Resort may outsource CCTV services amid cash squeeze

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A CASH-STARVED council could be forced to outsource its network of surveillance cameras to give it the chance to take on private work and bring in extra cash.

Senior councillors in Scarborough will be told that closed 
circuit television cameras in the district has been effective in tackling crime, but they are being warned a shake-up might be needed in future because of budget cutbacks.

They will hear about a number of options for the future including outsourcing the work by setting up a private company to run the service – a move which would allow the authority to take on other work in the private sector to generate more cash.

Other choices could include cutting the numbers of staff manning the service during quiet times and seeing if cash can be found from elsewhere to support the CCTV network – although a report notes that this may not be possible as other departments also face similar budget pressures.

The vice-chairman of the safer and stronger communities scrutiny committee, Coun John Blackburn, said: “(The service) is something that I would want to see carried on but I have to appreciate that there have to be cutbacks with the way things are going.

“So it’s a case of looking at yes how it can be kept and whether that has to be from some outside funding and whether there’s anything available, but this has to be looked at carefully.”

The report warns that services are also coming under increasing pressure in other parts of North Yorkshire. Efforts have been made to see if councils could work together to share services, but no agreement has been reached.

“One of the difficulties highlighted through that work is that Scarborough has little commonality with the rest of North Yorkshire in relation to CCTV services,” the report says.

“Within the county, whilst most local authorities have historically had some form of CCTV service albeit on a very small scale, these services are generally a lesser priority.

“It is understood that CCTV services in Craven and Selby are no longer being provided and that the service in Ryedale has all but been wound down. Within the North Yorkshire context, Scarborough and Harrogate councils are the main providers of CCTV services. Because of this there was little appetite for more radical joint working opportunities being taken up.”

The safer and stronger communities scrutiny committee will discuss an annual report looking at where the CCTV service stands when they meet on Wednesday. After learning details of its provisional budget settlement from the Government in December, the council is expecting to have to make cuts of £7.5m over the next three years – £2.5m of which will come in the next financial year.

The council’s chief executive, Jim Dillon, warned last month that the delivery of all the authority’s services would be a “tough ask” amid the swingeing cutbacks, and admitted “some very difficult decisions” would have to be made.

The report to be considered by members next week warns more cuts could be needed in future.

It added: “Throughout 2012 officers have been investigating a range of opportunities to make efficiency savings within the centre including an exploration of the opportunity of ‘single manning’ at the quiet periods in relation to the delivery of all services.

“Whilst given the scale of the council’s future savings requirements single manning may be an option forced on the council in future years; however this approach has, to date, not been taken forward. Efficiencies are, however, planned via the changing of certain roles within the centre and through proposed changes to shift rotas.

“These changes are being taken forward to ensure flexible cover arrangements are in place and to reduce the reliance on the need to make overtime payments.”

Up to the end of December last year, the CCTV network helped to make a total of 637 arrests.