Talking CCTV launched in Ipswich

TALKING CCTV cameras are today being used for the first time in Ipswich to tackle anti social behaviour.Four cameras monitoring key points in the town centre have been adapted so that control room staff can relay messages to people on the street in the flick of a switch.

TALKING CCTV cameras are today being used for the first time in Ipswich to tackle anti social behaviour.

Four cameras monitoring key points in the town centre have been adapted so that control room staff can relay messages to people on the street in the flick of a switch.

The Home Office-funded system, which is being rolled out in 21 areas across the county, was due to be switched on in Lloyds Avenue, Tower Street, Dog's Head Street and Old Foundry Road this morning.

The cameras are part of a network of 200 which are monitored by Ipswich Borough Council's CCTV control room. Images from all cameras are recorded 24 hours a day to act as a deterrent against crime and a source of evidence for police and the council.

The talking cameras will be monitored at points throughout the day and if the operators see anything untoward on the street they will be able to speak directly to the people spotted on camera and issue “advice and instructions”, according to the council.

The camera in Lloyds Avenue is located under the Lloyds Avenue Arch, the Tower Street camera is located near Yates wine bar while the Dog's Head Street camera is near the Pals bar.

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Andy Solomon, the borough council's anti social behaviour network manager, said the sites had been chosen because they were in busy parts of the town which are used day and night.

He said the talking cameras would act as “a reassurance to the public” and added: “It will remind people there are cameras around the town. It can be used as a warning or an advisory resource. If there is somebody who is depositing litter or threatening someone else it might make them think 'I'm on camera, I won't do it'.”

The talking cameras scheme is being funded by £500,000 in grants from the Home Office. An existing scheme in Middlesbrough has been used to stop vandals and tell litterbugs to pick up their rubbish.

Announcing the extension of the scheme in April, Home Secretary John Reid said: “This is a hugely popular scheme in Middlesbrough and the vast majority of the people are right behind it.

“It helps counter things like litter through to drunk or disorderly behaviour and gangs congregating.”

Mr Solomon today warned people not to “test” the cameras to provoke a response through the speakers as he said sometimes the police would be called in the first instance.

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

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