Squeeze threatens cameras scheme

CRIME- fighting camera coverage could be scaled back because of cash problems.

The closed circuit TV system in Richmond consists of 11 cameras in the town centre providing round-the-clock monitoring 365 days per year.

The costs, met through a shared arrangement between the district council and Richmond Town Council, are 24,500 a year. However, council chiefs want to cut that to 10,240 and they are investigating a range of options for CCTV monitoring within the budget.

The comparative crime figures for Richmondshire are low in a national and regional context, according to a council study.

The total crime figure for 2009-10 was 1,860, which placed Richmondshire as the second lowest out of 21 authorities in Yorkshire and 17th lowest nationally out of 366 authorities.

But officials say this needs to be counter-balanced against the reassurance and preventative value of CCTV and the links to security at the garrison by providing extra vigilance in Richmond town.

The operation of the system in Richmond town also supports the work of the police.

In the six-month period from April to October 2010, there were 59 incidents reported to police or the Royal Military Police, 119 requests were submitted for tape reviews by the police and 62 evidential tapes were produced and 21 still photographs.

Seeking more contributions from other partners, such as North Yorkshire Police, the MoD and Richmond Town Council could be a way forward. "But this is thought to be unlikely given the financial position of partners and the county-wide precedent it could create for the police," said assistant director Mick Jewitt.

Another option is a reduction in the level of service – both monitoring hours or the number of cameras. The final option would be to withdraw the camera coverage from Richmond Town from April 1.