Volunteers needed to boost CCTV

MORE volunteers are today being sought to man Felixstowe's CCTV cameras - to help keep the resort's streets safe.

MORE volunteers are today being sought to man Felixstowe's CCTV cameras - to help keep the resort's streets safe.

Police chiefs say the cameras are proving invaluable and have already helped in a number of crimes and incidents around the town.

So far eight Police Support Volunteers (PSVs) have been recruited to watch the cameras and liaise with officers when incidents are spotted, but is hoped to boost this number to 20.

“The more volunteers we have the greater number of hours we can have people watching the cameras,” said Inspector Steve Gallant, of the Felixstowe and District Safer Neighbourhood Team.

The scheme, which started last autumn thanks to an initial �36,000 Home Office grant and is also supported by councils and traders, features five cameras and footage is recorded all the time at the monitoring centre at the police station and can be looked at retrospectively.

“It is better if the cameras are being watched because we can react to what is happening and often stop incidents escalating,” said Insp Gallant

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“If there are two people arguing on the street, it is better to get there quickly and deal with it before it becomes a fight.

“The aim is to reduce crime and the fear of crime - we are not looking at where people are parking, but focussing on matters such as retail crime, purse dipping, cash machine fraud

“I was very surprised when I came to Felixstowe that there were no CCTV cameras in a town of this size, and I think some members of the criminal fraternity were aware of that and the town was a hunting ground for them.”

The quality of the pictures means they can be used as court evidence.

“CCTV is a useful tool as it allows offenders to be identified and their actions reliably replayed at a later date such as in court. Since January, CCTV has provided essential evidence in five cases and without CCTV evidence, it can be difficult to prosecute in some cases,” said Insp Gallant.

Volunteers should be willing to help their community, able to spare a few hours a week and will be given full training. Further information is available from Rachael Thacker on 01473 613500 for more information.

Is CCTV a good idea in our town centres? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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FASTFACTS: Felixstowe's crime-busting CCTV

Two men were charged with affray after being captured on camera in fighting in the town centre.

Film showed a motorcyclist seriously injured in a crash at the bottom of South Hill had not been speeding - and the car driver involved had pulled across the give way lines.

Images showed a suspect was not where they had said they were at a certain time - helping to get to the truth of the story.

A purse thief and his accomplice was caught by the cameras - the thief was also wanted by the Metropolitan police.

The CCTV system was also used for surveillance when police had intelligence that a serious crime was to take place in the town.

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