that the outcome of many incidents passed to the police are unknown.

The report comes from the local councils and police involved with the cameras and Inspector Julian Blazeby, sector commander, said: "The closed circuit television system is of high quality and makes a valuable contribution in helping to police the streets of Stowmarket town centre, resulting in a safer place for those who live in, work or visit the area.

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"The cameras have a deterrent effect, but should not be seen as a replacement for the police officer on patrol, but as a very useful tool that can be used effectively to direct and deploy police resources where they are most needed.

"The cameras are very useful in monitoring the activities of groups of people leaving the clubs and public house late at night and in the early hours assisting police resources at these busy times.

"Offenders have been arrested as a direct result of camera observation, but some crimes such as a fight between two people leaving a public house that would not normally come to police attention are observed and as a consequence this can result in an increase in the number of crimes recorded.''

Malcolm Baker, town council clerk, said: "Violence has gone up, but then it has in most places.

"This is the second year we have had a report on the cameras performance, but the first year they had only been running a short period, and you can't compare figures. It's not an easy job to link a conviction to cctv, it might come from another matter.''

During the year just reported, the cameras in Stowmarket also suffered from a number of faults, including problems with a lens, cabling and control boards.

Stowmarket Town Council assumed the day to day management of the town centre cctv system on June 10 2002, after the cameras become operational.

The cameras are monitored 24 hours a day, every day, by Ipswich Borough Council.

The reverse data link provided to Stowmarket Police Station allows the police to monitor the cameras and review past incidents without having to visit the Ipswich based control room.

Do you think CCTV cameras work? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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