Crime-fighting voice from above to stay

TALKING CCTV cameras are set to stay in Ipswich after a trial proved a success, it emerged today.

Neil Puffett

TALKING CCTV cameras are set to stay in Ipswich after a trial proved a success, it emerged today.

The town was one of 21 areas in the UK to receive a government grant to adapt existing cameras last April and the scheme has proved such a help in deterring bad behaviour that a decision has been made to keep them indefinitely.

The system means council workers in a control centre can monitor pictures from talking cameras in key locations in the town centre and communicate directly with people in the street at the flick of a switch.

Jim Manning, head of community safety at the council, said the scheme had proved a success during the first 12 months.

He said: “They are something we have been able to use selectively to ensure that people are reminded about what is and isn't acceptable behaviour.

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“We have had one or two funny incidents of people starting to drop their trousers and being told they are on CCTV and disappearing rather quickly.

“Certainly people who are beginning to show signs of wanting to fight with someone else, if they are told they are on camera, it does have a calming effect and reminds them to think before they go a bit further.”

The council has 60 CCTV cameras in the town and four at a time can be used in conjunction with the speakers.

Mr Manning said operators regularly “issue advice” to people spotted misbehaving, usually booze-fuelled, and have the ability to call in back-up if their words are ignored.

“We have had a number of successes with the system - on one occasion someone decided not to follow advice and the police were called and a £50 fixed penalty notice was given,” he said.

“Through a partnership approach with these cameras, the police, and town pastors, we have been able to nip some of the issues we face in the bud a lot quicker than would have been the case some years ago.”

Some of the more routine incidents spotted on camera involve late-night littering and drunken scuffles although more unusual events have included members of a stag party running through the town centre wearing just socks and shoes.

Have you witnessed a talking CCTV camera being used in Ipswich? Is the system a good deterrent? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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